BLOOMINGTON — The Mill, Bloomington’s nonprofit center for coworking and entrepreneurship, today announced the dates for Innovation Week (iWeek) 2023, a slate of free events on technology and innovation that runs from October 3 through October 6.
“It’s been five years since The Mill first opened our doors,” said Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill. “We’ve got a great birthday celebration planned, along with a ceremonial groundbreaking of the tech center, and many more events from partners and friends. For anyone interested in innovation, technology, or entrepreneurship, iWeek is a great way to learn what’s happening locally, connect with the community, and get inspired.”
The Mill will host events all week in partnership with gBETA, the STARTedUP Foundation, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), the Indiana University Innovation & Commercialization Office (ICO), the Uplands LEAN Network, and the City of Bloomington.
The week kicks off on the morning of Tuesday, October 3, with the gBETA BragBox Breakfast, a breakfast buffet for startup founders, gBETA program alumni, and ecosystem friends. The Mill will also announce the winners of the Fuse Business Innovation awards, including Entrepreneur of the Year and Company of the Year.
At 5 p.m. on Tuesday, The Mill will relaunch Collide.
“Pre-pandemic, Collide was one of our most popular monthly events, featuring a guest business speaker and lunch,” said Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming at The Mill. “We think Collide 2.0 is going to be even better.”
The evening includes a startup pitch, networking opportunities, and a panel on innovation featuring John Fernandez, former Bloomington mayor and former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development; Kerry Thomson, mayoral candidate and current Executive Director of the IU Center for Rural Engagement; Julie Heath, the inaugural executive director for the new IU Innovates Hub; and Folia CEO Ravi Bhatt. Chef’s Table Catering is sponsoring the event with heavy appetizers. Upland Brewing and sponsor Oliver Winery are providing beverages, Lehman added.
Wednesday, October 4, opens with an innovation workshop for high school students, led by the STARTedUP Foundation. Dozens of students have signed up to participate, East said, and the public is invited to support the students from the audience, either by offering feedback on their solutions or simply by cheering them on. The public portion of the event starts around 11 a.m., and lunch will be served (rsvp here).
In the afternoon, The Mill will host the finals of the Crossroads Pitch Competition on two stages. Eight startup founders will “pitch” their companies, Shark-Tank-style, to two panels of judges, in competition for $30,000 in investments from Flywheel Fund. The founders come from all across Indiana.
“Our spotlight sponsor, the IEDC, provides so much support for Hoosier innovators,” East said. “We’re really excited they’ve agreed to serve on our judging panel alongside some other very distinguished guests.”
After the competition, attendees can stay for a short Angel Investing 101 panel to learn about the process of becoming an angel investor. The day closes with the Community Innovation Awards, where The Mill and event sponsor TechPoint will announce the winners of Bloomington’s Best Places to Work and the Fast 15 MVP Employees. The gala is closed to nominees and their guests.
Thursday, October 5, starts with the IU Idea to Startup Pitch Competition from IU Research and the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office. IU faculty, students, and staff will pitch business ideas in a competition for $30,000 in prizes.
Later that day, the Uplands LEAN Network will hold a workshop on Innovation + Process Improvement for Remote Work, open to network members, LEAN practitioners, and anyone curious about LEAN methods and process improvement. In a closed session, 10 startup founders will give a speed version of their pitch to win $500 in cash from sponsor German American, who also is providing financial counseling to all participants.
At 4 p.m., the anniversary festivities for The Mill begin.
“First we’ll gather at the site of the future Tech Center,” Lehman said, “for a ceremonial groundbreaking. John Fernandez and others will share our progress and unveil the next steps.” A
“Afterward, guests will cross the street to celebrate The Mill’s fifth birthday with food, drink, and music. Jane Martin and Lynn Coyne, who were instrumental in founding The Mill, will make some remarks, along with others who have participated in The Mill’s programming. Ivy Tech, a key partner of The Mill in programs like Code/IT Academy, is sponsoring the celebration. RSVPs are appreciated,” Lehman added.
Innovation Week closes with the City of Bloomington’s Innovation Celebration on Friday, October 6. The public is invited to drop in, learn more about the City’s innovation initiatives from the past year, and enjoy Hartzell’s ice cream.
“iWeek is possible with the support of many local businesses and organizations,” East noted. “We’re so grateful to our partners for cohosting events with us, and to local entrepreneurs at Chef’s Table Catering, Rainbow Bakery, Gables Bagels, Parlor Doughnuts, Oliver Winery, Upland Brewing, and Raising Cane’s for sponsoring events with food and beverage during Innovation Week. We hope others will join us in supporting them, in turn, with our business throughout the year, and reaping the delicious rewards of our thriving community.”
View the full slate of iWeek events and RSVP on Eventbrite.
About The Mill
The Mill is the heart of southern Indiana’s startup ecosystem. A 501(c)3 nonprofit, its mission is to spark Bloomington’s innovation economy by launching and accelerating startups, and its vision is to become Indiana’s center of gravity for entrepreneurship. For more information, visit https://www.dimensionmill.org/