NIIC enrollment for students to launch businesses


NIIC Northeast Indiana Innovation Center logo


News release from the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center:

Northeast Indiana Innovation Center Opens Enrollment for Students to Launch Businesses

(May 26, 2016) – Enrollment is open for the next cohort of Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (The NIIC) Student Venture Lab Program. The NIIC, an entrepreneurial community based in Fort Wayne, Ind., offers an unique opportunity for high school and college students in Northeast Indiana to launch their businesses through the Student Venture Lab Program. Students benefit from a supportive environment focused on success while pursuing dreams of starting a business. The goal is to onboard student entrepreneurs into the entrepreneurial mindset and to provide real world experiences for their future career development and a potential lifelong path to serial entrepreneurship.

“The Student Venture Lab Program is dynamic—continuously evolving with new student founders starting the program and existing companies completing various phases of the program. A total of six to seven companies comprise the program at a given time. Many innovative ideas and companies have launched through The NIIC since the program’s formation seven years ago. Some of these include: video gaming, audiobook distribution, branding/video marketing, software development and textiles,” said Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, The NIIC.

Qualifying ventures have up to three owners; low capital needs; a quick revenue path; a portable venture (into the Northeast Indiana region); a sincere desire to be more entrepreneurial and to experience entrepreneurship; and an innovative idea or venture. “We provide seed and in-kind investment, personal coaching and mentoring to selected student-owned start-up technology ventures. The NIIC retains a small equity in the student venture,” said LaPan “This program provides exceptional applied learning opportunities for the students, as they experience real-world challenges and interdisciplinary discovery.”

During the initial six months of the program, Student Venture Lab clients build a product demonstration and create a business model, which are both validated with prospective customers. At the end of each six month term, each client demonstrates a product and customer-validated business model during The NIIC Student Venture Lab Demo Day. The audience includes investors, bankers and additional leaders of the region’s business and technology community.

Ventures demonstrating tangible progress during the first six months may receive follow-on cash and office space investment for a second six month period. A third round of funding and coaching is also possible for high potential ventures. Throughout the three phases of the Student Venture Lab Program, The NIIC could potentially invest over $11,500 in business funding and $9,000 of in-kind products and services for each company.

Each year at the annual Ideas@Work Signature Event, The NIIC recognizes an outstanding NIIC Student Venture Lab client through presentation of The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center – Mirro Student Founder Award. In April 2016 the award was presented to D-n-S Design Company. Founders Matt Vanlandingham and Lindal Walker accepted the award on the company’s behalf.

The NIIC Student Venture Lab Program is funded in part through grants from the Lincoln Financial Foundation, the Edward & Mary McCrea Wilson Foundation and iAB Financial Bank.

To enroll or learn more about the Student Venture Lab Program or The NIIC, visit


About The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (NIIC)
The NIIC is a non-profit, community-based, entrepreneurial community and assists in the growth and development of innovative companies in Northeast Indiana. Formed in 1999 by a consortium of community and government leaders and organizations, NIIC was recently recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the top four under-the-radar incubators in the country. The Innovation Center is the country’s only ISO9001:2008 certified business incubation and acceleration program, serving entrepreneurs, business owners and existing businesses who want to launch (or to expand or to re-invent) a company.


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