Accelerating Innovation


Small businesses are the lifeblood of a community. And to develop small businesses you need to equip and encourage entrepreneurs. The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center is dedicated to this crucial task.

“The Northeast Indiana Innovation Center [NIIC] is an entrepreneurial service provider and support center,” said Mike Fritsch, entrepreneur in residence at NIIC. “So we help people who want to start companies and people who want to grow companies.”

The NIIC is a private nonprofit that has been in Fort Wayne for roughly 15 years, and works with a wide range of partners in the community. Fritsch calls the NIIC an “incubator” for businesses, meaning that they help these entrepreneurs and other business owners accelerate the process of starting or growing their business.


“We define entrepreneur as someone who starts a business. There’s a million people who’ve got ideas, but you’ve got to start,” he explained. “But there are also a lot of people who come here who already have businesses. And they want to know, ‘how do I get to the next level?’”

Sometimes they only have one question, a specific problem that the NIIC can help them resolve. But often Fritsch and the team are asked to help with the most fundamental question of all:

“One of the number one things people come with is…‘I have a dream, how can I make it happen?”


The answer varies; the NIIC offers a series of services tailored to the specific needs of each person who walks through the door. Some people just need an address and access to conference rooms; some need business coaching services; others need co-working space; and still others join a full incubator program. Interested parties can read more about the specific levels on their website — or better yet, stop by for a free consultation.

The NIIC is currently focusing on underserved demographics like women and minorities, who traditionally have a more difficult time achieving entrepreneurial success because of limited access to important resources. And another focus is the NIIC’s partnership with GFW Inc.


“GFW is a great partner for us because they are an integral link…they provide the incentive,” Fritsch explained. “As we look at clients that want to come here, GFW Inc. many times is the final [piece] of the puzzle to get them to close the deal.”

“We’re here to help people accelerate, or start, their dreams,” he continued. “We’re here to make their dreams come true.”



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