M-WERC adds leaders to Energy Innovation Center, opens startup space

As the Mid-West Energy Research Consortium continues to build out its 65,000 square feet of space in the Century City Tower, formerly the Eaton Corp. research building, the organization is also building out its leadership team with the addition of Greg Meier and Nick Wichert.

Meier and Wichert both head the Milwaukee-based Global Entrepreneurship Collective, which belongs to the Global Accelerator Network. The collective mans two accelerators, Revolution Labs and Victory Spark, as well as the first seed accelerator in Wisconsin, 94 Labs, and a host of startup ventures.

As part of the Energy Innovation Center, Meier and Wichert will guide the center’s incubator and accelerator programming.

Alan Perlstein, M-WERC executive director and chief executive officer, describes Meier and Wichert as “thought leaders” in the startup space.

Meier and Wichert, who both have storied careers in Milwaukee’s startup scene, are experienced in business model development, working with early stage companies to figure out who their customers are, what value they’re providing, how they will generate revenue and how to prepare for investment and production.

“We’re the very initial piece for very early stage companies coming into this building,” Wichert said.

Trying to revitalize the community of startups focused on energy, power and control was part of what interested Wichert in joining the center.

“A lot of people look at energy and they think solar and water, but on a grand scale I think what this facility is offering is a much bigger global look at some of the larger problems we face from an energy perspective, control system and power perspective, that I don’t think people are really looking at yet today,” Wichert said. “And that’s what’s really exciting – that people here are. So we’re going to come in and provide our value on building innovation centers, accelerators, how to build that community around it.”

Along with announcing the addition of its two new leaders on Thursday, M-WERC unveiled 8,000 square feet of working space for startup tenants and office space for business service providers on the center’s seventh floor. Members of the public invited to a holiday networking event held on the newly renovated floor on Thursday were welcome to tour the space.

The seventh floor, still a work in progress, holds room for nine business startups in what the Energy Innovation Center’s director, Jeff Anthony, describes as a “collaborative” and “open” setting. Once complete, the floor will be outfitted with a series of work stations to house individual startup organizations. Bordering the workspaces along outer edges of the floor are office spaces for business service providers, which will include marketing professionals, legal experts, engineers and mentors. Providers will be announced in January, according to Anthony.

Renovation of the seventh floor falls under phase one of construction, which is expected to be complete by fall with attention to the second and third floors of the building as well.

Phase two of construction is slated to run from next September through October 2016, when M-WERC aims to have the center up and running with full occupation.

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