M-WERC shoots for U.S. energy independence

Success Stories | Milwaukee 7

Infrastructure improvements have helped downtown Green Bay undergo massive revitalization.

As the global conversation around energy heats up, local activity surrounding the energy industry has erupted, and the Mid-West Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) is at the center. M-WERC, headquartered in Milwaukee, is a multi-state collaboration focused on the growth and economic competitiveness of the growing the energy, power and control industry cluster.

Founded in 2009 by three universities and four industrial companies, M-WERC now has over 30 corporate industry members, partners with eight academic institutions and consults with a number of individual contributors. Together, they aim to “drive the Midwest region and the United States to be energy-independent.”

Seiva Technologies was a member of WERCBench Labs inaugral class.
Seiva Technologies was a member of WERCBench Labs inaugral class.

One of the most visible accomplishments of the group has been the design, development and opening of M-WERC’s headquarters, the Energy Innovation Center (EIC). The building is also tied to a neighborhood development initiative for Milwaukee’s 30th Street industrial corridor.

With its flagship building in place, M-WERC is focused on its goal to serve as a collaborative epicenter and hub of innovation for companies in the energy industry.

Launched last summer, WERCBench Labs is a three-month, immersive, mentorship-based program for technology-focused young companies. Aimed at providing access to technology and market insights beyond what is typically available to startups, the teams of engineers, programmers and scientists admitted benefit from the product development resources the program offers, including high-performance computing, rapid prototyping facilities and small-scale production and testing equipment.

Building on the momentum of WERCBench Labs, M-WERC has formed a new partnership program with leaders from the Young Enterprising Society (YES) and serial entrepreneur Greg Meier to introduce over 500 Milwaukee high school students to the lean startup process. The program is called WercBench JV.

“The concept of JV (or junior varsity) is based on the idea that entrepreneurship isn’t an exclusive club accessible only to a certain age group or social standing,” said Meier. “We’re excited about the opportunity.”

The partnership brings together the relationships and experience of YES – working with students in Milwaukee for the past two years –  with Meier’s track record of success in business startups and attracting funding.

The first class of the program took place at the Northwest Opportunities Vocational Academy (NOVA) High School in December 2015. Plans for the next 14 programs at area high schools are underway.

“The idea behind this effort is to expose students to the types of tools entrepreneurs need to grow a business,” said Meier.

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