Indiana commits increased funding, and resources to catalyze entrepreneurship, innovation 

INDIANAPOLIS – Governor Eric J. Holcomb and Indiana Secretary of Commerce David Rosenberg announced key updates to the state’s focus on innovation and entrepreneurship today, outlining venture development funding increases and programmatic changes designed to cultivate startup activity and fuel Indiana’s $1 billion venture market.  

David Rosenberg

“Indiana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is experiencing unprecedented momentum, earning recognition as the best state in the U.S. to start a business – and we’re not slowing down yet,” said Sec. Rosenberg. “Alongside our ecosystem partners like Elevate Ventures and the Applied Research Institute, we’re continuing to expand and modernize our suite of funding and support resources for Hoosier innovators, entrepreneurs, and small businesses, helping turn dreams into reality.” 

These updates, which are highlighted below, will increase funding and support for Indiana’s entrepreneurs, innovators, and startups – particularly for the state’s earliest-stage firms – and make investment capital more accessible. The IEDC estimates that these efforts and modernizations will double the number of state-supported venture development investments each year, further accelerating Indiana’s growing venture development activity.  

  • Indiana increases annual funding for venture development by 40%  
    The IEDC renewed its agreement with its venture development partner, Elevate Ventures, increasing annual funding to the organization by 40% as the state aims to build on recent momentum and record-breaking years for both Indiana’s venture activity and Elevate Ventures’ investments. Indiana surpassed the $1 billion mark for venture activity in 2021 and 2022, ranking No. 4 in the U.S. and No. 15 in the world for venture growth between 2017-2023 according to Pitchbook. Additionally, Elevate Ventures marked a record year in 2022, funding $22.8 million to Indiana startups (+34.75% from 2021). 

    To better leverage this increased funding, Elevate Ventures will narrow its focus to making, maintaining, and managing investments, realigning certain grant programs (including the state’s Innovation Voucher Program and SBIR/STTR matching grants) to the Applied Research Institute (ARI) and enabling the organization to more strategically catalyze venture investment opportunities for startups and scaleups.  
  • Indiana to launch new $3 million pre-seed fund, unlocking new opportunities for early-stage firms 
    As part of Elevate Venture’s focus on increasing venture development activity, the organization is launching a new, $3 million pre-seed fund designed to fuel Indiana’s earliest-stage companies. This fund, which will replace current activities through the Community Ideation Fund and Nexus Pitch Competitions, effectively doubles the annual investment allocation for early-stage companies and reduces the number of timing constraints of previous programs, allowing companies to access critical funding when it is needed most. 

    Investments from the new pre-seed fund will be made in amounts of $20,000 to $100,000 and, unlike the rest of Indiana’s venture funds, will not require matching investment dollars, making this funding more accessible to innovators and early-stage firms. 
  • New Indiana matching grants available for innovation and technology transfer activity 
    The state will expand its support for innovative entrepreneurs and small businesses through its Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) matching grant program, making phase two matching grants – in addition to phase one matching grants already offered – available to ideation-stage Indiana companies. These matching grants, which will now be managed by ARI, are available to recipients of research and technology development grants through 11 federal agencies. ARI will also take over management of the Small Business Innovation Voucher Program – a program designed to help leverage Indiana’s research and higher education institutions, as well as approved non-profit research organizations to provide small businesses access to industry experts and research leaders. 
  • Indiana modernizes regional model for fostering entrepreneurial and startup activity, commits another $2 million to grow localized support for small businesses 
    The IEDC and Elevate Ventures are working together to serve Indiana’s regions more efficiently and cultivate entrepreneurial and startup activity across all Hoosier communities. Elevate Ventures will modernize its support for regional ecosystems, eliminating the requirement for local communities to complete fundraising to access investment opportunities and expand its footprint to cover the entire state. This change will carry on the regional collaboration efforts made in recent years while making investment capital, particularly pre-seed funding, and local points of contact more readily and more quickly available throughout the entire state.  

    In addition to Elevate Ventures’ localized experts to support each region, the IEDC allocated $2 million to growing its network of 10 Indiana Small Business Development Center regional offices earlier this year – adding more business advisors and ecosystem navigators to help entrepreneurs, innovators, and startups leverage ConnectIND and get connected with the right resources at the right time.  

These initiatives are just one part of Indiana’s recent increased focus on investing in the growth and success of the state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Most notably, the IEDC launched ConnectIND, a digital portal available in 11 languages, in July to increase support for entrepreneurs and founders. This first-of-its-kind statewide listing of resources, programs, and services for entrepreneurs is designed to connect current and aspiring entrepreneurs to the right resources at the right time, providing visitors with curated connections to Indiana’s robust network of support organizations, mentors, accelerators, capital opportunities and more. Since launching in July, ConnectIND has registered 1000 users and garnered 7,000 unique site visitors, over 30,000 site views, and over 11,000 sessions. 

Indiana was recently ranked as the No. 1 State to Start a Business by Forbes and as the No. 11 Emerging Ecosystem in the U.S. by Startup Genome while six of the state’s cities were named among the 2022 Best Startup Cities in the Midwest with Indianapolis ranking No. 3. In September, the Global Entrepreneurship Network announced Indiana as the host for its Global Entrepreneurship Congress in 2025, recognizing the state’s growing leadership in cultivating entrepreneurship.