Hammel, SIMBA Chain Named Elevate Award Winners at Kinetic Conference

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 26, 2022) — The South Bend – Elkhart region was well-represented at the Elevate Awards, announced during the Fifth Annual Kinetic Conference on September 20 in Indianapolis. Iris Hammel, Executive Director and co-founder of RISE (Regional Innovation and Startup Education) was named North Central Indiana Community Champion of 2021. In addition, Plymouth-based SIMBA Chain, a provider of accessible blockchain solutions, was also recognized for having the largest financing round of 2021 in Indiana.

“It is wonderful to see these South Bend – Elkhart entrepreneurial superstars honored statewide,” said Susan Ford, Chair of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership’s Entrepreneurship Committee. “Our region is home to a creative ecosystem and these recognitions from Elevate Ventures show once again our area is a leader in developing and supporting startups.”

The Community Champion awards recognize individuals who are advocates for innovation and entrepreneur efforts in their region. Iris Hammel has served as Executive Director of RISE since 2017. The organization works with high school and college students, as well as community members, to develop entrepreneurial skills. Other Community Champions included Northeast Indiana’s Dr. Michael Mirro of Parkview Health, South Central Indiana’s Cindy Frey of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, and Southwest Indiana’s Mark Schroeder of German American Bank.

The Largest Financing Round award is given to the company that closed the largest funding round in 2021 in which Elevate Ventures participated. SIMBA Chain closed a $25 million round in September that was led by Valley Capital Partners and included participation from Elevate Ventures, the Notre Dame Pit Road Fund, Stanford Law School Venture Fund and various angel investors.

The Kinetic Conference, powered by Elevate Ventures, brings together entrepreneurs, investors, educators, and ecosystem builders in Indiana with a focus on high-growth, high-potential startups. More than 1,100 people have attended the event over the last five years. The Elevate Awards debuted in 2019 to honor entrepreneurs, businesses, and ecosystem builders for their impact on Indiana’s entrepreneurship community.


About Startup South Bend – Elkhart
The mission of Startup South Bend – Elkhart, a non-profit initiative of the South Bend Elkhart Regional Partnership is to promote and foster the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the South Bend – Elkhart region. Startup South Bend – Elkhart works to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit and culture in the regional community, identify and nurture new business startups, and support the growth of existing high potential businesses. For more information about Startup South Bend – Elkhart, visit startupsouthbendelkhart.com.

About Elevate Ventures
Elevate Ventures is a private venture development organization that nurtures and develops emerging and existing high-growth businesses into high-performing, Indiana-based companies. Elevate Ventures accomplishes this by providing access to capital, rigorous business analysis and robust advisory services that connect companies with the right mix of resources businesses need to succeed long term. To learn more about Elevate Ventures, visit elevateventures.com.

Media Contact
Sarah Niespodziany
South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership