The Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2024

Indiana Poised to Showcase Its Startup Ecosystem at 2025 Global Entrepreneurship Congress

Indiana is a state committed to entrepreneurship. Its high school pitch competition, Innovate WithIN, is the largest in the U.S. Through its nonprofit partner Elevate Ventures, the State has an active portfolio of over 400 Indiana startups, making it the most active early-stage investor in the Great Lakes Region. The state's policies also foster an entrepreneurial environment. Unsurprisingly, Forbes named Indiana the second-best state to start a business (behind North Dakota) this past year.

Because of Indiana's tremendous support for entrepreneurship, the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) chose the state to host its 2025 Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC). The June 2-5 event draws attendees from nearly 200 countries, serving as a platform for entrepreneurs, policymakers, and investors to connect, share insights, and forge meaningful partnerships. By hosting the GEC, Indiana will showcase its startup ecosystem to a global audience, highlighting the state's entrepreneurial strength.

“We are thrilled to bring the Global Entrepreneurship Congress back to the United States for the first time since it started. Indiana is home to thriving, resilient, and collaborative communities driven by creative and innovative entrepreneurs who are boldly transforming our world.”

Jonathan Ortmans undefined
Founder and President of GEN

Global Entrepreneurship Congress to Boost Indiana's Startup Ecosystem and Foster Global Connectedness

Hosting the GEC is expected to boost Indiana's startup ecosystem even further. The event will facilitate global connections between local entrepreneurs and global stakeholders, fostering collaboration, knowledge exchange, and future business opportunities. A study by GEN found that cities that hosted GEC experienced a 15% increase in foreign direct investment and a 20% increase in international partnerships in the two years following the event.

Startup Genome research has found a similar impact. After it began hosting Web Summit in 2015, Lisbon's Global Connectedness, a measure of international connections between ecosystem stakeholders, increased significantly, placing it near the top of all ecosystems globally.

The GEC will also reinforce a sense of community among Indiana's stakeholders as the startup world turns its attention to the state, building on one of Indiana's key strengths. In 2021, Startup Genome partnered with the IEDC for an ecosystem assessment which determined that Indiana's founders had high levels of Local Connectedness – an Ecosystem Success Factor capturing local founder networks' size, density, and quality. Highly connected ecosystems also create more opportunities to welcome more diverse founders. This aligns with Indiana's long-term vision of creating an equitable and accessible entrepreneurial ecosystem, as outlined in the state's strategic plan for economic development.

Indiana's Support for Late-Stage Startups Puts the State on a Strong Trajectory

GEC attendees will be impressed by the success of Indiana's late-stage startups. Raising late-stage deals is uncommon among smaller ecosystems due to the sheer capital and investor expertise required for success.

However, Indiana policymakers have made funding late-stage startups an explicit goal for the state. To generate the necessary capital, a $250 million charitable trust, the Next Level Indiana Fund, is administered by 50 South Capital Advisors based in Indianapolis. The Fund was created to build up the state's startup scaling potential by investing through VCs as well as providing direct investments with an emphasis on late-stage startups, which are more capital intensive. Through December 31, 2023, the Next Level Fund invested $149.4 million through 27 underlying funds who invested $415 million in 121 Indiana companies.

The Next Level Fund invested in Indianapolis-based VC High Alpha, which has emerged as one of the region's most active funds. Since 2019, High Alpha has participated in several funding rounds for the Indiana-based Encamp, including a $30 million Series C round in 2022. Founded in 2017, Encamp has developed a comprehensive platform that automates environmental data management and regulatory reporting for businesses. The company participated in a State-supported program with gener8tor in 2018 to accelerate their growth. The Series C round valued the startup at $150 million.

Indiana's increased support for late-stage startups is evident in the number of deals secured by local startups compared to regional peers. While similarly-sized ecosystems in the Midwest and Mid-South of the U.S. experienced a spike in late-stage deals in 2021, Indianapolis-based startups have since outperformed these ecosystems. While the total number of deals only allows for speculation, Indianapolis' late-stage deal increase may indicate that their startups have stronger fundamentals and that local VCs have more risk appetite due to state policy and financial support.

In the GSER 2024, Indianapolis improved its Funding factor score to 8, up from 6 the previous year. The Funding factor quantifies metrics critical to the success of early-stage startups, heavily weighted to the number of past Series A deals. Here again, Indianapolis outperforms regional peers, even as their count decreases – a trend experienced by most ecosystems since the VC boom of 2021.

Indiana's Robust Life Sciences Sub-Sector: A Magnet for Global Talent and Innovation

GEC attendees will also be introduced to Indiana's Life Sciences sub-sector. Success stories include startups like MBX Biosciences, a Carmel-based Life Sciences company pioneering the development of Precision Endocrine Peptide (PEP™) therapeutics for rare endocrine disorders. The startup has secured over $290 million, including direct investment from Indiana's Next Level Fund. MBX Biosciences currently has a product in Phase 1 clinical trials for the treatment of hypoparathyroidism.

Indiana is also home to globally-leading biotech, pharmaceutical, medical devices, and Agtech companies, providing the ecosystem with a robust corporate fabric supporting local knowledge and talent. The Life Sciences sector contributes $95 billion to Indiana's economy and employs over 67,000 people across over 3,100 companies, including Eli Lilly, Roche Diagnostics, and Genezen Laboratories. These companies bring highly-specialized talent to the ecosystem, while organizations like BioCrossroads and the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute foster collaboration between academia, industry, and government.

In November 2023, Indiana University announced a $250 million investment in biosciences and technology initiatives, including establishing new research institutes and expanding Life Sciences research. Already recognized as one of the premiere universities for startup tech transfer policy, this latest investment should spur the next MBX Biosciences, whose co-founder, Richard DiMarchi, originally discovered some of the treatments that led to the startup's founding from his lab at Indiana University.

Indiana's 2025 Global Entrepreneurship Congress to Showcase Thriving Startup Ecosystem and Attract Global Investment

Indiana's selection as the host for the 2025 GEC is a testament to the state's robust startup ecosystem and unwavering commitment to fostering entrepreneurship. With its business-friendly policies, strong support for early-stage and late-stage startups, and a vibrant sub-sectors like Life Sciences, Indiana is well-positioned to showcase its strengths on a global stage.

GEC Indiana promises to increase investment, international partnerships, and a heightened sense of community among local stakeholders. As Indiana continues to invest in initiatives like the Next Level Fund and expanded biosciences research, the state is poised to become an even more attractive destination for entrepreneurs and investors alike. Hosting the GEC in 2025 will undoubtedly solidify Indiana's reputation as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, propelling its startup ecosystem to new heights and fostering a more equitable and accessible entrepreneurial future.