Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, NIIC

Date Joining NIIC:

October 16, 2000


Franklin Pierce University (B.S.)
American University (M.S.)


55-Acre Campus adjacent to Purdue University Fort Wayne and Ivy Tech North Community College

NIIC Annual Revenue:

$2.5 Million


Indiana’s 5th Certified Tech Park
ISO9001:2015 Registered
US SBA Women’s Business Center
US Treasury Designated Qualified Opportunity Zone

Speaker Topics:

Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Customer Experience, Leadership, Strategic Planning, Business Growth

LinkedIN Email 


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Karl R. LaPan is the first President & CEO of the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center. He has served in this capacity since the formation of the organization October 16, 2000.

Karl received his undergraduate degree in 1986 from Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, New Hampshire, where he was graduated with a B.S. degree in Business Management with High Honors, Summa Cum Laude. He was also Class Salutatorian. Upon completing his academic degree, he joined General Electric Company, and in 1988, graduated from its prestigious Financial Management Program. Subsequently, in 1993, Karl received his M.S. degree in Human Resources Development from The American University in Washington, D.C. and is a member of the Pi Alpha Alpha Honorary Society. Karl graduated from the Mahler Program for Executives in December 1998.

What are you most proud of at The NIIC?

I am passionate about the range of projects, clients, and programs we offer. I’m proud of the difference we are making in creating sustainable, growth-oriented companies. We have a global reputation and are a recognized entrepreneurial thought leader. We have achieved this status because we see a wide range of ideas, inspiring business builders and cool companies. I am proud of the clients who entrust their dreams and ideas to us and our team for delivering exceptional value and services every day.

Why do you enjoy working at The NIIC?

I enjoy my job because of the endless variety of things to do. All of our companies are different–which is the nature of innovation–with unique sets of entrepreneurial challenges and opportunities. For someone like me who loves entrepreneurship and believes in its benefits, helping them find new and creative ways to succeed is a very enjoyable way to spend my time. Simply put, I have never had two days that have ever been the same!

The NIIC is a unique entity in Northeast Indiana. Tell us what sets it apart.

The NIIC is very special. We are driven by helping entrepreneurs and innovative companies be successful. Our metrics prove that. We help business builders across the spectrum of type and stage of business. We also do significant community outreach into underserved communities to grow the hometown team. We are inclusive, evidence-based and entrepreneurial. This is what sets us apart. We bet on the business builder – we play different roles depending on their needs – advocate, trusted advisor, accountability coach, and/or a component of their support system.

What advice would you offer to those looking to start their own business?

Find people who make you better. Question everything. Focus your energy. Stay in your lane. Lean in. Be authentic and self-aware. Pause occasionally and just get started!

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

My spare time is often spent with my family. Golf and tennis with my sons, family vacations in the surf and sun, visiting new places, sampling other cultures. Those are all my ideas of a good time. I’ve also made a lot of new friends in other non-profits and enjoy serving on other boards of directors. And, of course, my research and training travels on behalf of the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) is enormously satisfying.

What is your favorite Fort Wayne feature or place to spend time?

My wife and I enjoy The Embassy Theatre and the Broadway series. It is both an incredible entertainment venue, and an exceptional and historical building to see and experience great national traveling shows.

What do you like to do in the community?

Everything! I’m constantly amazed at how our city has grown and all of it located less than 20 minutes from my home. We have some significant community assets, too. I love the quality of the Embassy performances, and Science Central reminds me of my internal curious kid. With opportunities like these for our kids to be exposed to, the wonders of nature, science and technology, it’s no wonder we have such a talented pool of aspiring, young entrepreneurs. Kids today are starting their own businesses while they’re still in school! How great is that?



  • Karl Lapan: Connected Communities

  • Karl Lapan: April 16, 2019 -- Ideas@ Work: The 4 Pillars of a Vibrant Entrepreneurial Community

  • Karl Lapan: January 29, 2019 -- Identifying the Hidden Obstacles that Suffocate Meaningful Innovation, American Corner, Novi Sad, Serbia


  • Karl Lapan: 2018 Report to the Allen County Commissioners


  • Karl Lapan: Great Lakes International Innovation Summit Presentation, September 25, 2017

  • Karl Lapan: Update to the Allen County, Indiana Commissioners, July 28, 2017

  • Indiana Chamber Connect and Collaborate, June 22, 2017

  • Student Entrepreneurship: Creating a Pipeline of Future Entrepreneurs, March 28, 2017

  • Critical Success Factors in Building a Best-in-Class Rural Entrepreneurship Ecosystem, March 8, 2017

  • Access to Small Business Capital, January 13, 2017

Strategic Direction:

Learn more about The NIIC’s strategic vision, including our core focus, prioritized goals, partnerships and initiatives, and much more.

