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August 20, 2019 10:37am

First Person: GLI Innovation Tour Day 2 Recap

This is the second and final part of a series from Alisia McClain, Founder/CEO of TECH-nique, Inc., who gives a first-person account of GLI’s Innovation Tour to Indianapolis to study the city’s technology sector.


Day 2 of Innovation Tour, presented by The Software Guild, began with a lovely breakfast at the Alexander, followed by a bus trip to Salesforce, where we would spend the majority of our morning.

The initial presentation addressing the impact of a tech ecosystem, was given by Mike Langellier, president and CEO, TechPoint. TechPoint is one of the growth accelerators for Indiana’s tech ecosystem, through partnerships with smaller companies in scale-up stage and big companies undergoing digital transformation, connecting them with talent, venture capital, customers promotion, and the community. Takeaways included three strategies for a successful tech ecosystem: leveraging partnerships with the media to tell a tech story, narrowing their set of events by prizing quality over quantity, and sharing stories with friends and family.

Next we heard from a panel moderated by Amy Waggener, director of state and local government affairs for SalesForce, featuring Blair Milo, secretary for career connections and for the state of Indiana, Angela Carr Klitzsch, president and CEO of EmployIndy, and Jason Kloth, president and CEO of Ascend Indiana. Their topic was Tech Talent: Recruit, Retain, Retrain. Some of their strategies involved attracting veterans, reimbursement for employers who are training individuals, partnering with K-12 and universities, providing inclusive hiring toolkits for employers to address diversity and inclusion, and the importance of a good story to highlight what is going on.

After a tasty lunch of build your own gyros, we heard about Innovation Districts and building a sense of place. John Hirschman of Browning Investments moderated the panel, featuring Dr. Jay McGill, COO of Indiana Biosciences Research Institute, Vop Osili, president of Indianapolis City-County Council, and Bob Coy, president and CEO of 16 Tech. Jay started us off by defining an innovation district as a space where people come together, public and private, because they want to collaborate on certain projects, build the ecosystem, retain talent, redevelopment of the urban core. Bob Coy talked about the importance of including the surrounding communities and working with the neighborhoods as part of their mission.

Vop Osili talked about a design of intentional collision as the driving factor behind innovation districts. He also spoke passionately about how to embrace the goal of tech and still ensure that the residents feel that it is their own, mitigating issues of We vs Them, and not feeling like an island in a sea of other. To guide their efforts, they kept this in mind: Whatever we do, there will be engagement through the offering of opportunities for local folks to participate. To insure that this happened, 16tech hired a full time director of community initiatives.

Next we traveled to High Alpha to hear from venture capitalists on creative funding strategies. Mike Fizgerald, co-founder and partner of High Alpha, moderated a panel featuring Scott Kraege, co-founder of MOBI, Robin Flemming, CEO & co-founder of Anvl, Yaw Aning, cofounder and CEO of Malomo. They spoke about the accelerator provided by High Alpha, including how important it is for VCs to be supportive of the companies that they are funding. This creates a supportive ecosystem where partnerships can flourish. Mike Fitzgerald talked about his accelerator and the Sprint Week, a week where they try to say yes to every idea. He also talked about connecting business executives who want to make a difference with startups who need the expertise of industry professionals.

We got on the bus to head home, but not before driving past the building site of 16tech to see the work that is in progress. On our way home, we had a last chance to connect with our fellow travelers and to debrief about what we had learned.

Learning about tech ecosystems, placemaking, and how Indianapolis is moving their city into an innovative district was so rewarding. In addition, meeting like-minded individuals who are committed to taking Louisville to the next level was invigorating and inspiring. I am so excited to see where Louisville can go!


ABOUT INNOVATION TOUR

Indianapolis has made significant investments in their tech and innovation culture resulting in the recruitment of new business, new talent, and new startups. Mayor Fischer and key tech leaders from Louisville are in Indy to learn more about the strategies and investments Indianapolis is making to create this transformation change. Learn more. 

 

ABOUT ALISIA

Alisia McClain is founder of TECH-nique, a non-profit that uses research-based practices to disrupt the digital divide by providing computer science skills to underrepresented groups in an innovative and impactful way. Learn more at www.tech-nique.org.