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The NIIC student venture lab program.

Everyone should have the opportunity to innovate. Why not learn how while you’re still in school?

The NIIC Student Venture Lab (SVL) Program gives entrepreneurs in high school and college a chance to start and grow their own business in the supportive, structured and success-focused environment of The NIIC.

Students accepted into the program gain full access to The NIIC for up to three phases of their venture’s launch. Each phase typically lasts six months. Participants receive a modest seed investment, venture advisory services, peer-to-peer learning and mentorship from experienced business coaches and local innovators.

Download our Informational PDF on the SVL

Watch SVL’s Video on YouTube

Program requirements.

  • LOW CAPITAL NEEDS. And a quick path to revenue. We prefer ventures you can take to your dorm room.
  • ONE-TO-THREE 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.

Three phases.

The NIIC’s nationally recognized Student Venture Lab Program consists of three phases. Successful completion of all three phases may qualify for up to $13,500 in additional funding and support, or admittance into The NIIC’s business incubation or acceleration programs.

The first six months. After acceptance into the program, you will create a business model, build a product demonstration (Minimum Viable Product) and provide tested validation to prospective customers and investors. Participants must complete demo day and be recommended for phase two, or be approved to pivot to continue.

Over a six-month period, ventures who have shown tangible progress during phase one may receive a follow-on investment from The NIIC, including cash and in-kind support. In the fast-paced second phase, you’ll present your product and business model to an audience of investors, bankers and leaders of the region’s business and technology community. Chosen ventures will receive further funding and an extended office-stay, including ongoing access to expert resources. In this phase, ventures must demonstrate an ability to commercialize their product, service or business model.

During the third–and final, six-month phase–you may be granted additional funding and resources as you continue working alongside mentors and coaches to advance and fine-tune your venture. In this phase, you will be expected to demonstrate successful user adoption, customer acquisition, outside investment or actual sales of your product, service or business model.

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 here.

Discovering entrepreneurship.

Our SVL Program also offers onsite, Discovering Entrepreneurship Programs on college campuses and at local high schools. Discovering Entrepreneurship engages students into the talents and demands of entrepreneurialism. 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.

Check out these videos to hear from some of our SVL-ers:

To learn more and to apply to The NIIC Student Venture Lab Program, contact us.

The Student Venture Lab Program is supported by The NIIC Ideas @ Work Signature Event Series, and generous support from our sponsors: IAB Financial Bank, Lincoln Financial Foundation and the Edward M. and Mary McCrea Wilson Foundation.