Earlier this summer, the 16 Tech Community Corporation Board of Directors announced that Bob Coy has been named president and CEO of 16 Tech Community Corporation. It’s a key appointment that will help shape the future of Indy’s innovation district, which is rapidly taking shape on 60 acres just northwest of Monument Circle downtown
The appointment should be of particular interest for Indy’s tech community because Bob is a veteran economic and entrepreneurial development expert who created one of the Midwest’s most active technology seed capital funds — CincyTech.
Indianapolis has made some great strides in increasing its share of venture capital compared to other cities outside of Silicon Valley, but the Circle City still lags behind even some of its peer cities in attracting investment.
Of course, recent wins at the Indiana statehouse are likely to have a swift and positive impact on the state’s share of VC, specifically the Next Level Indiana Fund, which makes it possible to invest an existing $250 million fund in venture capital firms, which will yield a higher return for the state and grow the next generation of Indiana tech companies.
Adding the vision and voice of Bob Coy to the broader innovation district in Indianapolis is a significant advantage for the city and a great asset with which the tech community should collaborate.
Laura Miller of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP) — the parent company for 16 Tech — interviewed Bob about the innovation district and his new role as a prominent tech leader in Indianapolis. The following are Q&A highlights of the interview.
QUESTION: How would you equate what you accomplished as president and CEO at CincyTech with what you plan to accomplish at 16 Tech?
ANSWER: “There are many similarities between 16 Tech and CincyTech, starting with their focus on innovation. CincyTech is a seed capital fund whose vision is to help entrepreneurs transform ideas into high potential technology companies by providing advice and seed capital to them. Our industry focus was life sciences, IT and advanced manufacturing, which is similar to the industry focus of 16 Tech.
“Over a ten-year period, CincyTech became the dominant seed stage investor in Southwest Ohio, and one of the five most active seed stage investors in the Midwest, investing in 70 startups that attracted more than more than $680 million in seed, early and late stage capital and that today employ close to 1,100 people.
“Just as CincyTech developed a national reputation as a seed stage investor, I expect 16 Tech to develop a global reputation as an innovation district.”
What do you see as some of the opportunities with 16 Tech — perhaps opportunities that are unique to this project or to Indianapolis, Indiana?
“First, there is the opportunity to leverage the district’s anchor tenant, the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute. Established companies and startups will locate at 16 Tech to collaborate with IBRI. Second, there is the opportunity to attract companies in the information technology and advanced manufacturing sectors, in addition to bioscience companies, to 16 Tech.
“A mashup of companies in these sectors in one place is important because breakthrough innovations today integrate specialized skills and processes from a variety of fields such as engineering, physics, computation and the life sciences. They are often the result of chance encounters between people.
“Third, there is the opportunity to help revitalize surrounding neighborhoods and to create employment opportunities for local residents.
“Fourth, there is the opportunity to create a unique globally recognizable community that will serve as a highly visible symbol of the state’s and region’s commitment to innovation.
“Fifth, there is the opportunity to create research partnerships between universities, research hospitals, and corporations, and to retain more of our graduates in Indiana.
“Sixth, there is an opportunity to build a magnet for talent by including in the district amenities such as parks, public art, restaurants, cafes, retail, and housing with connections to Indianapolis bike trails.”
What is your vision for 16 Tech and how do you plan to accomplish it?
“My vision is that 16 Tech will be a major hub for scientific research, technology innovation, entrepreneurial activity and talent attraction. It will be a dynamic community that will support a wide range of research, business and residential uses, and create diverse and well compensated jobs.
“It will serve as a signature place and development project for a new, metropolitan-based 21st century economy of advanced industries and university partners; as an accelerator for Indiana’s innovation community, catapulting the region to global recognition for cross-sector collaboration and innovation; and as a good and collaborative neighbor for the residents of the surrounding communities.
“I will be working with corporate, university, research institutions, foundations, state and local government, the community and the board to develop a plan to realize this vision.
Under the stewardship of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, a solid foundation has been laid. The City of Indianapolis has provided TIF financing to help finance infrastructure improvements to make the 60-acre site ready for development.”
As CEO and President of 16 Tech, what are the first things you will tackle? What are your priorities?
“During the first three months, I have been meeting with the stakeholders in business, universities, hospitals, state and local government, the startup community, venture capitalists and neighborhood leaders to understand how the innovation district can help them accomplish their objectives. I have been listening a lot at the beginning. Our priorities for the path forward will emerge from these discussions.”
How will your early successes and how those continue to contribute to your work at 16 Tech?
“The focus of my carrier has been on entrepreneurship, innovation, industry-university partnerships, public-private partnerships, venture capital, incubation, research parks, public policy, fund raising, and traditional economic development. I have worked in Pennsylvania, Delaware, St. Louis and Cincinnati. I see 16 Tech as an opportunity to apply all that I have learned and more in one place.”
What about 16 Tech and the Indianapolis community are most intriguing to you, excite you most?
“Indianapolis has a national reputation as a place where the public, private and philanthropic sectors work well together to accomplish important objectives. 16 Tech already is recognized as one of the most promising and broadly supported urban development projects in the U.S.
“The IT sector is coming on strong as demonstrated by the presence of Salesforce.com, which acquired homegrown ExactTarget, the entrepreneurial support infrastructure is well developed, and the downtown and urban core are vibrant.”