The Commons

The Commons initiative announces launch and new office space

Kickoff to take place in Walker’s Point office Nov. 7-9

MILWAUKEE, October 27, 2014 – The Commons announced its launch program and new offices in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood today. The Commons, a groundbreaking industry-academic collaborative to accelerate ideas, is led by the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Innovation in Milwaukee (MiKE) initiative and Startup Milwaukee.

The Commons Launch kicks off November 7-9 at The Commons offices, a 4,000-square-foot office space at 170 S. 1st St in Walker’s Point, an emerging innovation district. The Commons thanks Mandel Group Inc. and Pierce Engineers for their help and support in creating a headquarters for The Commons. Other neighborhood locations, including the Global Water Center, 88Nine Radio Milwaukee and PKWARE, will provide additional breakout space for teams to work throughout the weekend.

At the launch, college students from 21 colleges and universities throughout Southeast Wisconsin will come together in an intense 48-hour event to form teams and launch startups or conquer real-world innovation challenges from local companies. The weekend will wrap up with a large pitch event where teams will present their accomplishments and outline their next steps for the coming semester.

The launch event is free to college students with diverse skill sets, areas of study and academic levels at local colleges and universities.

“21 colleges and universities from throughout Southeast Wisconsin will participate in The Commons launch,” said Matt Cordio, co-founder and CEO of Startup Milwaukee and co-founder of The Commons. “We are excited to have broad support from the academic community.”

“Nine companies have already signed on as corporate partners,” said MiKE executive director and The Commons co-founder Michael Hostad. “They’re eager to work with some of the brightest collegiate minds in the Milwaukee region and are hopeful that The Commons will serve as a source of hirable talent.”

There are two distinct tracks within The Commons launch: the corporate innovation track and the startup track. In the corporate innovation track, students connect with regional businesses for experiential learning that prepares them for the workforce awaiting them after graduation. Corporations partnering with The Commons, including Briggs & Stratton Corporation, Direct Supply, Kohl’s, ManpowerGroup, Potawatomi Business Development Corporation, Okanjo, The Milwaukee Bucks, The Good Jobs, and Workshop Architects, will present real-world business challenges to teams of students who will work with corporate and academic mentors to find a solution and implement the solution through the spring 2015 semester.

Students in the startup track will get a crash course in hands-on leadership, business development, sales and critical thinking. They can submit their own startup ideas and build their founding teams, or get in on the ground floor of another idea. Over the weekend, teams will build a prototype product and secure initial customers. Work will continue through the spring 2015 semester. The emerging entrepreneurs participating in The Commons Launch won’t be going it alone – several successful entrepreneurs and investors have offered to serve as mentors during the course of the program.

The Commons pilot programming continues after the weekend as teams continue to regularly meet with mentors and make progress during workshops hosted through the spring 2015 semester. The full program is expected to launch after the spring 2015 semester.

For more information and to register for the launch weekend, please visit


The Commons announces headquarters, launch of pilot programming

From BizTimes
Published October 27, 2014

The Commons has established a home in a 4,000-square-foot office space at 170 S. 1st St. in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood, according to an announcement made today by the nonprofit collaborative.

The Commons, first announced in August, is a venture headed by the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Innovation in Milwaukee (MiKE) initiative and Startup Milwaukee, with foundational support from a host of academic institutions and businesses across southeastern Wisconsin. The Commons plans to operate a mentor-driven, seed accelerator program through which entrepreneurial-minded college students can grow early-stage companies and connect with area corporations seeking talent.

Read the full article here.

‘Commons’ student accelerator opens office, launches pilot program

From The Milwaukee Business Journal
Published October 27, 2014

The Commons university startup accelerator collaboration launches its pilot program in Milwaukee in November, based out of offices in the Walker’s Point “Innovation District” now under development.

The regional startup accelerator and entrepreneurial talent program connects 21 regional academic institutions through Startup Milwaukee and the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Innovation in Milwaukee initiative. Nearly every area university and college is participating in the program, which is funded through private donations and corporate sponsorships.

Read the full article here.


The Commons moves offices to Walker’s Point

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
October 27, 2014

The Commons, a nonprofit that helps area students build start-ups and partnerships with industry, said Monday it has leased new offices south of downtown in an area that is becoming a hub for entrepreneurial activity.

The Commons has leased 4,000 square feet of office space at 170 S. 1st St. in the Walker’s Point neighborhood, said Matt Cordio, a co-founder. The group, which formed in August, will hold its first event — a launch weekend — Nov. 7 through Nov. 9 in the new space.

Read the full article here.


Announcing The Commons

The Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Innovation in Milwaukee, or MiKE, initiative, announces The Commons in partnership with Startup Milwaukee and several local academic institutions.

The Commons aims to attract, develop and retain the brightest minds in Southeast Wisconsin through:

  1. Creating a cross-university program that promotes the applied use of entrepreneurial teachings
  2. Providing an opportunity for students to explore innovation in a supportive and low-risk environment
  3. Serving as a source of talent for area businesses looking to work with and hire the city’s emerging thinkers
  4. Playing a pivotal role in economic development and job creation in Southeast Wisconsin

Vocal supporters of The Commons include Dr. John Raymond, president of the Medical College of Wisconsin; Dr. Mary Meehan, president of Alverno College; Barry Mandel, president of The Mandel Group; Michael Lovell, president of Marquette University; and Neil Hoffman, president of MIAD.

Twenty institutions were represented at the initial meeting of The Commons, signaling a strong interest in future collaboration:

  • Alverno College
  • Cardinal Stritch University
  • Carroll University
  • Carthage College
  • Concordia University
  • Gateway Technical College
  • Lakeland College
  • Marquette University
  • Milwaukee Area Technical College
  • Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design
  • Moraine Park Technical College
  • Mount Mary College
  • UW-Milwaukee
  • UW-Parkside
  • UW-Sheboygan
  • UW-Washington County
  • UW-Waukesha
  • Waukesha County Technical College
  • Wisconsin Lutheran College

Check out more about The Commons:

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