Notre Dame’s IDEA Center Welcomes Innovation Academy, Adding Corporate Innovation to Its Portfolio

Author: The IDEA Center

Innovation Academy

The Innovation Academy, formerly a part of the University of Notre Dame’s Stayer Center for Executive Education, is moving to the IDEA Center, adding its family of innovation-related educational offerings to the center’s entrepreneurial programs.. 

Led by veteran corporate innovation leaders and practitioners, the Innovation Academy provides learning experiences for working professionals looking to build a sustainable culture of innovation in their organizations.

“We’re really excited about integrating the Innovation Academy into the IDEA Center because of the incredible opportunities it creates for participants,” says David Murphy, Assistant Provost,/IDEA Center. “We can now serve organizations that need support as they embed innovation processes into the workplace—and offer them the commercialization expertise we’re known for as they launch ideas into the marketplace. We’ll be able to support organizations no matter where they are on the innovation journey.”

Innovation Academy offers both regularly scheduled and custom programming with its signature by-practitioners, for-practitioners focus. “The people who design and facilitate our educational offerings are seasoned, experienced practitioners of innovation in the real world,” says Donna Porter, who directs Innovation Academy and has directed its programming since 2018. “We do teach the principles of innovation theory, but from the perspective of people who have actually put them into practice and know the potential pitfalls and rewards.”

Since its inception in 2014, Innovation Academy has educated more than 300 individual participants in the principles of innovation and supported 28 organizations from diverse industries in solving challenges such as . . .

  • Framing the definition of innovation and its connection to organizational strategy
  • Embedding an innovation mindset across an organization to unleash its full potential 
  • Upskilling talent to use innovation tools and techniques proficiently 
  • Innovating in risk-averse or rigid corporate cultures

In its new home at the IDEA Center, Innovation Academy will continue its regularly scheduled Innovation Action Boot Camps, which provide an intensive one-week grounding in the fundamentals of innovation for corporate teams and mid-level leaders, and its Certified Innovation Mentor Program, now offered as a custom course to develop individual leaders with a strong grasp of innovation processes and tools. Faculty include . . .  

  • Innovation Academy co-founder Dr. Nancy Tennant, Chief Innovation Officer Emeritus for Whirlpool Corporation and one of Businessweek’s 25 Champions of Innovation
  • Steve Paladino, Global Director of Innovation and Continuous Improvement for Baltimore Aircoil Company and Certified Innovation Mentor
  • Janna Sobel, workshop designer and facilitator and a teacher of applied improvisation and storytelling for companies such as Moen, Allstate, and LinkedIn 
  • Ray Tilkens, Innovation Project Leader for Eastman and Certified Innovation Mentor

The next Innovation Action Boot Camp will be held virtually May 3­­–7, 2021. For more details or to register, visit or contact Donna Porter at