Failing Forward

In a rapidly changing world, it has become fashionable to talk about the importance of failure as a means to innovate and grow. But failure by itself is neither good nor bad, or it can be either good or bad, it depends on the way we fail. The key is to “fail forward.” Failing forward is the art of learning from our failures and applying that learning productively on future initiatives.” Bryan will talk about the economic as well as spiritual implications of productive failure.


Bryan K. Ritchie
Vice President and Associate Provost for Innovation
University of Notre Dame

Bryan Ritchie was appointed Notre Dame’s first vice president and associate provost for innovation in 2017.  Leading the University’s IDEA (Innovation, Discovery, and Enterprise Acceleration) Center, he works closely with deans, alumni, faculty, and students to promote a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and commercialization.Ritchie’s major responsibilities as head of the IDEA Center include directing the University’s technology transfer enterprise as well as Innovation Park at Notre Dame, a commercial accelerator designed to help Notre Dame researchers and others bring their discoveries to market.  Beyond the IDEA Center, he provides oversight for Notre Dame California, through which the University is expanding its presence across the state from its facility in Silicon Valley.

With extensive experience in both industry and the academy, Ritchie came to Notre Dame from the venture capital firm GrowthSPORT.  As president and CEO, he guided its investing activities, focusing primarily on seed-stage technology companies.  Ritchie has formed two information technology companies of his own during his career and also held management positions with Century Software, Dayna Communications, IBM, Novell, IOMEGA, Megahertz, and 3Com.  He has consulted for Eli Lilly, Astra Zenica, Ericcson, Seagate, Verizon, Givaudan, and over 100 other companies.

Prior to co-founding GrowthSPORT, Ritchie spent four years directing technology commercialization at the University of Utah, first as associate vice president for technology venture development and then as associate vice president for research.  He oversaw more than 60 new startups, more than $700 million in investment and grants, an average of 90 licenses per year, and 90+ patents per year.

Ritchie is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and holds an M.B.A. from Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management and a Ph.D. in political economy from Emory University.  As a member of the faculty at Michigan State University, he rose from assistant to associate to full professor of political economy, served as chair of International Relations and was part of the core faculty of the Asian Studies Center.  In addition, he served as director or co-director of two student entrepreneurship programs and as associate director for external strategy of the MSU BioEconomy Network, which coordinates the university’s initiatives to promote Michigan’s bioeconomy through research, policy and economic analysis, education, corporate and government collaborations, and commercialization.

Fluent in Thai and conversant in several other Asian languages, Ritchie is the author of two books: Systemic Vulnerability and Sustainable Economic Growth: Skills and Upgrading in Southeast Asia and, with MSU’s Lindon Robison, Relationship Economics: The Social Capital Paradigm and its Application to Business, Politics, and Other Transactions as well as numerous articles.