Inspiration from innovation

Back into Indiana today from Michigan and onto one inspirational place to another.  Here’s a view across Lake Michigan…it’s nearly 100 times bigger than Great Lake Taupo…


Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (NIIC)

Karl and the team raised the bar again as hosts, giving me the full tour and lifting the hood on what they do.  Karl is the past President of the National Business Incubation Association, so I had assumed it would be a day of incubation.

I was completely wrong.  Karl and the team offer a full range of services to assist entrepreneurs, which have been refined over 15 years.  As Karl puts it, entrepreneurship is a fourth leg in addition to the traditional economic development tools of retention, attraction and workforce development.  NIIC has the results to back it up, having helped over 100 companies grow at an average rate of 79% compounded annually, with 91% of businesses surviving after 5 years and 98% retention within Indiana.


Karl has authored a number of publications including the Four Levers of Success, which he defines as:

  1. Capital Access and Availability
  2. Knowledge Catalysts
  3. Human and Physical Infrastructure
  4. Entrepreneurial Climate and Values

Makes you think about where you live and if those exist.

Karl had some very insightful and pragmatic views:

  • Even though they have very clearly defined stages, the team “meets entrepreneurs at the stage you find them” and then assist from there
  • The best entrepreneurs are built out of opportunity not necessity, often we hear the opposite?
  • Workforce development (that phrase keeps popping up) is focused on training people to fit the demand for jobs.  But given the changing nature of work…what will that be in future and what about peoples passion?


Innovation Connector

Then it was a flying visit to see Ted at Muncie, a smaller rural town.  The Innovation Connector offers similar services to NIIC.

Ted and the team have and strong focus on relationships, collaborating closely with Ball State University (yet again education is a key component).  Ted’s view on smaller communities where knowing their value proposition and not standing still…Muncie lost a huge number of manufacturing jobs but are right in the middle of reinventing.

The closest thing I can think of to the these two organisations in New Zealand is The Icehouse…imagine a few more services like that supporting New Zealand…


One thought on “Inspiration from innovation”

  1. Awesome commentry Will! In NZ there are some other up and coming org’s working on start up stuff – Akina Foundation (formerly Hikurangi Foundation) is one cool group working w social enterprise start ups in NZ.
    Keep the learnings coming!


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