New venture fund aims to further Notre Dame’s mission through purpose-driven startups

Author: Nicholas Swisher


A new venture capital fund to advance the commercialization of University of Notre Dame and South Bend-area innovations has reached a key milestone.

Indianapolis-based High Alpha Innovation has successfully closed the first $17.5 million of the 1842 Fund, named for the year Notre Dame was founded. The fund, which will support faculty research, student innovations and community startups and drive economic transformation in the South Bend-Elkhart area, will continue raising additional commitments over the next year up to the target size of $35 million.

“The launch of the 1842 Fund is an exciting moment for the IDEA Center and the University,” said Kelley Rich, the IDEA Center’s interim vice president and associate provost for innovation. “One of the reasons we partnered with High Alpha Innovation is because part of their 1842 Fund will be used to support an on-campus venture studio. The adoption of venture studios, or companies that launch, finance and incubate their own startups, in university settings is on the increase, and High Alpha Innovation is a recognized leader in this area. We’re particularly excited that the 1842 Fund venture studio team will work closely with faculty and students from across campus to help source and build startups that support Notre Dame’s mission. We believe that this will, in turn, create symbiotic relationships for sustained innovation on campus.”

The fund’s announcement coincides with the recent launch of a new University Strategic Framework that will guide Notre Dame over the next decade.

“The 1842 Fund aligns with many of the goals of the framework, including investing in our people, engaging with and enhancing our community and our region, maximizing the impact of science and engineering research for a world in need and advancing Notre Dame as the leading global Catholic research university,” said John McGreevy, the Charles and Jill Fischer Provost. “And a central mission of the fund is to launch and support new ventures specifically designed to create positive societal change in focus areas identified in the framework, including health and well-being, poverty and sustainability.”

Matt Gardner, one of the partners at the 1842 Fund, explained the fund plans to launch a series of startups over the next five years. It will accomplish this, he said, in two ways. First, it will invest in Notre Dame faculty, student and South Bend area startups born out of the IDEA Center, the fundamental resource for all commercialization and entrepreneurial activities at the University. Second, it will fund the establishment of an on-campus venture studio, the 1842 Studio, that will itself build, staff and launch new software startups from the ground up in collaboration with faculty, students and the IDEA Center.

Kelley Rich, interim vice president and associate provost for innovation at Notre Dame

“The high-touch venture studio will apply High Alpha Innovation’s proven startup co-creation playbook to build software startups from the ground up, targeting the key social impact areas outlined in Notre Dame’s 2033 strategic framework,” said Mike Joslin, partner at the 1842 Fund. “It will also convene leaders in industry and government to provide invaluable expertise and partnerships that can create valuable advantages for 1842 Fund portfolio companies.”

“With this fund, Notre Dame will remain at the forefront of venture in higher education. We are excited to engage with researchers, students and the community to create advantaged startups that extend the University’s mission well beyond the campus domain,” said Matt Brady, a managing director at High Alpha Innovation and a Notre Dame alumnus.

Brady said that High Alpha Innovation has already launched operations at the 1842 Fund and will continue to raise the next $17.5 million.

Originally published by Nicholas Swisher at on Dec. 4.