Notre Dame Venture Fair showcases wide range of startup ideas

Author: Carol Elliott


The Michiana community can learn more about innovative business ideas first hand from the entrepreneurs themselves during the annual Venture Fair hosted by the University of Notre Dame’s Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship. The fair will take place 10 a.m.-noon Friday, April 19, in the Stayer Center for Executive Education. The event is free and open to the public.

Now in its ninth year, the Venture Fair showcases select Notre Dame startups in a format similar to an old-fashioned science fair, with walk-through exhibitions describing the various ventures. This year, the ventures run the gamut, from a natural gas outfitter designed to convert gasoline-powered vehicles into bi-fuel vehicles that run on compressed natural gas (CNG) as well as gasoline, to a professional basketball franchise that’s an alternative to the NBA, to an instantaneous, accurate concussion assessment service that can be used by untrained personnel. In all, more than 40 ventures, including for- and nonprofit, will be represented.

The Venture Fair is held in conjunction with the final event of the Gigot Center’s annual yearlong McCloskey Business Plan Competition. A total of 148 teams entered the competition in the fall, which winnowed down to 12 semifinalists in March. On April 18, the semifinalist teams will pitch their new ventures before a distinguished panel of judges. From this group, six finalists will be selected to present live at 1:30 p.m. on April 19 in the Mendoza College’s Jordan Auditorium. More than $300,000 in cash and in-kind prizes will be awarded to the winning teams. The final presentations are free and open to the public. 

The fair also will offer the opportunity to visit the just-opened Stayer Center, which houses the Mendoza College of Business’ executive education programs. The 55,000-square-foot building, situated just south of Mendoza College, was designed by famed architect firm Robert A.M. Stern. 

For more information about the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship Venture Fair or the McCloskey Business Plan Competition, contact the Gigot Center at (574) 631-3042.