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The Notre Dame Pit Road Fund was launched in 2018 to provide capital and resources to derisked technologies emerging from the University of Notre Dame.  Pit Road supports the efforts of the commercialization team housed at the IDEA Center at the University of Notre Dame, providing support through diligence, investment, governance structure, and capital raise assistance for portfolio companies. 

The Notre Dame Pit Road Fund is managed by Mitchell Kokko for the University.  An Investment Committee led by Bryan Ritchie, the Vice President and John and Cathy Associate Provost for Innovation at the University of Notre Dame, reviews the diligence and work done in the commercialization process and has final say in the deployment of capital.  

The Fund’s “de-risking” strategy is to make a large number of small “proof point” investments that will ultimately lead to holding a portfolio of approximately 40-50 companies. This part of the investment strategy can best be described as “opportunistic” with deal flow coming from Notre Dame faculty and student inventors and entrepreneurs, alumni, individuals and families with ties to Notre Dame, and from local entrepreneurs in the greater South Bend/Elkhart region. The Fund’s “growth” strategy will be to make a much smaller number of investments into companies with the same Notre Dame ties to help accelerate growth to exit. In both parts of the Fund strategy, the portfolio is expected to be invested in a wide variety of industries including technology (hardware and software, data sciences and internet related models), healthcare (medical devices, biotech, drug discovery), energy (clean tech, photovoltaic, battery, and alternative energy), engineering, and other science and technology related industries. 



While this wide range of industries might appear broad and unfocused, university-based acceleration funds are not new and often exhibit similar broad portfolio profiles. The Fund will continue to leverage best in class models honed by the management team at the IDEA Center. Core to the success of university hosted accelerators is having a disciplined, carefully executed due diligence and “derisking” process/methodology that potential investments and portfolio companies must pass through in order to receive initial and follow on capital. The IDEA Center management team has a proven, well established methodology (called “the Engine”) which the team has perfected over many years while running the University of Utah’s venture accelerator and now after continuous process improvement at the University of Notre Dame.