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Kelley Rich: Fighting poverty with university spinouts

Can university spinouts help fight poverty? That’s a question Kelley Rich, interim vice-president for innovation at the University of Notre Dame, is trying to answer as head of the institution’s innovation hub IDEA Center. It’s part of a campus-wide initiative launched in January 2024 that will see increased poverty research taking place — it gets to the heart of the private Catholic university’s mission of bringing about positive societal change.

Rich recently signed a partnership with High Alpha Innovation, an Indiana-based venture studio operator that will put a venture studio, with a first focus on poverty, on campus. High Alpha is also the general partner running the 1842 Fund, a fund that will invest in university spinouts, as well as student and community startups. The fund, which has a target of raising $35m, will work in close partnership with the IDEA Center to fund impact-focused spinouts.

This is Notre Dame’s second university venture fund — its first, Pit Road Fund, is fully deployed. The university has decided against managing a second fund itself, in part because of a perceived conflict of interest, Rich explains in the podcast.

Follow Thierry on LinkedIn.

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