Meet Our Neighbors: Elevate Ventures

Our Entrepreneurship Master's Program is housed in Notre Dame's Innovation Park, a commercial accelerator that houses startups taking research and innovation towards commercialization.  As such, Elevate Ventures, a private, non-profit VC firm is literally down the hall from (i.e. "neighbors") with ESTEEM's main offices.

Notre Dame California Initiative

The Notre Dame California Initiative launched in 2014 will accelerate opportunities across the campus, especially for ESTEEM students, who are well-prepared to leverage the broader connections with companies in the heart of 21st-century technology and innovation. 

Photo of Notre Dame Coffee Mug

The multi-pronged initiative involves establishing partnerships for research and commercialization, raising the University’s profile among inventors and investors, offering programs like ESTEEM and the Patent Law Masters, and recruiting more students to Notre Dame from the West Coast.…

Spring Break to Silicon Valley Planned

Thirty-four ESTEEM students will spend Spring Break in Silicon Valley, where Notre Dame’s California Initiative is establishing new opportunities for networking and learning. Students will hear talks from startup CEOs, incubator/accelerator founders, and venture capitalists; pitch their own ideas; shadow entrepreneurs; visit leading tech and life science companies; and have time to schedule their own encounters and interviews with employers in the area.…

ESTEEM Students Help Explore New Venture

Last summer, students in the ESTEEM Program were given a very unique opportunity to work with real-life entrepreneurs, Bob Brutvan and Matt Raymond.  On an emerging technology.  At a highly regarded research University and Medical School.  It was a process filled with learning – learning that continued right up to the announcement several months ago that the two entrepreneurs would not be pursuing the commercialization of the technology after all.…

Entrepreneurship in the Political Area

The Following is a brief reflection of ESTEEM student John Vernon on the impact politics and policy can have on entrepreneurship and innovation.

I have always have had an interest in politics. Ever since I went to my first campaign event as an elementary school student in 2000, I knew I would stay involved with it at some point. Over the years I stayed active and became a news junkie, and I decided to engage in student government. As my interests developed I became very interested in the intersection between policy, business, and the sciences. How can these very different communities come to the table to interact with each other and encourage progress for the country? During the summer before my senior year I had the chance to work for a public policy consulting firm in Washington DC. There I was able to meet this question head on and learned about public policy issues and the political realm that is Washington DC.…

Faculty Mentor: Matt Leevy, Ph.D.

Matthew Leevy, Director of Biological Imaging at the Notre Dame Integrated Imaging Facility, is working with three ESTEEM students this year – Nick Machesney, Charles Berno, and Daniel Ward.  The laboratory is home of two startup companies – In Vivo Concepts, a platform for translating pre-clinical discoveries and devices to commercial markets, and Medical Data Printers, for producing 3D plastic models of patients’ heads that Ear/Nose/Throat doctors can study before performing surgery. Leevy has worked with two other ESTEEM students in the past whose contributions are part of patent applications.

Faculty Mentor: Greg Crawford, Ph.D.


Gregory Crawford, a Physics professor and Dean of the College of Science, is working with ESTEEM student Sean McGee on a noninvasive device to determine the ages of bruises on the skin. The technology aims to provide objective data for physicians, social workers, and law enforcement who are dealing with potential child abuse cases. No such tool now exists, and responsible professionals must make highly subjective judgments that sometimes contradict parents’ explanations for the wounds on the child.

Industry Collaboration Highlights Unique Opportunity

Students in Notre Dame’s Entrepreneurship Master’s Program have benefitted greatly this year through an emphasis on industry partnerships.  20% of current ESTEEM students work with companies for their capstone thesis projects exploring commercialization opportunities for new or emerging technologies that those companies are developing.…

Listening for your “Why?” - A lesson from Social Entrepreneurship

One of the most impactful things the director of the ESTEEM Program, David Murphy, stresses to us students is to find a compelling “why?” as we discern what sorts of entrepreneurs we will be. The truly notable “whys” seem to stem from big problems and deep seeded passions to address them. But how does one find that big problem needs to be solved? From what I’ve seen, the best entrepreneurs are those that can listen well. They find their “why?”

ESTEEM Broomball - a Lesson in Humility

Nick Machesney is a current ESTEEM student - and one of the captains of ESTEEMs first-ever Broomball team.  Below he reflects upon their experience.