Download Strategic Plan 2019-2022 (PDF)

Books I'm Reading:


  • Mastering the Market Cycle: Getting the Odds on Your Side

    We all know markets rise and fall, but when should you pull out, and when should you stay in? The answer is never black or white, but is best reached through a keen understanding of the reasons behind the rhythm of cycles. Confidence about where we are in a cycle comes when you learn the patterns of ups and downs that influence not just economics, markets and companies, but also human psychology and the investing behaviors that result.

    Purchase on Amazon Smile
  • Didn't See It Coming: Overcoming the Seven Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences

    An influential pastor, podcaster, and thought leader believes it's not only possible to predict life's hardest moments, but also to alter outcomes, overcome challenges, and defeat your fiercest adversaries.

    Purchase on Amazon Smile
  • American Entrepreneur

    The history of the United States is, to a remarkable degree, the story of its entrepreneurs, those daring movers and shakers who dreamed big and risked everything to build better lives for themselves and their fellow Americans. Drawing on his own family's remarkable journey, Duck Commander CEO and star of the blockbuster Duck Dynasty series Willie Robertson tells the captivating true tale of the visionaries and doers who have embodied the American dream.

    Purchase on Amazon Smile
  • Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies

    LinkedIn cofounder, legendary investor, and host of the award-winning Masters of Scale podcast reveals the secret to starting and scaling massively valuable companies.

    Purchase on Amazon Smile
  • Brave New Work: Are You Ready to Reinvent Your Organization?

    When fast-scaling startups and global organizations get stuck, they call Aaron Dignan. In this book, he reveals his proven approach for eliminating red tape, dissolving bureaucracy, and doing the best work of your life.

    Purchase on Amazon Smile


  • Disrupt by Luke Williams

    In a business world of nonstop change, there's only one way to win the game: Transform it entirely. This requires a revolution in thinking--a steady stream of disruptive strategies and unexpected solutions. In Disrupt, Luke Williams shows exactly how to generate those strategies and deliver those solutions.

    Purchase on Amazon Smile
  • Career Magic by Lee Cockerell

    When Lee Cockerell says "If I can do it, so can you," he truly means it. No matter where you are along your career path, you have an opportunity to climb the ladder of success by paying attention, asking questions and having a passion for your chosen career.

    Purchase on Amazon Smile
  • Grit by Angela Duckworth

    In this instant New York Times bestseller, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”

    Purchase on Amazon Smile
  • Built for Growth by Dr. John Danner

    Built for Growth decodes the interplay between builder personality and new business success. Using a patented analytic methodology, authors Chris Kuenne and John Danner discovered four distinct types of highly successful entrepreneurial personalities―the Driver, the Explorer, the Crusader, and the Captain. Each is motivated, makes decisions, manages, and leads their businesses differently.

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  • The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney

    The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) is a simple, repeatable, and proven formula for executing on your most important strategic priorities in the midst of the whirlwind. By following the 4 Disciplines—Focusing on the Wildly Important; Acting on Lead Measures; Keeping a Compelling Scoreboard; Creating a Cadence of Accountability—leaders can produce breakthrough results, even when executing the strategy requires a significant change in behavior from their teams.

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Think Different: 5 Marketing Lessons from Apple

I confess I have a love-hate relationship with my Apple products. Sometimes it totally botches what I write, sometimes my iPhone dials a number when I hang up too fast after a call, sometimes lately it skips letters when I write a text, but Apple just announced the release of its iPhone 11. While its innovations […]

Read More

Launching a product has never been easier…or is it?

So, you have an excellent idea for a new product? Exciting times are ahead, no doubt. However, you also have your work cut out for you to take yours from concept to reality. Today, there is a strong emphasis on speed to market, reducing development times and commercializing in ways that are faster, cheaper, better, […]

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Leaning into the future of work

The nature of how we work has changed in the last decade. Remote work has become the new norm, a reality that companies must embrace if they are looking to attract the best and the brightest. As PwC’s 2019 global survey of CEOs revealed, the availability of talent is one of the top three threats to the […]


Stuck? Here’s how to get unstuck.

It can happen to the best of us. Our business may be in growth mode for a period of time, and then we lose momentum for one reason or another. Plateaus happen. Companies are not immune to big fluctuations in their business cycle. The challenge is knowing how to spot, assess, and plan for these […]

Read More

Thinking big: how to penetrate a national market

Photo by Shutterstock Many of Fort Wayne’s home-grown success stories started small, with a local or regional account base. Take Sweetwater Sound, for example. Founder Chuck Surack set up shop out of a bus. Their website captures this incredible success story when it observes, “Back in 1979, Chuck Surack had a 4-track recording studio in the back of […]

Read More
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Corporate Profile:

View the NIIC’s Corporate Profile – Certified Tech Park Recertification Metrics
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Greater Fort Wayne’s Business Weekly – NIIC Outlines New Strategic Plan
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Pierce Magazine – Ingenuity in Indiana Profile of Karl LaPan
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