IDEA Week Offers Something For Everyone

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Jeff Rea serves as CEO and president of the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce. Jeff Rea serves as CEO and president of the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce.

South by Southwest wrapped up over the weekend in Austin, Texas. In 1987, the week-long event was launched to bring people together to meet, learn and share ideas. The event features sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions, and a variety of networking opportunities. Music and film, and the entertainment industry were the main drivers but over the years the event has grown into so much more.

Today, more than 70,000 visitors attend the annual event that offers a wide variety of speakers and entertainment across a variety of venues. This year’s speakers included well-known names like Melinda Gates, Elon Musk, Spike Lee and Keith Urban. Even our own Mayor Pete Buttigieg made an appearance speaking about innovation and urban design.

Events like SXSW have served as inspiration for a new event to be offered this spring, IDEA Week 2018, a new innovation festival being held here in the South Bend-Elkhart Region April 20-29. The IDEA Center at the University of Notre Dame is leading the local effort, with a large group of leaders from across the region collaborating on venues and events to ensure year one is big success.

Partners teaming up on the event are organizations like the University of Notre Dame; the City of South Bend, Indiana; the City of Elkhart, Indiana; the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce; Visit South Bend; Elevate Ventures; South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership; Startup South Bend-Elkhart; St. Joseph County, Indiana; Elkhart County, Indiana; South Bend Code School; LangLab; the Fischoff National Chamber Music Association; and the South Bend Symphony Orchestra.

IDEA Week will include a variety of business, technology, and entertainment events that are free and open to the public. The goal is to provide entrepreneurs, students, and community members in the region with the knowledge and inspiration they need to help boost their own careers, studies, and communities. You can find more information by clicking here.

IDEA Week will feature ideation and entertainment events. About 13,000 participants are anticipated over the week. Thirty-two programs will be offered over seven days, including twenty-two programmatic events and ten entertainments events. Ideation events will center around innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization. Examples include a large venture competition, a TEDx event and a startup showcase.

Highlighting the entertainment offerings include a concert by the popular duo, The Chainsmokers. The group has several top hits and plays a music described as “blurring the lines between indie, pop music, dance music, and hip-hop." Also, comedian Gabriel Iglesias will perform. He is one of America’s most successful stand-up comedians, performing for sold-out audiences around the world. Brendan Bayliss & Jake Cinninger (of Umphrey’s McGee) will also perform during the week. You’ll need to buy tickets for these events, get them now, they’re going fast.

Several nationally known speakers will headline IDEA week, including Shark Tank’s Daymond John; Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, and Tony Award winner Patti LuPone. A full list of events is available at the IDEA Week website.  

In addition to a variety of new events being included in IDEA week, the event will also include several long-time events that typically happen in April like the Blue-Gold Football Game, the McCloskey Business Plan competition, and the 1st Source Commercialization Dinner.

Like SXSW did for Austin, this new event gives our region a unique opportunity to showcase the growing entrepreneurial spirit at the University and in the region and to celebrate the developing start-up and tech environment located here. I encourage you to get those events on your calendar now, you wont want to miss the first of what we hope becomes an annual tradition.

Jeff Rea is chief executive officer of the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce.

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