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Some leaders believe "thinking outside of the box" is an important tool for economic growth that helps to create new products, processes and services. While Milwaukee's history is steeped in innovation, today the state ranks low in the generation of new ideas and products.Project Milwaukee: Innovation - How Do We Compete? examines the status of innovation here, its value and the factors that are laying the groundwork for the city's future success. We'll talk with entrepreneurs, investors, educators and others about Milwaukee's assets and challenges. And, we'll learn about some of the big ideas coming out of Milwaukee.

Project Milwaukee: Creating a Tech-Friendly Ecosystem


Local colleges and universitiesare key players in developing the talent start-up and existing businesses are looking for. Still, the region has some way to go before all of the top talent is homegrown.

Consider the case of Brookfield’s Paragon Development Systems, or PDS. The growing IT company is working on collaborations with local campuses, but most recently has forged a partnership with MIT to develop new technologies for the healthcare industry.

Dr. Asif Naseem is the president and CEO of PDS. He believes there are a couple main issues that are keeping Wisconsin from expanding its tech industry. One is simply attracting people to the area with a vision and mission for the future of Wisconsin companies.

“I spent over 10 years in Silicon Valley and what they offer there is an ecosystem, a community that attracts like-minded, smart people; mentoring capabilities and opportunities, and perhaps most importantly venture capital that’s available there,” he says. “I think in Wisconsin, we have an opportunity to create that kind of ecosystem and I and PDS, we hope that we’ll actually in some small way contribute to that.”

The second issue is changing how information technology is viewed by large corporations in our region, which tend to downplay the importance of IT.

“The needs of the modern enterprise are very complex and broad and becoming more so. The workforce is geographically distributed and more often globally. The products are complex and becoming more so. Customer expectations of functionality and response time are ever-increasing,” says Naseem. “So I contend that information technology is the only way to put networks in place in those kinds of corporations to adopt to the complexity of the operations they’re running.”

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