SOUTH BEND - A separate for-profit investment fund to speed up ideas toward development has been established by the Notre Dame IDEA Center. The Notre Dame Pit Road Fund name draws from the center's race-car branding.

The fund will offer seed funding for student, faculty, alumni and community startups, which Notre Dame vice president and associate provost for innovation, Brian Ritchie, says will fill a resource gap between a business idea and the ability to garner follow-up investments and hitting the commercial market.

“The fund will give promising early-stage IDEA Center-vetted projects access to the right amount of capital at the right time,” said Ritchie, who serves on the fund’s investment committee along with two other senior IDEA Center executives who also are experienced in startup ventures and funding. “The ability to apply small, light, fast money to these projects makes all the difference in the early stage of de-risking.”

A private group of investors infused over $22 million to establish the fund, for which an outside accounting firm has been hired to oversee various reporting requirements.