Xconomy Indiana– [Update, 8/3/18] Between July 2017 and July 2018, the University of Notre Dame launched 27 student and faculty startups, which is an accomplishment on its own.
But when you consider that before 2017, the school had previously launched a total of 33 startups over the course of its entire 175-year history, that accomplishment signals a sea change in the way Notre Dame approaches the commercialization of technologies born at the university.
Nick Swisher attributes the activity to the 2017 opening of Notre Dame’s IDEA Center, where he’s the director of marketing and communications. The university, he explains, received $138 million in research funding last year. (By comparison, in fiscal year 2016, John Hopkins led all other universities by dedicating just over $2 billion to research efforts.) “And with new research money came new ideas and inventions. Notre Dame understood it needed to take advantage,” he says. [Editor’s note: Swisher clarified that Notre Dame has been a research university for some time and is growing.]
The IDEA Center, which stands for Innovation, De-Risking, and Enterprise Acceleration, is the campus hub for “all things related to startups and entrepreneurship,” Swisher says. According to its website, the center provides “space, services, and expertise for idea development, commercialization, business formation, prototyping, entrepreneurial education, and student entrepreneurial efforts.”
To get into the IDEA Center, startups must be licensed as a business, have a business plan and management team, and undergo assessment for market potential. Among the 27 startups launched in the past year, 13 were in the healthcare sector, with the remainder divided between IT, law, and media companies, Swisher says. Collectively, the startups raised more than $4 million in investment or grants, created 83 new jobs, launched 23 products, and generated more than $500,000 in sales. Thirty-one of the 55 founders who started companies were Notre Dame students.