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The NIIC Student Business Builder Program.

Everyone should have the opportunity to innovate. Why not learn how and start while you’re still in school? This program provides the opportunity to start and grow your business in a supportive, structured, and success-focused environment at The NIIC. This program is for:

  • High school students (homeschool, public, private, or charter)–minimum age with parental consent is 15 to participate
  • Former high school students within 3 calendar years of graduation
  • College students

Students accepted into the program gain access to venture advisory services, peer-to-peer learning and mentorship from experienced business coaches and local innovators, and shared workspace.

Download our Info Sheet

Program requirements.

  • LOW CAPITAL NEEDS. And a quick path to revenue. We prefer ventures you can take to your dorm room.
  • ONE-TO-TWO OWNERS. At least one owner must be currently enrolled in, or recently graduated from, a Northeast Indiana high school or university within the last three years. Homeschoolers are welcome.
  • EASILY TRANSPORTED. To and from The NIIC, quickly and efficiently. Students must commit to the time and responsibility associated with starting and growing a business venture.
  • NORTHEAST INDIANA. A sincere intent to reside in this geographic area long-term.
  • INNOVATION DRIVEN. An innovative product, service or business model–can be tech or non-tech, emphasis on innovative or disruptive in nature.
  • COMMITMENT. Willing to invest on average 7-10 hours a week or whatever it takes to fully immerse in the program.

Two phases.

The NIIC’s nationally recognized Student Venture Lab Program consists of two phases. Successful completion of both phases may qualify for up to $7,500 in funding or admittance into The NIIC’s business incubation or acceleration programs.



Mirro student founder award.

Named after Dr. Mike Mirro, a visionary entrepreneur, physician and community leader, the Mirro Student Founder Award recognizes The NIIC Student Venture Lab Program students who exemplify what it takes to excel in entrepreneurship and who align to the core values of the founder.


  • Personify PERSONAL EXCELLENCE. You are engaged, intellectually curious and a challenger of the status quo. You push the envelope.
  • Possess ENERGY AND PASSION. Your methodology is intentional and action-oriented. No decision is made without deliberate forethought. You are a visionary leader.
  • MAKE A LASTING IMPACT. You lead by example as a civic and philanthropic leader. You give back to the community and make a positive impact in other people’s lives. You make a difference.

Meet past Mirro Student Founder Awards winners by clicking here.

Check out these videos to hear from some of our Student Business Builders:

To apply for The NIIC Student Business Builder Program, click here.

Discovering entrepreneurship.

Our Student Business Builder Program also offers an onsite program on college campuses and at local high schools. This program engages students in the talents and demands of business building. Using assessment, experiential learning, and the entrepreneurial mindset, students learn the soft skills of innovation, learning to be leaders in organizations and their own businesses. Contact The NIIC if you’d like a Discovering Entrepreneurship Program at your school.

The Student Business Builder Program is supported by The NIIC Ideas@Work Movement and generous support from our sponsors: IAB Financial Bank, Lincoln Financial Foundation, and the Edward M. and Mary McCrea Wilson Foundation.