Terre Haute Innovation Alliance launched to boost economic development, educational efforts

By: ISU Communications and Marketing Staff, ISU Communications and Marketing Staff
April 17, 2007

The Terre Haute Innovation Alliance, a new economic development and education initiative, is already beginning to pay dividends, local officials said today (April 17) in announcing its creation.

Indiana State University President Lloyd W. Benjamin III (right) and Gerald Jakubowski, president of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Indiana State University President Lloyd W. Benjamin III (right) and Gerald Jakubowski, president of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, chat with others following the announcement of the Terre Haute Innovation Alliance.
The partnership between the city of Terre Haute, the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp., Indiana State University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has started providing services to three companies that are in the process of developing or expanding their products while engaging students in hands-on projects and creating jobs for the local economy, said Steve Witt, president of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp.

Creation of the Terre Haute Innovation Alliance was announced in conjunction with the Indiana Humanities Council Regional Forum at Indiana State University. The partnership was started with $500,000 in federal support garnered with assistance from Sens. Evan Bayh and Richard Lugar.

“This partnership will help new businesses create innovative technologies and prepare students for a new emerging economy. The Innovation Alliance will be instrumental in developing business growth in the life sciences, which is a high priority for the state of Indiana,” said Gerald Jakubowski, president of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

The three companies involved -- DesAcc, InfraWare and Novus Technologies -- are all technical in nature with two providing applications and services for the health care industry. All three will be utilizing space within ISU’s John T. Myers Technology Center for a portion of their operations. Two of the companies have and will continue to benefit from the services provided by project managers and students at Rose-Hulman Ventures.

In addition to physical space for their product development, the companies selected to participate also receive business development funding as well as services from students and faculty at the two higher education institutions. Providing career-related experiences for students and actively engaging them in the companies’ projects may help retain them in the community after they graduate, said Kevin Burke, mayor of Terre Haute.

“This will not only help us attract the students we need but will provide them with the opportunity and the potential of being able to stay and chase their dreams right here in Terre Haute,” said Burke.

Another benefit is the impact of locating growing corporate entities in the heart of the business community, said Lloyd W. Benjamin III, president of Indiana State University.

“There is tremendous value-added to this project as it is also helping to spur downtown growth and revitalization. At Indiana State University, we take very seriously our role in enhancing the economic development opportunities in the region and state. This collaboration is a case where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The strength of resources this partnership provides will make a difference in our community and our state,” said Benjamin.

DesAcc, a manufacturer of medical software applications, moved its engineering operations from Chicago to Terre Haute last year to work with Rose-Hulman Ventures to redesign and expand its line of products.

“DesAcc’s decision to develop new products in Terre Haute was influenced by the forward-looking thinking of the city’s administration, the business and technical support available from Rose-Hulman, and the support we now have from Indiana State University. Another key factor that influenced our decision was this community’s excellent educational climate that will help provide technology-savvy employees to fill the information technology and marketing jobs DesAcc will create over the next few years,” said Walt Balcavage, director of business development for DesAcc.

Nick Mahurin, CEO of InfraWare and a graduate of Rose-Hulman, was also pleased to have his company selected to participate. InfraWare has developed a software platform for preparing medical transcripts and reports more efficiently.

“We’re really excited to be part of the Terre Haute Innovation Alliance. So far, we’ve been developing software and piloting that software, which has been very useful, out at Rose-Hulman. Today, we’re honing our go-to-market strategy, which is very involved. We’re really looking forward to some of the resources that we can tap into here at ISU,” said Mahurin.

Current ISU junior Drew Loftus, founder and president of Novus Technologies, indicated his startup company is developing Internet search technology focused specifically on news content.

“I really think it’s an excellent opportunity. I had my big idea, and I worked with the network here at Indiana State. I’m pleased to be selected to be a part of the business incubator. I look forward to working here in the next year and developing this business,” said Loftus.

The companies were selected by a task force comprised of leaders from each of the Innovation Alliance partners. Selection criteria includes the company’s alignment with state and local economic development initiatives, ability to meet strategic educational initiatives and opportunity for successful commercialization as well as the point the company is at in its life cycle. The group expects to have up to five companies involved at any given time.

The Terre Haute Innovation Alliance should help distinguish Vigo County and the greater Wabash Valley from other communities vying for economic development opportunities.

“Like it or not, economic development is probably one of the most competitive endeavors that one can imagine. Anything that we can do as a community to set ourselves apart from our competition, to make our community more attractive to new development and job creation is an advantage. We have a tremendous amount of intellectual capital in our community and this partnership is a way to employ that for economic development,” said Witt.

Individuals and/or companies interested in becoming involved in the Innovation Alliance should contact the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp. at (812) 234-2524 or switt@terrehauteedc.com

Photo Presidents Indiana State University President Lloyd W. Benjamin III (right) and Gerald Jakubowski, president of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, chat with others following the announcement of the Terre Haute Innovation Alliance.

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MEDIA CONTACTS:
Terre Haute Economic Development Corp.:Lisa Johnson, Marketing Communications Manager, 812-234-2524, ljohnson@terrehauteedc.com

City of Terre Haute:Pete Ciancone, Communications Director, 812-244-2321, pete.ciancone@terrehaute.in.gov

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology:David Piker, Vice President for Public Relations, 812-877-8441, piker@rose-hulman.edu

Indiana State University:Teresa Exline, University Spokesperson, 812-237-7783, texline@indstate.edu

Story Highlights

The Terre Haute Innovation Alliance is already beginning to pay dividends. The partnership between the city of Terre Haute, the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp., Indiana State University and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology provides services to developling businesses while engaging students in hands-on projects and creating jobs for the local economy.

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