A collaboration between the University of Notre Dame’s IDEA Center and the OSV Innovation Challenge this summer aims to establish a broad entrepreneurial ecosystem for Catholic entrepreneurs with spiritual and leadership dimensions as well as startup business strategies.
The partnership has created a structured Accelerator to support 12 Innovation Challenge finalists through a 10-week program for entrepreneurial education and faith formation, followed by six months of one-on-one mentoring and coaching. OSV, founded as Our Sunday Visitor in 1912, is now a leading publisher and digital solutions provider for Catholic institutions and individuals,
“The 10-week Accelerator formed out of our partnership with Notre Dame’s IDEA Center and SENT is a pivotal element of our OSV Innovation Challenge,” said OSV Institute President Jason Shanks. “With the help of the team at the IDEA Center, we’re now able to broaden the Challenge’s impact by providing our finalists custom entrepreneurial curriculum as well as open a door to mentors, investors, and others looking to support leading innovators.”
OSV Institute Director of Marketing Jason Nees said the company launched the Innovation Challenge last August to help motivate Catholic entrepreneurs to advance the New Evangelism. The 12 finalists were chosen from nearly 400 applicants.
Participants can access more than $100,000 in perks through the IDEA Center to boost their launch. The program will culminate with a Demo Day engaging potential investors, advisors, and board members from the Notre Dame and OSV networks focused on Catholic ministry and evangelization.
“We believe that there is a group out there that cares about supporting these types of entrepreneurs, but they don’t have a good convening event,” said John Henry, the IDEA Center’s director of student startups, adding that the structure resembles the well-known seed-funding Y Combinator with additional components.
“In business terms, we’re trying to knit together a fragmented entrepreneurial ecosystem. We see ourselves joining this type of movement that is built to support the Catholic innovators. Y Combinator doesn’t capture all these elements.”
Henry said he expects the initiative to engage a broad swath of the Notre Dame campus, including the McGrath Institute for Church Life, the Grotto Network, and fields such as poverty studies and intergenerational faith transfer that some Investment Challenge participants address.