IDEA Week to celebrate innovation & entrepreneurship; 'Shark Tank's' Daymond John to deliver keynote


Ideaweek Full Blue Outline Feature

IDEA Week, a regional innovation festival, will take place at Notre Dame and various locations in South Bend and in Elkhart April 20-29. The weeklong series of events is geared toward a broad audience — successful entrepreneurs, students or area residents who just want to learn and have fun.


What is IDEA Week?


IDEA Week is a mash-up of a festival and events that celebrate innovation and entrepreneurship, such as Startup Week in Denver and Chicago. The goal is to build both opportunity and momentum around entrepreneurship in the community.

Bryan RitchieBryan Ritchie, Notre Dame vice president and associate provost for innovation

“The purpose of IDEA Week is to accelerate and celebrate the transformation of this region into a technology hub akin to places like Austin, Texas; Provo, Utah; Boulder, Colorado; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Gainesville, Florida,” says Bryan Ritchie, Notre Dame vice president and associate provost for innovation.


Events — most free — will be held in South Bend and Elkhart, as well as on campus. A primary goal of IDEA Week is to introduce entrepreneurs, developers, makers, inventors, designers and investors to each other and to highlight the economic growth and innovation moving the region forward.


Daymond John
Daymond John, successful entrepreneur and star of “Shark Tank”

IDEA Week will include workshops, meet-ups and speakers (Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos; “Shark Tank’s” Daymond John; and Matt Rogers, Nest thermostat co-inventor); the McCloskey New Venture Competition; a TEDx event organized by Notre Dame students; a job fair and various social activities.


John will also serve as a final-round judge for the McCloskey New Venture Competition, now in its 18th year. The competition has helped Notre Dame-affiliated entrepreneurs (students, alumni, faculty and staff) prepare proposals and transitional business plans for their new, growing companies. In the semifinals and finals, these aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their up-and-coming products, services and technologies to a panel of successful business people in hopes of obtaining funding.


The lead organization behind IDEA Week is Notre Dame’s IDEA Center. Standing for Innovation, De-Risking and Enterprise Acceleration, the IDEA Center is designed to bring the best ideas and innovations from Notre Dame faculty, staff and students to market. The IDEA Center, located in the new Quinn Hall in Innovation Park, provides the necessary space, services and expertise for idea development, commercialization, business formation, prototyping, entrepreneurial education and student entrepreneurial efforts.


“IDEA Week is as much designed for the University’s staff as it is for students,” says Ritchie. “We encourage all employees of the University — both faculty and staff — to come to the week’s exciting sessions.”


Contact: Nick Swisher, director of marketing and communications, IDEA Center, 574-631-2984.