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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
The Observer

Second annual IDEA week to promote innovation through speakers, competition

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is trying to rebrand the city as a center for innovation.

“We have increasingly positioned ourselves as what we’re calling the ‘beta city,’” Buttigieg said. “The kind of place where an idea, whose time has come but nobody knows it yet, is ready to be tested in a place that is big enough to be complex, big enough to be worth trying to solve a problem here, big enough that it matters if something works here, but still small enough that we can try something from the first time.”

Bryan Richie, Notre Dame vice president and associate provost for innovation, speaks at Tuesday's IDEA Week press conference.

As part of this desire to bring new ideas to the region, Buttigieg and the city of South Bend have partnered with the city of Elkhart and Notre Dame to host IDEA Week 2019, the second-annual staging of a week-long event that, according to the event’s press release, “celebrates innovation, entrepreneurs and the incubation of new ideas.” The week will run from April 8 to April 13.

At a press conference held at the Pepsi Stadium Club at Four Winds Field in South Bend, Buttigieg; Notre Dame Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves; Bryan Ritchie, Notre Dame vice president and associate provost for innovation; Susan Ford, the president of SEMMA Health, South Bend; and Amish Shah, the CEO of Kem Krest in Elkhart detailed the plans for this years’ event.

Ritchie announced scientist Bill Nye and Kevin Kelly, the co-founder of Wired magazine, will serve as IDEA Week’s keynote speakers.

Ritchie said Nye will bring help bring key insights on science and technology to the event.

“[Nye is] a man with a mission to help foster a scientifically literate society, to help people everywhere understand and appreciate the science that makes our world work,” Ritchie said. “Making science entertaining and accessible is something Bill has been doing most of his life.”

In addition to these speakers, IDEA Week, which had 18,000 people attend at least one event last year, will host the McCloskey New Venture competition which, according to the press release, will “offer prizes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, meetups, workshops additional technology experiences and various social activities.”

Country music singer Tim McGraw will also perform at Purcell Pavillion on April 13 as part of IDEA Week and attendees will have the opportunity to test out autonomous vehicles.

Ritchie said more events will be announced in the coming months.

Buttigieg said IDEA Week will provide South Bend residents the opportunity to collaborate with visitors from around the country on projects.

“South Bend, and the region around us, is exactly the kind of place we can pioneer and develop innovate solutions for the private, public, academic and social sectors,” he said. “And IDEA Week is a fantastic platform for us to gain new ideas and show off all of the things we’re proud of.”

Affleck-Graves said IDEA week, and the overall growth of business in South Bend, will help the University.

“It’s these new ideas and the innovation that’s going to grow our region, and as the region grows, Notre Dame is going to benefit. … It’s our future, we’re not a company that can move anywhere else,” he said.

Affleck-Graves further added that IDEA Week represents a new era of collaboration between the city and the University.

“Having lived here for 33 years in this region, the last few years have been the first time that I’ve felt we’ve come together … the most gratifying thing for me is to see corporations and individuals and [nonprofits] all working for the common good and working for a common goal,” he said.