Inaugural IDEA Week Innovation and Industry 4.0 Awards Open for Submission

IDEA Week will inaugurate two awards series for entrepreneurs, inventors and advanced manufacturers in the South Bend – Elkhart area during its week of events from April 8-13.

The first, the IDEA Week Innovation Awards, will be held at a ceremony on April 8 at 7 p.m. at the Morris Performing Arts Center in downtown South Bend, Indiana. The second, the Industry 4.0 Awards, will be held at an event on April 9 at 5 p.m. at the Century Center in downtown South Bend, Indiana.

IDEA Week is co-hosted by the University of Notre Dame, the South Bend – Elkhart Region and over 30 community organizations and businesses.

The Innovation Awards team is accepting submissions for Entrepreneur of the Year, Young Entrepreneur of the Year and Female Entrepreneur of the Year. Additional awards, which do not require submissions, are Inventor of the Year, South Bend – Elkhart’s Top 10 Inventors by Number of Patents Issued and South Bend – Elkhart’s Top 10 Companies by Number of Patents Issued.

The Industry 4.0 Consortium is accepting submissions for Best Advanced Manufacturing Implementation, Best Additive Manufacturing Implementation, Best Automation Implementation, Best Robotics Implementation, Best Workforce Development Implementation and Best Artificial Intelligence Implementation.

Both awards series are open to residents of St. Joseph, Elkhart, and Marshall counties in Indiana and Berrien and Cass counties in Michigan.

To nominate an individual or company for an IDEA Week Innovation or Industry 4.0 award, visit

“IDEA Week’s central purpose is to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of entrepreneurs and innovators,” said Regina Emberton, president and CEO of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership and member of the IDEA Week planning committee. “They are the foundation of the modern economy and will be absolutely central to diversifying the economy and driving future economic growth.”

“IDEA Week wants to honor those entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators who are creating the future of South Bend – Elkhart.”

For the Innovation Awards, area residents who have founded at least one company operating in the region can qualify for the entrepreneur awards. Entrepreneurs must be at least 28 years old with a business that has operated for at least three years but no more than 12. Young entrepreneurs must be less than 28 years old with a business operating for at least three years but no more than eight.

Businesses must sell their products or services across additional regions, states and/or countries. They will be evaluated on community impact, including job creation and higher-than average wages and disruptive business models with new or pioneering products.

The winners of the inventor and patent awards will be selected based on publicly available information on file at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

“We’re honoring individuals and companies with a high number of patents because research shows an approved patent increases a startup’s employment growth by an average of 36 percent over five years,” said Gavin Ferlic, entrepreneur-in-residence with Elevate Ventures and member of the IDEA Week planning committee. “Those firms typically have higher-skill jobs with higher wages, make innovation central to their business, attract funding for expansion and have a much higher chance of a successful exit.”

A major keynote speaker, to be announced, will address the Innovation Awards ceremony.

For the Industry 4.0 Awards, manufacturers who have taken recent steps to implement various advanced manufacturing processes; additive manufacturing; otherwise known as 3D printing; automation; robotics; artificial intelligence; and workforce development in advanced manufacturing are encourage to nominate themselves or other companies.

“Many of our manufacturers are incredibly innovative but they are also very humble about it. You cannot get a sense of the innovation just by driving past their steel buildings,” said David Temeles, Jr., an attorney with SouthBank Legal: LaDue | Curran | Kuehn, president of Third Coast Federal and member of the IDEA Week planning committee. “The South Bend – Elkhart region has the potential to become a leader in advanced manufacturing in North America but it will require that our manufacturers collaborate with their counterparts in industry and the research community to accelerate innovation at a pace that no company can achieve on its own. The purpose of the Industry 4.0 awards is to jumpstart collaboration in the regional manufacturing community by highlighting and rewarding the innovation occurring in our own backyard.”

Two other established award events will take place during IDEA Week. The McCloskey New Venture Competition, now in its nineteenth year, will take place on April 12. It provides more than $400,000 in cash and in-kind prizes to students, faculty, staff and alumni from the University of Notre Dame as well as to entrepreneurs and startups in Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph counties in Indiana. The key differentiating factor between it and the IDEA Week Innovation Awards is that the McCloskey competition focuses on early stage ventures less than three years old while the IDEA Week Innovation Awards focus on startups that are at least three years old and are further down the commercialization pathway. The $20,000 1st Source Bank Faculty Commercialization Award, now in its ninth year, will take place on April 9. It is presented to a faculty member from Notre Dame or the Indiana University School of Medicine – South Bend who has successfully transitioned their technology from the lab to the marketplace.

The applications for the IDEA Week Innovation and Industry 4.0 awards may be found at