Six area companies launch MKE Tech Hub Coalition with $5 million

Aiming to double local tech workforce by 2025

Downtown Milwaukee skyline
Downtown Milwaukee skyline. Photo by Shutterstock

Last updated on October 7th, 2019 at 01:17 pm

Six leading companies in southeastern Wisconsin are seeking to bolster Milwaukee’s technology ecosystem by contributing a total of $5 million to form the MKE Tech Hub Coalition.

Accenture, Advocate Aurora Health, Johnson Controls, Kohl’s, Northwestern Mutual and Rockwell Automation on Friday announced the launch of the nonprofit initiative, which will serve as an accelerator for Milwaukee’s tech community by “supporting programs, organizations and initiatives that advance technology and innovation in the region.”

Northwestern Mutual and Advocate Aurora Health have been working together in recent years on a more informal effort known as the Tech Hub with the goal of improving Milwaukee’s pipeline of tech talent.

BizTimes reported in March that the companies planned to create a new standalone tech-focused organization.

The MKE Tech Hub coalition was officially announced during a main stage event at Fall Experiment, a two-day tech, art, gaming and music festival taking place at the Wisconsin Center.

With a goal of doubling the local tech workforce by 2025, the coalition’s founding companies rolled out their main objectives:

  • Increasing the number of tech startups in the region,
  • Expanding the number of tech companies that relocate to or grow in Milwaukee,
  • Cultivating a dynamic vision and image for the region that attracts tech workers and
  • Creating resources and an environment that supports freelancers, 

“We’re proud to take part in this cross-industry collaboration to advance the work that’s been done to date to transform Milwaukee into a tech hub,” said John Schlifske, chairman, president and CEO of Northwestern Mutual. “Increasing tech talent in Milwaukee is critical for our region to remain vibrant and compete on a national scale.”

In 2017, Northwestern Mutual and Advocate Aurora simultaneously launched $5 million venture capital funds, Cream City Venture Capital and InvestMKE, which are investing solely in Milwaukee startup companies. Advocate Aurora also joined Northwestern Mutual in organizing the second iteration of its Tech Hub Summit in 2018.

“Our investment in this coalition underscores our commitment to the innovation and transformation foundational to a strong technology economy and critical to the future of health care delivery,” Advocate Aurora Health President and CEO Jim Skogsbergh said. “We’re proud to collaborate with other Milwaukee leaders as part of our unwavering commitment to help the people of southeastern Wisconsin live well.”

The coalition’s appointed board members and CEO will be announced at a later date.

The organization is also working to enlist new members while involving the local business community, academic institutions, local and state governments, organizations and individuals who are interested in supporting tech initiatives.

A recent BizTimes Milwaukee cover story, “Clicking with Milwaukee,” explores the challenges of building the region of Milwaukee’s tech talent and ongoing efforts to address those issues.

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer started as an intern reporter at BizTimes in summer 2015. She currently covers entertainment, sports, tourism and restaurants. In May 2017, she graduated with a journalism degree from Marquette University where she worked as an in-depth projects reporter for the Marquette Wire and Marquette Tribune.