NIIC CEO Leaving, Named Director-Incubation Services, UF Innovate

Tammy Allen, Director | Marketing & Programs, The NIIC

For Immediate Release

April 30, 2021, Fort Wayne, Ind.Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, The NIIC (www.theniic.org), has announced that he has accepted the position of Director – UF Innovate | Incubation Services for the University of Florida (UF) (https://innovate.research.ufl.edu).

The UF Innovate | Incubation Services team leverages the world-class capabilities of the university’s research and technology commercialization prowess and combines it with programming, resources, and networking opportunities designed to support dynamic startups and growth companies. This includes overseeing the administration and operations of two world-class, award-winning facilities – the UF Innovate | Sid Martin Biotech and the UF Innovate| Hub and serving the University’s commercialization interests with Progress Park and the Gainesville Innovation District.

The NIIC board of directors named LaPan as the first President and CEO in October 2000. Prior to joining the NIIC, he served as the President and CEO of NBS Imaging Systems, Inc., an advanced biometrics identification company in Fort Wayne.

“For the past 21 years, it has been an honor and privilege to serve our entrepreneurial community and to work with the professional team at the NIIC to build a more inclusive and entrepreneurial community in Northeast Indiana,” LaPan said. “I am so grateful to the NIIC Board for trusting the development of the NIIC to me. I appreciate the entrepreneurs, donors, and stakeholders who believed in and engaged with us over the years. Growing the hometown team, delivering higher quality, higher-paying jobs, and advancing and advocating for entrepreneurs, innovators, and inclusive business builders have been important strategic initiatives I have been committed to and been passionate about for the past several decades.”

Larry Rowland, NIIC Board Chair, stated, “We have been fortunate to have Karl lead and position the NIIC as an award-winning, best-in-class resource center for entrepreneurs and innovators. His ability to execute our strategic plan has resulted in global recognition and awards, significant economic impact in our community and state, and the advancement of many important inclusive prosperity initiatives to deliver services to underrepresented segments of our community. We greatly appreciate how he has championed and supported the development of a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northeast Indiana. He is a strong advocate and has raised the awareness and significance of entrepreneurship globally.”

Under LaPan’s leadership, the NIIC Team has:

  • Built a broad portfolio of inclusive entrepreneurial support grants, including the Foellinger Foundation Breakthrough Program, to support greater access to entrepreneurial services by underrepresented groups and embrace inclusive prosperity as integral to NIIC’s strategic vision.
  • Established the WEOC (Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center) WBC six years ago to better and more effectively serve women business owners.
  • Obtained numerous credentials and awards, including:
    • InBIA Mixed-Use Entrepreneur Center of the Year (2020) and The Dinah Adkins Award (2020),
    • Designation as an Indiana Certified Tech Park and Opportunity Zone,
    • ISO9001:2015 ISO registration, and
    • Recognition by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the five best under the radar incubators in the United States.
  • Delivered exceptional Park Campus performance results, including:
    • 2,351 FTE jobs created,
    • $100.4 Million investment secured by the NIIC and its clients,
    • 196 client patents applied for or granted and nearly 500 commercial products,
    • $149.5 Million total payroll generated on the NIIC Campus since inception, and
    • $55,992 average wage rate—significantly higher than the community average.
  • Expanded our Campus Master Plan to include an Emerging Growth Center for established and growing companies,
  • Secured initial and three recertifications of the Indiana Certified Tech Park,
  • Launched Kiva Northeast Indiana (less than 30 hubs in the U.S.) in collaboration with the City of Ft. Wayne, SEED, and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, devoted to funding inclusive, diverse entrepreneurs in Northeast Indiana.

Consistent with effective governance practices, the NIIC has an established succession planning process. Larry Rowland will appoint a Presidential Search Committee, led by NIIC Vice-Chair Ron Elsenbaumer, Chancellor, Purdue Fort Wayne. The search committee will make recommendations to the NIIC Executive Committee and the entire board on a suitable replacement.

About The NIIC

499 new products launched, 196 patent applications submitted or granted, and 2,351 jobs created—that is what entrepreneurs had achieved through The NIIC since its inception two decades ago. The NIIC has also connected Northeast Indiana companies to attract $100.4 million in grants and capital.

The NIIC is a non-profit, vibrant entrepreneurial community designed to advise entrepreneurs to plan, launch, and grow successful business ventures. The NIIC bolsters innovative companies to move ideas into action. The NIIC is located in a designated U.S. Small Business Administration HUB Zone. In April 2018, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb designated The Northeast Indiana Innovation Park Campus as an Opportunity Zone through the U.S. Treasury. The NIIC is the country’s only ISO9001:2015 registered business incubation and acceleration program. Additionally, the International Business Innovation Association (inbia.org) recognized the NIIC as the 2020 Entrepreneur Center of the Year – Mixed-use and awarded it one of the two prestigious industry awards – the 2020 Dinah Adkins Award. TheNIIC.org. Click here for The NIIC press kit.

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