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The Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem in Indiana is about to get a big boost. The Indiana IoT Lab-Fishers, announced on Tuesday, will act as a space for businesses to research, innovate, and collaborate on projects in the expanding field.

The Indiana IoT Lab-Fishers will be housed in a 24,562 square foot flex space in the city’s tech park, about half an hour north of Indianapolis, according to a press release. It will aim to help businesses investigate and improve the four main parts of IoT solutions: Ideation, cloud data, edge software, and development.

“Connected devices are prevalent in our daily lives from wearable fitness bands to self-driving cars. The Internet of Things provides the greatest threat to our current economy, but it also provides the greatest opportunity for our future,” Scott Fadness, mayor of Fishers, Indiana, told TechRepublic. “The IoT lab will be a safe place to experiment, achieve and fail. The available talent in tech and entrepreneurship in places like Indiana is often underscored, and we’re hoping the IoT lab changes that.”

Investing in IoT makes business sense: This year, 8.4 billion connected devices will be in use worldwide, according to a recent Gartner report. And spending on IoT endpoints and services is predicted to reach nearly $2 trillion. Among enterprise users, IoT devices made specifically for certain industries—such as manufacturing, utilities, and healthcare—will be some of the primary forces for the growth of connected things, with 1.6 billion such devices in use, Gartner found.

SEE: Launching a startup: A primer for new entrepreneurs (Tech Pro Research)

Local businesses can join the Indiana IoT Lab-Fishers and take up residence, either permanently or temporarily, with annual memberships starting at $1,000. Non-member businesses can come to the lab with their IoT questions to gain insight and solutions from members. Founding members include IoT company ClearObject and Indiana University.

“We know good things happen when we bring innovators together. Indiana IoT Lab-Fishers will be a sandbox for discovery and development,” said John Wechsler, founder of Launch Fishers and leader of Indiana IoT Lab-Fishers, in the press release. “While this is the first IoT Lab in the state, our hope is that it is not the last. We have incredible universities, talent and entrepreneurs in Indiana. With these ingredients, the Indiana IoT Lab concept has the potential to unlock a new sector in Indiana.”

The Indiana IoT Lab-Fishers is supported by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s Next Level Legislative Agenda, which plans to invest $1 billion over the next 10 years to make Indiana a global technology and entrepreneurship hub.

“IoT will define the next generation of the economy,” Fadness told TechRepublic. “The Internet of Things is threatening many of the top industries across the country. If we’re not innovating in the Midwest, then industries like agriculture, manufacturing, and logistics are in danger. Without proactively innovating, we’re destined to fall behind.”

The number of thriving tech startups in the Midwest are a good reminder that innovation is alive and well outside of Silicon Valley—and that there are several advantages to setting up shop away from the coasts, including cost of living and local support. And innovation and new technology in the Midwest have been key to the area’s economic recovery after the recession, as TechRepublic’s Hope Reese reported.

The new IoT lab is scheduled to open in summer 2017.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

1. On Tuesday, Indiana politicians and tech leaders announced the creation of the Indiana IoT Lab-Fishers, which will be a place for businesses to research, innovate, and collaborate on IoT projects.

2. Businesses can join the lab and take up residence with an annual membership fee, or can come to the lab as non-members with IoT questions.

3. The Indiana IoT Lab-Fishers is scheduled to open in summer 2017.

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