Katie Birge, executive director of Launch Indy at Union 525, received the Community Champion of the Year award during TechPoint’s 20th annual Mira Awards honoring the best of tech in Indiana.
As executive director of Launch Indy at Union 525 in Downtown Indianapolis, Katie Birge originated the coworking space and incubator to be a catalyst for economic development and a center of gravity for entrepreneurs, remote workers and venture firms. Her current role is a fitting follow-up to founding the Bloomington Code School, a workforce development program of the Bloomington Technology Partnership, and co-founding the B-Start pre-accelerator, also in Bloomington, Ind.
In addition to shepherding Launch Indy through its first official year, Katie has also started three monthly recurring events and emceed numerous events in multiple cities, judged pitch competitions, served on multiple community advisory boards and committees, and organized more than 25 tech meetups; most of which took place during the past 12 months alone.
It is Katie’s tendency to “go rogue” that caught the Mira Awards judges’ attention. Many of her community programs and efforts are extracurricular to her official duties, supported with virtually zero resources outside of her own ingenuity, creativity and sweat equity. She is quietly meeting the daily needs of those in the tech community or helping people trying to break into the community—especially underrepresented and underserved populations.
In total, Katie has herself assisted 38 of this year’s 109 Mira Awards nominees in some way recently. Her dedication to lifting people up and tirelessly contributing to the success of others is a key ingredient to the rise of countless individuals and dozens of Indiana entrepreneurial ventures.
TechPoint, the nonprofit, industry-led growth accelerator for Indiana’s tech ecosystem, honored the successes and innovation of Indiana people, places, companies and products at the JW Marriott Indianapolis during the 20th annual Mira Awards gala presented by Angie’s List, Infosys, and Salesforce. With a sold-out crowd of 1,400 attendees—up another 100 from last year—this was the largest Mira Awards in the program’s 20-year history.
Only a handful of the 2019 nominees existed as companies 20 years ago, and 82 percent were founded in just the past 10 years. Similar to the rapid adoption of the iPhone starting a decade ago and streaming services today, tech businesses in Indiana have grown from a few pioneers to a fast growing, vibrant industry that is a key driver of job growth and a critical part of the state’s economic success story.
A total of 14 award winners and honorees were chosen from the 109 outstanding people, places companies and products that were selected as nominees for their achievements during the 2018 calendar year. Fifty-two independent, volunteer judges spent more than 850 total hours evaluating applications, interviewing nominees, and selecting this year’s winners. Judges included company founders, CEOs and presidents, CTOs, CIOs, and other subject matter experts.
The Mira Awards are named after the first of the brilliant variable stars to be discovered – the Mira Star. It is also the Latin root meaning “worthy of admiration, wonderful, marvelous.” The awards represent the best of tech in Indiana each year.