Avdeev, Basting named as first two Kellner fellows in entrepreneurship

UWM faculty members Ilya Avdeev and Anne Basting have been named as the first Kellner Entrepreneurship Fellows. The positions are awarded to UWM scholars who contribute to the growing culture of entrepreneurship at UWM through research and teaching.

Avdeev, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Basting, a professor of theater, are supported by the Mary and Ted Kellner Fund for Entrepreneurship, which was established in 2016 through a gift from the Kelben Foundation to fund faculty and staff at the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center at UWM.

Ilya Avdeev and Anne Basting
Ilya Avdeev and Anne Basting

The work of the fellows aims to bolster the regional economy by creating new enterprises and helping improve the success of UWM graduates by teaching them skills through hands-on entrepreneurial experiences.

Both Avdeev and Basting are champions of entrepreneurship and innovation at UWM.

Avdeev is a principal investigator of the I-Corps Training Site in southeastern Wisconsin. Backed by the National Science Foundation, the I-Corps site is a partnership among five Milwaukee universities. It equips academic scientists with the skills to launch startup companies from ideas that emerge from research.

He also is co-founder of the UWM Student Startup Challenge, an all-campus program that grew out of his “Product Realization” course. Students in the course gain real-world experience with local industries by designing, producing and testing a prototype that could eventually lead to corporate sponsorship.

Over the 15-week process, students collaborate across multiple disciplines creating a mosaic team made up of designers, software engineers, artists and engineers. This course was among the first to be designated as an Ideas Challenge course, which embeds entrepreneurship and innovation into existing courses.

Avdeev also leads the UWM University Innovation Fellows program, in which UWM student leaders train with their colleagues from across the country at Stanford University to become “change agents” for entrepreneurship. Since its inception, a dozen UWM students have completed the training.

Basting’s work during the past 15 years has focused on enriching the lives of elders through long-term care embedded with cognitive art projects. She was nationally recognized as a 2016 MacArthur Fellow for her revolutionary eldercare program TimeSlips, which facilitates storytelling through imagination rather than memory and encourages intergenerational connections.

Through UWM’s Student Startup Challenge, students are gaining a new perspective on social innovation with Basting’s expert guidance.  She leads a “social enterprise” track within the competition that is helping UWM students determine how to launch, sustain and scale their social enterprises.

Her “Performing Communities” course, also an Ideas Challenge course, has served as a launch platform for social enterprises. The class teaches students how to collaborate with community partners in order to identify social change goals and learn skills to facilitate that change.

Basting shares her experience in scaling up the TimeSlips program. She created a nonprofit organization that offers certification and train-the-trainer models. TimeSlips now has creative facilitators in 42 states and 12 countries.

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