Find the people, resources, news & events that interest you.
One enterprise hopes to implement a low-cost distribution platform for delivering safe drinking water to people in developing countries.
Another proposes to develop ways to engage low-income and minority parents in their children’s education.
Whatever their individual passions, the five initial social venture clients of FISH (Fellow Irish Social Hub) share one distinctive trait: All of them are tackling the challenge to make the world a better place — a philosophy that aligns directly with the University of Notre Dame’s commitment to service.
This commitment to service is also what drove Notre Dame alumnus Brendan Maher to create FISH, located at Innovation Park at Notre Dame.
FISH is an independent, nonprofit organization that invites Notre Dame students, faculty, alumni and local community members to help develop socially innovative ideas into enterprises that translate those ideas into real results.
The FISH business incubator program is designed to prepare each client to launch a social enterprise and maximize its impact on society.
“Notre Dame has provided faculty and students with a chance to think more critically through its expansive overseas studies and community-based outreach programs,” says Maher, FISH founder and president. “When tomorrow’s leaders observe the world from beyond their campus confines, they tend to ask the big questions: ‘What am I seeing, why is it happening, and how can this be changed?’
“Our observation was that many of the valuable natural resources and strengths of the University were diluted by the silos within which they operate,” he says. “We thought it would be beneficial to create a centralized, one-stop shop where human and intellectual capital could connect with professional and financial capital. That’s where FISH comes in.”
FISH provides a full suite of incubation services to promising social entrepreneurs through a centralized infrastructure. This hub, housed at Innovation Park, provides FISH a physical environment in which to marry aspirations and ideas with resources and the strong heritage of social entrepreneurship at Notre Dame.
“Through FISH, we can engage alums on a professional and a personal level,” Maher says. “The Notre Dame family collectively possesses a wealth of unique and sometimes esoteric expertise critical to our clients’ success. FISH provides a very powerful opportunity for the university to connect with its alumni. To that end, Innovation Park lends us credibility when making those connections.”
Maher explains that he connected with Innovation Park because its proximity to campus affords access to campus resources such as faculty advisors and the Career Center.
“I’ve since found that it’s a first-class facility with a collaborative environment and an incredibly supportive staff. There were so many pre-existing relationships the Park had developed which enabled us to avoid redundancies and to accelerate the time to market on behalf of our clients.
“This is a groundbreaking effort, and FISH could not have come together without a partner like Innovation Park,” Maher says. “It’s second to none.”