After missing the opportunity to show off their athletic prowess in the indoor soccer league, over half of this year’s ESTEEM class joined forces to take on Notre Dame’s intramural, co-ed broomball league.  Relegated to the ll pm time slot on Tuesdays, we knew some of us would be up past our bed times but we entered the season determined that we could bring home some championship hardware for the program.…

ESTEEM Swims with the Sharks


This story comes to us from ESTEEM student Nick Kyratzis, who recently had the opportunity to pitch his own business idea to the Shark Tank's own "Mr. Wonderful," Kevin O'Leary. Nick, along with teammates Derek Athy and Nick Machesney, is currently competing in the second round of the McCloskey Business Plan Competition, sponsored by the Gigot Center here at ND. 

Faculty Mentor: Shaun Lee, PhD

ESTEEM student James Hodgens spends his time in the laboratory of Shaun Lee, an assistant professor in Biological Sciences, looking for beneficial bacteria in mung bean sprouts. Outside the laboratory, he conducts interviews and contacts pharmaceutical companies to gauge the market for using such kinds of bacteria for food supply protection and antibiotics.…

ESTEEM Students Assist in Moving New Drug to Clinical Trials

Two ESTEEM students contributed to a large project that moved a Notre Dame research discovery into an FDA-approved clinical trial this year. A potential treatment for Niemann-Pick Type C disease, identified by longtime rare disease researchers Paul Helquist and Olaf Wiest of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry with collaborators at other universities, began a trial with three patients in September and is expected to expand. Capstone thesis projects by ESTEEM students Matthew Berg and Sean Liebscher under Helquist’s direction advanced the effort.…

ESTEEM Faculty Sunny Shah Featured on NSF Website

ESTEEM Assistant Director and Faculty, Sunny Shah, was recently featured in a Discoveries post on the National Science Foundation’s website.  As a past participant, and current advocate, for the NSF’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps), Sunny was a natural spokesperson.

Professor Sunny Shah demonstrates the Business Model Canvas

I-Corps is a program funded by NSF with the focus of helping scientists and engineers translate their research and technology to the market.  In Sunny’s case, that meant finding out that the market he thought would benefit from his product may not be the right initial market.…

Guest Lecturer Mark Hubbard Brings Experience and Wisdom to the Program

As an independent consultant with over 25 years in the broadcasting industry, Mark Hubbard brings a wealth of wisdom and experience to his role as a guest lecturer in the ESTEEM Program.  With areas of expertise ranging from business valuation, negotiating transactions, financing and restructuring, enterprise financial modeling, sales development, organizational strategy and executive on-boarding/coaching, Mark now serves as an independent consultant providing services exclusively to senior management at established companies and to entrepreneurs at start-up ventures.  He works with public and private companies, both in the U.S. and internationally. …

Faculty Mentor: Christian Poellabauer, PhD

Last year, Christian Poellabauer, an associate professor of computer science and engineering, was working with ESTEEM student Shane McQuillan on speech-analysis software that can detect a concussion with a smartphone. The project led to a startup company. Notre Dame senior John Vernon attended the research meetings and participated in the discussions, then decided to pursue another use for the technology when he was accepted into this year’s ESTEEM class.…

Prototyping: Learning a New Language

Dustin Mix is a 2013 ESTEEM Graduate and a "Double Domer."  He has taken his Capstone Thesis Project and has - along with two Notre Dame faculty members - created a startup in Haiti.  You can read a little bit about Dustin here.

I’ve tried to learn two foreign languages in my life, the first of which was Spanish. I took three semesters of it in high school, then took a four year hiatus before I took another semester of it in graduate school. I wasn’t particularly bad at it, if getting good grades is any kind of measure. But when it came to communicating to people outside of the classroom that spoke the language fluently, it was a bit of a different story. I could order at the local Mexican taquerìa, but that was about it.

ESTEEM Outings: Better World Books


Last Friday the ESTEEM class visited the "Online Bookstore with a Soul," Better World Books, at its offices and warehouse in Mishawaka, IN. The company, founded in 2002 by three Notre Dame grads, has grown to be one of the top online retailers of used books, competing with the likes of Amazon and However, what makes Better World Books (BWB) different, what gives it its "soul," is the store's commitment to using business to promote positive change in the world, an idea they call the "Triple Bottom Line." While it is a for-profit company (actually the last line of the Triple Bottom Line), the company stresses the importance of upholding strong social and environmental stewardship. As a social company, BWB strives to promote literacy throughout the community: in addition to partnering with literacy advocacy groups like  Room to Read