This week, we broke ground for the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center which will create a prominent new gateway at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). This is a gateway on multiple levels – for entrepreneurs, students, visitors and our partners. The center is among several “Big Projects” underway at UWM to propel positive change.
We devised Big Projects at UW-Milwaukee as strategic initiatives that epitomize growth, engage public-private partnering, attract investment, and cut across several academic and research areas of our campus. This is what strategic reinvention in higher education looks like at UWM.
Lubar Entrepreneurship Center
The rate of change in our world is unprecedented and the need for invention is clear as we continue to see headlines about Wisconsin’s lagging innovation. At UW-Milwaukee, we have not waited for the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center (LEC) to be built before kickstarting our programming and partnerships.
For example, our Student Startup Challenge (SSC) continues to expand with more than 75 teams and hundreds of participants since the challenge began. In early November, 50 teams mixed with community mentors as part of SSC & Milwaukee Startup Week.
Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Milwaukee I-Corps program offers researchers and entrepreneurs a chance to explore the viability of their technologies and ventures through the “Lean Startup” or “Lean Launch” process of direct engagement with potential markets. To date, we have trained 73 teams, 17 of which have launched companies.
Once the LEC opens its doors, it will be home to Scale Up Milwaukee, an initiative of the Greater Milwaukee Committee supported by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC). The center will also host gBETA, an accelerator for early stage companies with local roots.
Connected Systems Institute – Getting the Region Ready for the 4th Industrial Revolution
We are all part of a rapidly growing internet of things where sensors and connectivity function as a digital nervous system. Industrial automation, smart homes, and the monitoring and sharing of our health status are just a few examples of the ways in which technology links with information, giving individuals and companies the ability to change quickly and effectively.
The new Connected Systems Institute (CSI) on the UW-Milwaukee campus will be the first of its kind in Wisconsin. The institute will focus on the Industrial Internet of Things – those things that use sensors to gather data from equipment, machines and manufactured products through secure data networks.
The institute will help companies accelerate innovation, meet evolving marketplace demands of increasingly technical advanced manufacturing jobs, and drive economic growth. And, our expert scholars and researchers will do this collaboratively with industry partners Microsoft, Rockwell Automation, the WEDC, and other leading firms.
Freshwater University – Expanding our Water Industry
Our state – and especially the region along Lake Michigan – is fortunate to have many institutions working on freshwater issues, research, preservation and policy development.
UW-Milwaukee is capitalizing on the water expertise across the UW System, including our own School of Freshwater Sciences, UW-Madison’s Water Resources Institute and Water Science & Engineering Laboratory, UW-Whitewater’s Institute for Water Business Curriculum, UW-Extension/UW-Stevens Point’s Center for Watershed Science & Education, UW-Green Bay’s Watershed Monitoring Program, and others.
UWM is playing a pivotal role in planning for collaborative research and curriculum development with these institutions and with industry to push Wisconsin to the forefront of water research, education and training worldwide.
These are some examples of Big Projects but there also are many other integrative and impactful activities underway. As one of America’s top 115 research institutions UW-Milwaukee serve as an idea factory of discoveries and innovations. The added value and impact for our state and region come from our vibrant partnerships, collaboration and vital ‘Big Projects.’
Mark A. Mone
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee