NIIC Catalyze Pilot Program Receives $90K Funding Round

NIIC Catalyze Pilot Program Receives $90K Funding Round

Two supporters of entrepreneurial growth in Northeast Indiana are backing a Northeast Indiana Innovation Collective (NIIC) initiative with almost $90,000 in financial support. The Don Wood Foundation and Summit City Entrepreneur and Enterprise District (SEED) are funding NIIC’s Catalyze Northeast Indiana, a pilot program that will run through April 2023.

“We’re thinking big for Northeast Indiana and are humbled and inspired by the support of the Don Wood Foundation and SEED. Through our Innovation Collective, together we are bringing Entrepreneurship to ALL communities,” said Mike Fritsch, President and CEO.

“Northeast Indiana is a Community of Communities,™ defined by geography, race, language, gender, income level, veteran status, interest or anything else. The key to this program: it is community led,” said Fritsch. The program works with designated communities to champion entrepreneurship from within their communities. How does this look for business builders? It is new access to innovation and entrepreneurial resources in the form of trainings and tools for success. “It is deepened entrepreneurial support from within their own community,” said Fritsch.

Laura Macknick, President and CEO, Don Wood Foundation, said, “We were happy to support the Northeast Indiana Innovation Collective in their efforts to bring valuable training by NEXT Studios to our regional counties and Southeast Fort Wayne. Providing aspiring entrepreneurs with the skills they need to start and grow their businesses is crucial to a thriving regional economy, as a significant portion of new net job growth comes from these small businesses.”

Andrea Robinson, PhD, City of Fort Wayne, said, “This is important work with our community, expanding access to entrepreneurs. We are honored to be the second funder of this program and are optimistic about its future impact.”

Through April 2023, NIIC is piloting this new program in four designated regions. Three imperative components of the program include:

  • Community Based and Led—A Champion within each region will lead the Catalyze Program in collaboration with the NIIC Collective.
  • Startups Access—Through a partnership with NEXT Studios, startups and small businesses will have access to events, workshops, and tactics for innovative entrepreneurship.
  • Customized to Community—NIIC will host listening sessions in each region to identify its specific innovation and entrepreneurial needs. NIIC will use those learnings to develop tailored tools and support for each community as part of NIIC’s Entrepreneurship for ALL Initiative.

Four Catalyze Northeast Indiana Champions will announce piloting the program in their communities in the coming weeks.

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