2022 UWM Innovators Expo Recap

The 2022 Spring semester has come to a close, and to finish off a great school year for the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center we held the 7th Annual UWM Innovators Expo! How did holding this event in-person after several years go? Read on to find out.  

Approximately two hundred people flocked to the LEC on May 6th, 2022. Over 60 participants, a dozen Teaching Fellows, and more than a hundred attendees gathered for the largest celebration of innovation at UWM. Participants set up booths around the Center to display how their efforts have evolved in the last year.   

Alaina Whitson showcases her startup, Afiyana Apparel.

This was not just fun and games, however – they were also competing to win the PantherBucks challenge. Attendees received $3,000,000 in PantherBucks that they could ‘spend’ as they pleased, serving as votes for which booths they wanted to invest in. At the end of the night, the votes were tallied and the votes were in – Haley Ehn with the Hounds Around Town Denim Dog Toy booth took the gold! Catherine Melotik and Amaleigh Hellen took second place with their startup POSIE, and Alaina Whitson placed third with Afiyana Apparel. Congratulations to the winners and thank you to everyone who participated in the Expo.   

More highlights of the Expo were the speakers that were brought up midway through. It began with UWM Chancellor Mark Mone giving an opening address.   

Afterwards, Dr. Jean Creighton, Dr. Jeana Holt, and Jacob Dymond gave Ignites, a speaking format designed around giving quick and quality presentations.   

Following this was the LEC Story Symphony, where Director Brian Thompson conducted the staff in sharing the story of the Center a few words at a time. 

Closing out the program, Brian led a surprise segment – a farewell to the Assistant Director of Programs and friend, Nicole Powley. Nicole helped to guide the LEC and make it what it is today. To learn more about Nicole and where she is now, click here. 

A few LEC staff members shared the most impactful moments they experienced at the Expo:  

Dr. Ilya Avdeev, Director of Innovation: “My favorite part of the Expo was seeing great diversity of participants and ideas – truly representative of our campus and community at large.”  

Dr. Nathaniel Stern, Director of the Startup Challenge: Celebrating our students: including and especially UWM and Startup Challenge Alumna, and exiting LEC Program Manager, Nicole Powley, who is leaving to start up her own business!” 

Colin Flanner, Administrative and Digital Media Coordinator: “Coming to work for the LEC in November, I had heard much about the Innovators Expo, but I never truly got to experience it. This being the first in-person Expo since the pandemic began, it was so great to see members of the UWM community come together to show off their work. I cannot wait to plan and experience next year’s Innovators Expo.” 

Catherine Melotik, POSIE Co-Founder & Creative Director: “The Expo was a wonderful experience that wrapped the Startup Challenge very well. It helped bring to life some of the workshops my friend and I attended. My favorite part was getting out and talking to the public about my passion for POSIE sharing with my family and friends all our hard work that went into starting up our small business.” 

All in all, the 2022 UWM Innovators Expo was a huge success! Thank you again to everyone who helped to make this event special. We hope to see you next year at the 2023 Expo.