Innovation in Milwaukee (MiKE)

Milwaukee-area students from The Commons to present innovation projects

Published April 19, 2016
From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Eleven teams of students from 17 post-secondary schools will present their innovation projects Tuesday night during presentations at Ward4 in downtown Milwaukee.

The projects, refined over the last nine weeks, range from a bracelet to help people calm their anxiety to a plan for earning reward points using mobile apps and other millennial-friendly tools, said Maggie Bryde, project manager at Innovation in Milwaukee, or MiKE.

Read the full article here.

A Letter from the President: March 2016

In this month’s and other upcoming president’s columns, I’d like to share some personal stories of success stemming from our initiatives.

Innovation in Milwaukee (MiKE)

College students try to make the most out of their school experience, and Michael Snowden, a business major at Cardinal Stritch University, is no exception. Michael was one of ten students chosen to participate in MiKE‘s Destination Innovation program, a collaboration with Southwest Airlines and Kohl’s Department Stores. Despite never having flown before, Michael embraced this opportunity to brainstorm with fellow students on the future of customer service and then pitch his ideas to other passengers while at 35,000 feet in the sky.

Michael remains connected to MiKE through our flagship program, The Commons, a skills accelerator that seeks to prepare college students for the 21st century innovation economy. Michael was accepted into the spring 2016 session and is working on one of six student-led startup teams called Doughnation, an app that will allow college students to easily support their favorite nonprofits. Michael and his team will share their final presentation on April 19th at Demo Day.

Another Commons participant, a Mount Mary University student, found a full-time job through The Commons. A communications major with no IT background, Shannon admitted she never would have applied for the job she ended up being offered at Kohl’s. She applied – and was hired – because The Commons gave her an opportunity to show her leadership skills and personality, which easily won over the Kohl’s team, who held the position for her until she finished school. Kohl’s had not often hired graduates from Mount Mary in the past – The Commons connected the dots. Learn more about Shannon here!


Teachtown MKE

One of Teachtown MKE‘s many offerings for our teachers is free tickets to sporting events. After a Marquette University basketball game, one teacher sent us a note:

“I went to the Marquette Game with my daughter last Saturday and it was a great daddy daughter date 🙂 Thanks again for the tickets. Afterwards we went ice skating at Red Arrow Park and ate cake pops and drank coffee! She was so happy!!!! Thanks again, we plan on attending again. ”

Teachtown MKE not only provided this teacher and his daughter with a great experience, but encouraged him to explore downtown and continue attending basketball games.

Scale Up Milwaukee

Matt Carroll of AccuTrans was introduced to Scale Up Milwaukee well before the Scalerator recruitment period began. His business provided a coach and driver for a group of Brazilian emissaries visiting Milwaukee to learn about Scale Up Milwaukee and the activities growing the region’s economy. One year after the introduction, Matt has just completed the Scalerator program and has a growing list of related accomplishments marking his impressive growth. He’s acquired three other coach and limousine companies in just the last three months and received the 2016 Small Business Administration Wisconsin Emerging Small Business Award. All this, and AccuTrans is outperforming Matt’s ambitious projections with revenue that is nearly 90% ahead of the same date last year!

Stay tuned for more stories in coming months, and feel free to pass along any you might have.



Julia Taylor

Project Milwaukee: The Commons Fosters Innovative Skills in College Students

Published March 16, 2016

In order for companies and communities to thrive these days, they must innovate. A program in Milwaukee nurtures talent among college students with hopes of keeping them here. It’s called The Commons.

On a recent Tuesday night, small groups of students are scattered throughout Ward4, the old Pritzloff warehouse just across the river from the Third Ward.

As you move close to one group, you can hear them talking about developing a product to help people with anxiety.

This is how The Commons works. The program accepts local college students studying business, engineering, marketing and design. It puts them into groups – with mentors and gives each a task – either to take on a corporate challenge or develop a start-up company.

Read and listen to the full piece here.

This is why millennials leave Milwaukee – and it’s not the weather: Briggs & Stratton CEO

Published February 25, 2016
From the Milwaukee Business Journal

Forget about the weather, Todd Teske says. The CEO of Wauwatosa manufacturer Briggs & Stratton Corp. said he’s tired of hearing millennials cite the cold weather as the reason they leave Milwaukee after high school or college.

“When you ask them where they’re moving, they say: Minneapolis and Chicago,” Teske said. “So it actually came down to not seeing the opportunities and vibrancy (in Milwaukee).”

Teske is the co-chair of MiKE, Innovation in Milwaukee, an initiative of the Greater Milwaukee Committee working to develop an innovative workforce in Milwaukee. He has been an early leader in the Commons program, which matches college students from local universities with problem-solving opportunities at local companies.Recruiting and retaining young, innovative talent is one of the challenges Briggs & Stratton (NYSE: BGG) is tackling as it works to turn around the company after a 10-year decline. Read more about the manufacturer’s strategy for diversification in Friday’s cover story in our weekly edition.

“I think MiKE is good for the community, and selfishly it’s really good for Briggs,” he said. “We’ve done (the Commons) twice, and both times I’ve been encouraged by the talent and creativity of these people, and it helps our people look at the problems we have.”

Check out the full article here.

Lovell, MiKE team up to improve, measure Milwaukee’s regional innovation index

From the Marquette Wire
Published December 3, 2015

University President Michael Lovell will work with the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Innovation in Milwaukee (MiKE) initiative to develop a way to measure the intangible quality of innovation in the city of Milwaukee.

Lovell, a co-chair of MiKE, first learned about the regional innovation index after attending a meeting of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities, where he saw a presentation that discussed the regional innovation index.

“Innovation is something we’ve always striven to measure at MiKE, but given its rather broad definition, we’ve had a hard time finding a way to accurately measure innovative activity in the region,” said Michael Hostad, executive director of Innovation in Milwaukee, in an email.

Hostad said an innovation index will give the region a measurement to allow for comparisons with other areas around the country.

“This index will allow us to coordinate our efforts and measure our effectiveness,” Hostad said. “A highly innovative region can bolster economic growth while attracting and retaining top talent.”

MiKE is following the lead of researchers at Indiana University to define specific metrics that will create an index to measure innovation in Milwaukee.

The four metrics that make up the index are human capital, resources and support available for entrepreneurs, productivity/employment and economic well-being. Based on the four components of the regional innovation index, Milwaukee County currently has an innovation index number of 91.4 out of 100, according to the index on Stats America.

Read the full article here.


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