Innovation Week 2023 Is Coming!

by Sep 19, 2023

Innovation Week 2023 is just two weeks away! This year promises to be extra special because it’s also The Mill’s fifth birthday, and we’ve got quite a party planned. You’re cordially invited to join us for an exciting lineup of events, curated to captivate and inspire you.

If you’re new to iWeek, this is the perfect year to get involved. For one week in October, The Mill packs our schedule with events around innovation and entrepreneurship. It’s a great time to visit The Mill with a friend and explore new ideas, or simply to connect to community and get refreshed and inspired.

Innovation Week 2023 Schedule

This year, Innovation Week runs October 3-6. You can RSVP to all events here.

Tuesday, October 3

On Tuesday, October 3, we’ll launch the week with the second annual gBETA BragBox Breakfast. Our friends at gBETA will host a delicious morning feast in the Event Hall for founders, friends, and supporters. The Mill will announce the winners of the Fuse Business Innovation Awards, including the Bill & Gayle Cook Entrepreneur of the Year, Company of the Year, and Rising Star of the Year. So come to nosh, network, and learn about the great things our local startups have achieved this year.

That night, we’re thrilled to announce the return of Collide! Pre-pandemic, Collide was one of our most popular monthly events, featuring a guest speaker and lunch. We’ve tweaked it and moved it to the evening, and this first one promises to be unforgettable. First we’ll see a pitch from a founder. Then Executive Director Pat East will hold a fireside chat with a panel and take Q&A from the audience. Panel members include John Fernandez, Kerry Thomson, Julie Heath, and Ravi Bhatt. Chef’s Table Catering is kindly providing delectable appetizers. Mark your calendar!

Wednesday, October 4

Our friends at the STARTedUP Foundation are kicking off the day with a very cool Innovation Bootcamp for local high school students. They’ll be helping them prep to pitch at Innovate WithIN, Indiana’s statewide high school pitch competition. This event is invitation only. We’re thrilled to welcome STARTedUP to iWeek and to support their work to empower the next generation of innovators!

In the afternoon, we’ve got one our signature events: the finals for Crossroads Pitch Competition. Crossroads attracts competitors from all over the state, and the past list of competitors is a who’s who of Hoosier entrepreneurs. We can’t wait to see this year’s breakout stars! Pre-seed finalists will pitch upstairs in the Classroom, seed finalists will pitch downstairs in the Event Hall. They’re competing for a total of $30,000 in investments from Flywheel Fund. Finalists will be announced this Friday, so stay tuned! And yes, you can visit both rooms to catch pitches from both. Shoutout to the IEDC for supporting Hoosier innovators by sponsoring Crossroads!

And if you’re curious about what makes a startup a breakout worthy of investment, and how someone becomes an angel investor, stick around after Crossroads for Angel Investing 101. We’ll have a short, informative panel session exploring how angel investing works and what to expect. Don’t worry, no one will ask you to make an investment! It’s a great chance to get the inside skinny on the world of venture capital. We welcome and expect beginner questions.

The day wraps up with the Community Innovation Awards, an invite-only gala for nominees of Best Places to Work and the Fast 15 MVP Employee Awards. Gotta say, this is one fun, glamorous event!! Thank you to our friends from TechPoint for sponsoring this celebration of Bloomington’s talent, and for making the drive down to emcee, too.

Are you getting FOMO? Visit the Community Innovation Awards website and get on the list to be notified next year when nominations open.

Thursday, October 5

Day Three of Innovation Week 2023 starts with the IU Idea to Startup Pitch Competition from our friends at IU Research and the IU Innovation and Commercialization Office (ICO). This is the second year they’ve held this competition for faculty, staff, and students to pitch early-stage startup ideas. Last year, we heard thunderous applause and hooting, so we’re expecting another dynamic competition. And the stakes are high: $30K in prizes! Special thanks to Gables Bagels and Parlor Doughnuts for providing delicious snacks.

Meanwhile, upstairs in the Classroom, the Uplands Lean Network will hold a small-group workshop and panel around remote work. The topic? How to leverage LEAN processes and innovation to improve remote work. This event is open to the public, including Uplands Lean Network members, LEAN practitioners, and anyone curious about LEAN methods and process improvement.

Later that day, we’ll run a new pitch competition, the Spark Speed Pitch. Ten founders will have 2 minutes each to tell the story of their startup. The winner receives $500 in no-strings cash from our awesome sponsor, German American Bank. The pitch session will be closed to observers. Sign up to be one of the 10 competitors by September 28, and you’ll also get a 1:1 personalized business finance consultation with German American. Special bonus: judges and competitors will enjoy some delicious treats during the pitches, courtesy of Rainbow Bakery!

The Mill’s Birthday Bash!!

Thursday closes on a celebratory note. First, we’ll celebrate our progress on the Trades District and the Tech Center. Many organizations, including the BEDC and the City of Bloomington, have contributed to this vision of a thriving hub for innovation. The dream is becoming a reality! Join us at the corner of Maker’s Way and Madison, on the site of the Tech Center, for a ceremonial groundbreaking and unveiling of our next steps.

Then cross the street for The Mill’s 5th Birthday Bash!! We’ll have food, drinks, and live music to celebrate our first five years and everything yet to come. So many founders, friends, and partner organizations have helped us get to where we are. We’d love to see you there! Special thanks to our friends at Ivy Tech, who are great supporters of The Mill and our ecosystem all year and are generously sponsoring this celebration. Upland Brewery is also a solid-gold friend and neighbor to The Mill, and we thank them for sponsoring beverages.

Friday, October 6

Innovation Week 2023 closes with the City of Bloomington’s Innovation Celebration. We’re proud that our City is forward thinking! They’ll honor all the cool innovative initiatives launched over the past year. Come learn about the exciting new ideas being implemented, network with community leaders, and leave inspired.

Are you ready for iWeek? It’s a high-energy week of community, celebration, and inspiration. We’ll see you at The Mill!