UWM remains committed to research, chancellor says

Partnerships key to future Innovation Campus development

UWM
UWM’s Innovation Accelerator in Wauwatosa opened in 2014. The university nearly doubled its research expenditures between the 2003-’04 academic year and 2009-’10.

Chancellor Mark Mone affirmed his commitment to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee being a research institution on Thursday, but he said the future success and development of research will require private partnerships.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone address the Wisconsin Innovation Network meeting on Jan. 14.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone addresses the Wisconsin Innovation Network meeting on Jan. 14.

“What we’re trying to do is signal, very clearly, how we’ve put the pedal down even further on our commitment to research at UWM,” Mone said during a presentation to the Wisconsin Innovation Network meeting at the university’s Innovation Accelerator in Wauwatosa.

He acknowledged there had been some questions of the university’s commitment to doing research, especially following what Mone said were $30 million in budget cuts and a structural deficit.

“We will continue to operate with two key priorities – our research and our student success – front and center. We’ve had to lean out a number of operations; we will continue to have to do that,” he said.

But for research and the development to continue the university is going to have to find partners, Mone said, including on the proposed Integrated Research Center on the Innovation Campus.

“We’ve been told very directly by members of Joint Finance that we would need to have partners that would match the state for that,” Mone said of the $75 million project that would be built at the Wauwatosa campus and increase available lab space by 27 percent.

The building would include research labs for biomechanics, ergonomics, imaging, industrial innovation and rehabilitation. The intent is to bring together engineers, medical informatics, business leaders, health science professionals, nurses, mathematicians, physicists and others in a collaborative research facility.

The project was turned down for state funding in the current budget. Mone said the university is now looking for $30 million to $35 million from partners and has had some preliminary discussions with interested parties

“It’s our hope that we would have those partners that would step up,” he said. “That’s the challenge to this region.”

The university has had partners step up in other areas, including a $10 million gift from Sheldon and Marianne Lubar to create the Lubar Center for Entrepreneurship. The center was announced in July and Mone said Thursday the plan is to break ground in 2017 and the hope is for the building to be operational by late 2018.

The gift and money from the state will cover the construction costs and the university is currently fundraising to establish an endowment to cover operations. Mone said he hopes to have $3 million to $5 million secured by the end of this year.

The building is going to be at the heart of the university’s main campus and will also serve as a welcome center. Even before a shovel goes in the ground, university leaders are pushing ahead with plans for the center’s programing.

“It is absolutely integrated and interdisciplinary across the entire campus,” Mone said.

The programs the university is planning include those that will stretch from freshman year to student startup contests to those helping graduate students and faculty with their research. It will also include partnerships with organizations outside of the university.

The programing is being structured under the Ideas Challenge umbrella, purposefully avoiding the term startup to make students outside the business or technology areas feel more welcome.

Mone said the he sees research and entrepreneurship at UWM as important to the Milwaukee region and the state.

“Try to find an area that’s thriving, that’s strong economically in the world today that doesn’t have a research engine,” he said.

“You also have a state that’s unlike Pennsylvania, that’s unlike Ohio, that’s unlike Texas that’s unlike a number of other states that have three, five or seven cities that drive the state’s economy,” Mone added. “This is the hub and if Milwaukee isn’t strong, the rest of the state isn’t as strong.”

 

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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