The Indian Autonomous Challenge will be part of the big CES show Jan. 5-8 in Las Vegas, where Hoosier business leaders plan to use the racing event as a vehicle to promote Indiana’s tech economy to a potentially global audience.
The show, produced by the Consumer Technology Association, features a showroom, keynote speakers, discussions and participation from a wide range of companies, from Google to John Deere. And, for the first time, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. will participate, as will several other statewide organizations including Conexus Indiana, AgriNovus Indiana and TechPoint.
The IEDC won’t be the only such group at CES – other registered exhibitors include the Mississippi Development Authority, the North Carolina Startup Pavilion, the State of South Carolina, and the Washington State Department of Commerce.
But the IEDC will be the only one to have a direct link with the Indy Autonomous Challenge, which is generating a lot of interest. College teams compete against each other in the challenge by programming self-driving race cars to race around the circuit. Purdue University and IUPUI will be part of one of nine teams that will compete in the Las Vegas race.
About eight to ten IEDC staff will be at CES, sharing an exhibitor booth with the organizer of the Indy Autonomous Challenge, the Indianapolis-based energy systems network.
The Indy Autonomous Challenge was also chosen to participate in a media event on January 4 at CES. The event, organized the day before the CES opens to the public, allows journalists to get a closer look at a select group of exhibitors. The Indy Autonomous Challenge will be one of 20 Media Day exhibitors, alongside LG Electronics, Procter and Gamble, Sony and others.
“We’re right in the middle of it all,” said Paul Mitchell, President and CEO of Energy Systems Network.
Mitchell also attended two recent CES preview events, in New York and Detroit. The events, known as CES Unveiled, are held in different cities to generate interest in the main CES show.
CES, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show, has traditionally been one of the world’s largest trade shows. The January 2020 show, held in person, attracted 171,268 attendees and 4,419 exhibitors from the United States and other countries.
Due to COVID-19, the January 2021 event was entirely virtual and drew just under half of those numbers. The rise of the omicron variant this month has prompted some attendees from other states to drop the 2022 in-person event.
But the Consumer Technology Association said Tuesday it is committed to hosting an in-person event “with strong security measures in place.” The show’s health protocols include required vaccinations and masking for attendees, as well as COVID-19 testing available on-site. The event will take place both in person and online.
“A large format”
The Hoosiers at CES say the event is a great place to make connections and get ideas that could ultimately bring new business and talent to Indiana. This is a new strategy for the groups, but according to them it fits well with the IEDC’s new tactic of using entrepreneurship as a tool for economic development.
“It’s just a great format, a great place for innovation and entrepreneurship,” said David Roberts, IEDC executive vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation.
The IEDC is headed by Indiana Commerce Secretary Brad Chambers, who took the job in July. Chambers has articulated a “five Es” strategy that focuses on the themes of the environment, the economy of the future, entrepreneurship, energy and external engagement as drivers of economic development. .
“It’s really about building relationships, being inspired, seeing what’s possible, then bringing it back and using it to shape the next chapter of growth,” said Mitch Frazier, President and CEO. from the management of AgriNovus. AgriNovus promotes biosciences related to agriculture in Indiana.
The journey to CES began about a year ago, when the Indy Autonomous Challenge was looking for a location where it could preview the Dallara IL-15 race cars it planned to use at its October 2021 event. Since vaccines weren’t widely available at the start of this year, organizers didn’t want to host a big event in person. But they also wanted to make a splash.
“We had the idea to do [the racecar unveiling] at CES [in January], because we knew there would be a virtual CES, ”Mitchell said.
CES agreed, and the January event in Dallara, accompanied by a car unveiling, panel discussions and other activities, was broadcast live from Indianapolis Motor Speedway and integrated into the virtual lineup. of CES.
The event attracted huge attention, said Mitchell, with an online audience of around 100,000 people.
ESN then invited CES leaders to participate in the Indy Autonomous Challenge at IMS in October, Mitchell said, and based on the success of this event, it was decided to promote another autonomous race as part of CES 2022 next month.
This will be the second edition of the Indy Autonomous Challenge. The Las Vegas event is expected to feature a one-on-one passing competition, something that was not part of the Indianapolis event, where cars took to the track one at a time.
While Hoosier’s leaders all have economic development in mind, they approach CES with varying goals and strategies.
One of the IEDC’s main goals, said Roberts, is to forge connections that could help Indiana maintain its position as a key state in auto manufacturing. Subaru, Toyota, Honda, General Motors, and Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) all have operations in Indiana.
And because electrification and autonomous technology are leading the pack as potential disruptors to the auto industry, Roberts said these technologies are of great interest to the IEDC. “We have to be involved in these trends as the disruption occurs and be a little ahead of the curve. “
These auto disruptors also create an opportunity for companies already in Indiana to take on new business, he said. “The [automotive] the supply chain will fundamentally change or be supplemented as new components arrive. “
Conexus President and CEO Fred Cartwright, who plans to attend CES with a colleague, said the event has over the years become “the place to be if you were to be involved in electrification. and vehicle automation ”.
Conexus exists to promote Indiana’s advanced manufacturing and logistics industries. Cartwright said his game plan for CES is to connect with as many companies as possible in the areas of automotive manufacturing, as well as advanced mobility, data analytics and machine learning. “There are a lot of companies to talk to. “
Frazier, of AgriNovus, said he hoped to connect with venture capitalists at CES, as well as a targeted list of exhibitors, including John Deere. The Illinois-based tractor maker recently acquired California-based Bear Flag Robotics, which makes technologies for autonomous tractors.
Frazier said he will be looking at automation technology, autonomous vehicles and supply chain technologies at CES, all of which are potentially relevant to Indiana’s agriculture industry. But he also hopes to make some fortuitous discoveries at CES.
TechPoint President and CEO Mike Langellier, who plans to attend CES with a colleague, said TechPoint’s goal is to connect with companies that might want to establish a presence in Indiana or expand an existing presence. Based in Indianapolis, TechPoint promotes and supports the tech industry throughout Indiana.
Langellier said he is also on the lookout for promising technologies and companies, especially in the areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning, as they apply to existing areas of strength in Indiana. : marketing technology, education technology, financial technology, health and life sciences, manufacturing and logistics.
Langellier said he plans to use the Indy Autonomous Challenge as a conversation starter. The event showcases cutting edge technology in a way people can see and understand, making it a good springboard for further conversations, he said. “Indianapolis has long been known as a testing ground for speed. Speed is a sexy thing that almost everyone finds interesting.
While it’s possible that engagement with CES could produce tangible benefits – attracting a promising business or talent – attendees also say they don’t necessarily expect immediate or easily measurable results.
“It’s a long game, not a short game,” said Frazier. “It’s about building relationships. It’s about strengthening the brand. “•