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Whitewater University Innovation Center is a Technology Incubator

The Whitewater University Innovation Center has opened with an official ceremony, lots of speakers, excitement, and anticipation.  Some people are asking “now what?”  What are the next steps in the process?  Where do we go from here?  How does the technology incubator make a difference in Whitewater?

This 38,000 square foot facility is approximately 60% occupied, with most of that space being filled by CESA #2 (Cooperative Educational Service Agency) who is connected to 74 school districts.  CESA #2 wanted to be more closely linked to the University (UWW) to leverage collaboration between CESA #2 and the College of Education. This closer proximity also provides a connection for other learning opportunities.

Many of the CESA #2 school districts have active PLTW (Project Lead The Way) chapters where middle and high school students are exposed to “invention” and the invention process.  PLTW encourages young, creative minds to develop solutions to challenges facing society. Under the direction of an instructor, the students follow a defined process to create new functional products.  Some of these ideas may result in business ventures and the UWW Entrepreneurship program will provide assistance here.

Whitewater University Innovation Center - Picture taken by UWW Marketing and Media Relations

The Innovation Center building was designed to be an energy efficient facility incorporating a geothermal heat/cool system utilizing 60 wells sunk 275 deep where water is recirculated to provide a thermal exchange and maintain the building’s temperature within the comfort zone.  Additionally, 104 photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof will be able to generate as much as 30kw (kilowatts) of electricity to offset the electrical requirements of the facility.  A software program (Fat Spaniel) will allow tracking of energy generation and energy consumption for the building.

Science classes in the 74 CESA #2 school districts will be able to compete against each other to see which class can most accurately predict energy generation and energy consumption within the Innovation Center.  The “meteorology program” at UWW will be able to provide weather forecast data to science classes to enable a more accurate calculation.

The Innovation Center incorporates an “i-Hub” where new ideas can be moved to the “Launchpad” for university persons (faculty, staff, and students).  The “i-Hub” provides assistance in two areas.  One is “i-Mentors” where faculty/staff can provide direction to would-be entrepreneurs and the second area of assistance is “i-Fellows” where faculty/staff can apply for funds to help launch their idea within the confines of the Innovation Center.  As ideas are spawned and gain traction, opportunities for student talent will emerge and provide employment beyond graduation dates.

First floor suites within the Innovation Center are being transformed into “wet lab” space for UW biology programs.  This area will allow research to be advanced in a number of areas and again provide UWW students to be actively involved in cutting edge science that may change lives, improve the environment and result in job creation.

There are a number of innovative companies within a 20 minute radius of Whitewater that are involved in science-based product development.  Several companies focus on animal feed and genetic improvements, another is advancing a variety of medical devices, and there is a company leading the development of a new treatment for hepatitis-B.  These enterprises are clear examples of the type businesses we hope to incubate from the Innovation Center.

The Whitewater University Innovation Center will foster creativity in a number of disciplines. Business ventures will be conceived and launched within its walls.  Student interns in a variety of programs will be offered opportunities to apply their talents to new endeavors.  Marketing students will be able to develop plans for new ventures, accounting students can connect with start-ups, IT students will be needed to develop web sites, create firewalls, and optimize company operations.  Students from the HR focus will be needed to assist with hiring and training employees.  OSHA guidelines can be employed to insure compliance for a variety of tenants.  Management, entrepreneurship, and economics majors can provide assistance to new enterprises and expand their knowledge in real business settings.

The Innovation Center will allow student talent to remain in Whitewater following graduation.  As new buildings are constructed within the 130+ acre Technology Park, Whitewater will become a regional technology player for the future.

Article written by Bud Gayhart and edited by Austin Durham.

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10 Responses to Whitewater University Innovation Center is a Technology Incubator

  1. Mehul Kar says:

    I’m part of the LaunchPad program and I’ve gotten a tour of the building. The facilities are amazing and I’m extremely excited to be a part of the program. Dr. Dougan, Dr. Vanevenhoven and the Office of Research & Sponsored Programs are doing a great job of promoting entrepreneurship in Whitewater.

  2. CoBE Report says:

    Thanks for the comment Mehul! What does someone need to do in order to get a tour of the building?

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