Day 30: Sacramento to Milpitas, CA

Today was a tougher than we expected it to be.  The California roads were busy and the group riders were split up today along the 110 mile journey. My wife Renate joined us for the ride today. She rode with me for the first two years, and in subsequent years she rode various legs of the trip.  Bruce and Tom came along for another day, and Sean even got back on the bike for today’s trip.

Day 30-1There was a lot of climbing today with some spectacular scenery.  We did have a scary moment when we encountered a wild fire that just started. We passed several fire trucks were racing towards it and as we rode past the fire, we could definitely feel the heat coming from the blaze.

Later in the evening, we had a great event with the Notre Dame Clubs of San Jose/Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Cindy Parseghian spoke tonight at the event, as well as Matt Wilsey from Palo Alto. Matt’s daughter Grace has a rare disease called NGLY1 deficiency and his family established the Grace Wilsey Foundation. It was a wonderful event and great to see so many folks from California come out to learn about our rare disease research efforts.

Day 30

Descending into Silicon Valley today I thought a lot about entrepreneurship.  The Notre Dame California initiative will establish a holistic, person-focused perspective in the global heart of entrepreneurship and technology. One reason this is such a natural next step for the University is the flourishing entrepreneurship ecosystem that has developed on our campus in the past decade. We have embraced the economist John Kenneth Galbraith’s observation that universities are to the 21st century economy what banks were to the 20th century economy—the place to find the important kind of capital, now human capital and technological capital. Entrepreneurship is deep in our DNA as University founder Father Sorin was certainly an entrepreneur when he decided to establish a “force for good” in the world in northern Indiana in 1842. Entrepreneurship is not just a matter of starting companies; it’s a mindset that sees possibilities and seizes opportunities. “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes,” as Marcel Proust said.

This mindset has led us to exciting initiatives across the campus, such as Innovation Park at Notre Dame. The Mendoza College of Business has the pioneering Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship, founded in 1998; the prestigious McCloskey Business Plan Competition; and the annual Irish Impact Social Entrepreneurship Conference, started in 2012.

In the last seven years in the College of Science, we launched the ESTEEM (Engineering, Science, Technology Entrepreneurship Excellence Master’s) Program in collaboration with the Mendoza College of Business and the College of Engineering; the Patent Law Program in partnership with the Law School and College of Engineering; the Innovation Postdoc Program; and an undergraduate course in scientific entrepreneurship. All of these programs are designed to equip students and graduates so they can bring research discovery and innovative inventions to the market for social benefit. Those programs are entrepreneurial in themselves, especially in the cross-campus collaborations that created them, involving multiple colleges and schools across the University.

Our campus is also filled with student-driven organizations and events that promote entrepreneurship. The Four Horsemen Founder Society, founded in 2004 and advised by the ESTEEM program administration, focuses on entrepreneurship in technology. The society helps organize IrishHacks, Notre Dame’s official hackathon; supports Startup Weekend; curates resources for preparing for a role in high-growth startups; and hosts speakers for members.

Startup Weekend Notre Dame, started by the ESTEEM Program in 2012, is held every spring at Innovation Park. The AT&T/ND Mobile App Hackathon, first hosted at Innovation Park in 2013 and now co-organized by the Four Horsemen Founder Society, brings regional developers and designers together for 24 hours. Sponsors introduce new platforms and tools, and teams work to create commercial mobile applications.

The Fellow Irish Social Hub (FISH) is an independent non-profit organization, housed in Innovation Park, which was started in 2010. The organization provides incubation services for Notre Dame students, faculty, alumni, and local community members who are developing ideas into social entrepreneurship. The IrishAngels investing group was founded in 2012 to support Notre Dame-related startups, and the Irish Innovation Fund was established at the University of Notre Dame in early 2013 with the mission to help launch student-led ventures and strengthen the educational component of the ESTEEM Program.

We also have an MBA Entrepreneurship Club, a Society for Entrepreneurship, a Student International Business Council, undergraduate and MBA chapters of the global Net Impact focused on social and environmental impact, the Notre Dame Computer Club, and Notre Dame Unleashed, founded by undergraduates in 2013 to focus on impact investing, a strategy for investing in triple-bottom-line companies.

All of this is in place as we establish ourselves in California. How we grow as a University as a result of this transformational initiative will be very exciting to watch!

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