Interim Vice President and Associate Provost for Innovation
Kelly Rich was appointed interim vice president and associate provost for innovation in 2022. Leading the University’s IDEA (Innovation, De-Risking, and Enterprise Acceleration) Center, she works closely with deans, alumni, faculty, and students to promote a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and commercialization. In her role as interim head of the IDEA Center, Rich directs the University’s technology commercialization operations. This entails unlocking the discoveries made by University researchers and transforming them into impactful applications in the market that advance the common good. In addition, she oversees the Center’s Student Entrepreneurship group which provides real-world entrepreneurial education through the ESTEEM Graduate Program along with mentoring and programs for students starting and running their own companies. She also manages Innovation Park, an 80,000-square foot entrepreneurship center designed to catalyze startup acceleration, entrepreneurship and collaboration for Notre Dame and community entrepreneurs and innovators.
Rich is also the executive director of commercialization at the IDEA Center, a position she has held since 2019. In this capacity, she oversees the Commercialization Engine that transforms early-stage innovations into attractive investment opportunities through risk assessment, derisking, and enterprise acceleration. Rich joined the University in 2018 as the IDEA Center’s de-risking program manager.
An experienced intraprenuer, Rich has more than 15 years of innovation and marketing experience with leadership roles across a wide-range of cross-function areas – including new business creation, product development, market testing, brand management, e-business, and licensing. She is a forward-thinking, creative team leader with a passion for innovation and a drive for results.
Prior to Notre Dame, Rich was senior category manager for Whirlpool Corporation’s innovation incubator (WLabs) where she managed the very successful crowdfunding launch of Zera™ Food Recycler on Indiegogo. While at SC Johnson, she led the first cross-functional team in a newly created “Breakthrough Innovation” organization focused on pioneering new customer discovery and ideation processes to identify highly incremental new product innovation opportunities. Her brand management experience includes WhirlpoolⓇ, AmanaⓇ, KitchenAidⓇ, ZiplocⓇ, RaidⓇ, and GladeⓇ brands.
Passionate about education and developing the next generation of leaders, Rich has held key positions on corporate high school internship and innovation challenge programs. She also serves on the Project Committee of the St. Joseph Public Schools Foundation.
Rich received an M.B.A. from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, an M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Cincinnati, and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University.