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IDEA Week 2021 to take place virtually, highlight inclusivity

| Wednesday, April 28, 2021

IDEA Week, an annual event hosted by the IDEA Center that promotes entrepreneurship and innovation at the University, will take place Wednesday through Friday. In previous years, the event consisted of all in-person events. This year, although some events will be in-person, everything will be live-streamed and online.

IDEA Week is broken up into four types of events: learn, meet, play and compete. Because of the pandemic, the IDEA Center has had to greatly reduce the meet and play parts of the week, which consist primarily of networking and concerts. The primary difference in IDEA Week 2021 as compared to previous years is that there will not be a large, in-person concert to end the week.

One of the sub-themes this year is ensuring that entrepreneurship is inclusive and equitable.

About 97% of venture capital (VC) funding for startups goes to men and less than one percent of private equity companies are founded by women, according to Nick Swisher, director of marketing, communications and events at the IDEA Center and executive director of IDEA Week.

“That’s outrageous how many women don’t get funded and [minorities] don’t get funded. Because of that, we wanted to make that a really important point,” Swisher said. “You’re going to be seeing sessions about those issues every year in IDEA Week going forward until this issue is solved.”

To ensure that IDEA Week promotes inclusivity and equality in the venture capital world, there will be sessions related to empowering women entrepreneurs, increasing entrepreneurial activities for minorities and learning how to invest in companies that make ethical concerns their primary driver of business.

“We have to ensure that everything we do for entrepreneurship includes everybody so that everybody can benefit from what entrepreneurship can bring,” Swisher said. “We really want to emphasize that point because you cannot actually achieve what we’re trying to achieve until you have fully integrated everybody into the VC world.”

At least 95% of the speakers in this year’s IDEA Week are people who work with the IDEA Center or are familiar with it, according to Swisher. Other speakers were intentionally chosen in order to reflect the diversity of the Notre Dame community.

“The VC world might be 90% male, but Notre Dame is not, the surrounding community is not,” Swisher said. “It would be very easy to fill this whole thing with white men. Instead we purposely select people that are diverse.”

The finale for IDEA Week 2021 will be a live concert on South Quad sponsored by Jüke, a Notre Dame startup. It will also be livestreamed.

Jüke developed an app that enables musicians to connect with their audience. Senior Olivia Anderson, who is a part of the Jüke team, said the app will help those in attendance request songs from the bands and tip them. The tips on Friday will be donated to charities of each band’s choosing.

“If a live musician is playing a gig in a restaurant or a bar the audience can scan a QR code or get a link and they can see the band’s set list, choose a song and then send in a request and a tip and have that request be played,” said Olivia Anderson.

Ultrafab, Kealy Ewart and Felix Rabito will take part in the battle of the bands event Friday. Felix Rabito will play outside at Howard Park and Kealy Ewart will open for Ultrafab on South Quad.

IDEA Week 2021 is free to all students, and the live concert is included with registration.

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