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Jan Vermillion
The Vermillion Group (Kelley)

George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Monday, August 25, 2003

Indiana Venture Center launched to support entrepreneurship statewide

Business leader Steve Beck will lead the new center; successful Hoosier, CICP to provide major funding

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- When Mike Hatfield wanted to start a new telecommunications business, he left Indiana to ensure it would happen. Now, he is lending his vision and providing $3 million in funds to aid a unique collaboration of Indiana universities and the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership Inc. in the formation of the Indiana Venture Center, so local entrepreneurs can stay in Indiana to be successful.

The Indiana Venture Center, the first public-private partnership in the nation involving multiple universities and the private sector, was developed to assist a variety of local business founders, such as entrepreneurs taking high-potential ideas to market, owners of rapidly-growing companies needing assistance with expansion efforts, and leaders of large, established firms who are interested in implementing innovative ideas. The focus of the Indiana Venture Center's efforts will be high-potential, technology-related firms and ideas.

According to Hatfield, an alumnus of Indiana University's Kelley School of Business-Indianapolis and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, the Indiana Venture Center will provide a much needed network of support for entrepreneurs. He co-founded and was chief operating officer of Cerent Corp., a high-speed optical transport company that was sold in 1999 to Cisco Systems. He currently is founder and chief strategy officer of Calix Inc., of Petaluma, Calif.

"The state of Indiana has lost many of its brightest business minds because it did not have a supportive environment for start-ups and fast-growing young firms," Hatfield said. "This center will match investors with businesses that need funding and offer an array of consulting support, such as basic research and marketing and financial advice. It will also help individuals refine their ideas and turn them into successful business plans."

Besides Hatfield's individual contribution, the CICP will provide $500,000 to the center.

"The Indiana Venture Center will be instrumental in moving Indiana from the brain drain to the brain magnet category," said Anne Shane, project director-Central Indiana Life Sciences Initiative for CICP. "It is crucial for Indiana's economy to grow jobs in advanced manufacturing, technology and life sciences. That means we need to have an environment where people who have new ideas can flourish. The Indiana Venture Center can help make this happen."

One of the unique components of the center is the collaboration between statewide schools that normally compete for students and funds. Each member of this federation of schools will have representation on the center's governing board: Ball State University, Indiana University's Kelley School of Business at Bloomington and Indianapolis, the University of Notre Dame, Purdue University's Krannert School of Business and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

"This collaboration brings together a wealth of talent and energy from venture initiatives at the best business schools in Indiana," said Roger Schmenner, associate dean of the Kelley School of Business-Indianapolis. "By working together, we can greatly improve the climate for business growth statewide."

Leading the collaboration will be respected business leader Steven J. Beck, who will leave his position as senior vice president and founder of the Indianapolis office of Old National Bank to lead the Indiana Venture Center.

According to Schmenner, Beck brings extensive experience and contacts with the venture community. "Steve has been one of the state's most vocal supporters of new business development in Indiana. He founded the Venture Club of Indiana Inc. and the Indiana Statewide Certified Development Corp. -- both organizations that successfully focus on providing financing for growth-oriented businesses."

Beck also developed the Ball State University entrepreneurship class, "Financing for the Growing Venture," which he taught for 16 years. In 1996, he was the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Indiana, and he is a two-time winner of the Indiana Banker of the Year award.

"I am extremely excited about this opportunity," Beck said. "After all the talk about what's wrong with our state's economy, this creative group of leaders has developed a real solution for some of our problems. I look forward to making a difference."

The Indiana Venture Center will be located in Indianapolis near the IUPUI campus. The next two months will be spent finalizing the business plan for the center and building a top-flight team to work with clients. The Indiana Venture Center is expected to begin operations in October.