16 Tech: A Place and A Culture of Innovation

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Standing under a tent on a cold late March morning on a parcel of land that will soon give rise to the first buildings at 16 Tech, I had the opportunity to share the news that 16 Tech received a $38 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. and signed a developer agreement. I was joined by more than 100 business, civic and philanthropic leaders, nearby residents and neighborhood organizers, and representatives of the academic and research community.

The 16 Tech Innovation Community is 60 acres of opportunity on the near west side of Indianapolis in large part because of the city’s undisputed track record of bringing public and private partners together for economic opportunity and growth. It’s this type of partnership and engagement that will drive 16 Tech’s continued success.

With the Lilly Endowment grant, the 16 Tech Community Corporation will begin to transform the first 30 acres of the 60-acre area into an innovation-based community for researchers, entrepreneurs and established companies and help strengthen the vitality of surrounding neighborhoods. 16 Tech will bring together creative thinkers and doers in the life sciences, tech and advanced engineering industries. These advanced industry clusters have fueled the city’s growth; working together they have an opportunity to innovate in new and creative ways. 

16 Tech’s mission is to create a place and culture where people and ideas across multiple industries intersect, innovate and create learning and growth opportunities for talent. Located near a majority of central Indiana’s advanced industry companies and leading research institutions, 16 Tech provides easy access to the brightest minds already at work in the city. With funding from Lilly Endowment, 16 Tech will leverage the innovation’s geographic advantage by creating a purpose-built environment that inspires creativity and facilitates collaboration. 16 Tech will become a destination point for talent, spurring innovation in a new economy.

The Lilly Endowment grant funds a signature bridge that connects 16 Tech with the city’s top-rated research assets, a network of walking and biking paths, public art and a central green space – all placemaking elements that serve to bring people together, create connectivity and facilitate innovation.

Work, living and learning space also is being intentionally designed to encourage collaboration. Indianapolis-based Browning will develop the innovation community’s first four buildings, encompassing nearly a quarter million square feet of new office and research space and a multi-family housing complex with more than 250 units. Browning also will rehabilitate a 94,500- square-foot warehouse and adjoining annex for use as makerspace, co-working space and shared lab space. The buildings and green space provide ample room for meetups, innovative programming and learning spaces.

16 Tech’s impact will reach beyond its geographic borders along 16th Street to the north and 10th Street to the south. 16 Tech leaders are working with the Metropolitan Development Commission to launch a Community Investment Fund. The fund, which will be financially sustained through an assessment of future district occupants at the rate of $0.20 per square foot annually, will invest in quality-of-life plans and STEM career opportunities for residents in the neighborhoods surrounding 16 Tech. The first phase of 16 Tech will create more than 2,600 jobs over 10 years, according to a 2015 report by the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice. Jobs are expected to range from entry-level and middle-skill (61 percent) to high-skill (39 percent).

Indianapolis and Central Indiana are no longer quiet leaders in tech, advanced manufacturing and life sciences. Indianapolis is on the world stage, with significant start-ups-to-sizeable exits in tech (ExactTarget and Angie’s List), a globally significant life sciences industry that embraces cross-industry collaboration (the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute) and an advanced manufacturing industry that has strong roots and an expanding footprint. It’s our goal to ensure 16 Tech is the engine the fuels Central Indiana’s continued growth. bob

Bob Coy is president and chief executive officer of 16 Tech Community Corporation.