Campus entrepreneurism moves from fad to fixture for students, faculty

By Tom Still, Wisconsin Technology Council

Atop a hill that overlooks the core of Milwaukee’s largest health-care hub sits a gleaming symbol of investment by the UW-Milwaukee and its partners in a different kind of university.

It’s the Innovation Accelerator, part of the surrounding Innovation Campus and a piece in the larger research and development puzzle at UW-Milwaukee, one of many Wisconsin campuses hoping to build stronger industry connections, incubate startup companies and train young entrepreneurs.

The effort does not come without risk – financial and otherwise – but it is consistent with a larger nationwide trend that has expanded the notion of campus entrepreneurism from a relative handful of enterprising faculty to thousands of students.

“We have put the pedal down even further … when it comes to R&D and entrepreneurism,” UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone told 75 people who gathered for a Jan. 14 forum at the Innovation Accelerator. The event was produced by the Wisconsin Innovation Network, part of the Wisconsin Technology Council.

Mone’s “no-turning-back” commitment to research, industry ties and educating future company founders comes at a time when UW-Milwaukee, like many campuses in the UW System, is absorbing state budget cuts. He’s persuaded that commitment – which began in the late 1990s during the tenure of then-Chancellor Nancy Zimpher – will pay dividends to the campus and the region over time. Read more …

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