Innovation

Montel Allen

Milwaukee siblings Que and Khalif El-Amin see themselves as innovators. Yet for them, it’s not enough. They want young Milwaukee kids, who might otherwise be left behind or overlooked, to believe they are innovators who just don’t know it yet.

"When we first get to the school, I think a vast majority them don’t see themselves as innovators, but after our workshops and after they see us, I think that builds their confidence up. It builds their knowledge level up," Khalif says.

Nicole Beilke

In order for companies and communities to thrive these days, they must innovate. A program in Milwaukee nurtures talent among college students with hopes of keeping them here. It’s called The Commons.

On a recent Tuesday night, small groups of students are scattered throughout Ward4, the old Pritzloff warehouse just across the river from the Third Ward.

As you move close to one group, you can hear them talking about developing a product to help people with anxiety.

saintseminole, flickr

Once upon a time, one of the key leaders in innovation in the Milwaukee area was Briggs & Stratton. The Wauwatosa-based manufacturer has been a national leader in building things with small engines, like lawn mowers. But the company ran into problems that many have faced over the last decade.

Michelle Maternowski

Greg Meier's broad experience includes co-founding Global Entrepreneurship Collective as well as Wisconsin's first mentor-driven seed accelerator, 94 Labs. Today, Meier is the Director of the Milwaukee Institute’s Center for Software Engineering. He is also an adjunct faculty member at UW-Milwaukee and Cardinal Stritch University.

Meier has a lot to say about Milwaukee's innovation scene, starting with its history steeped in the economies of scale model.

Rockwell Automation

Generations of Milwaukeeans have appreciated the iconic clock that sits atop Rockwell Automation on the city's south side. It was a gift to the community from one of the original owners of what was the Allen-Bradley Company.

What people may be less familiar with is what has gone on inside the firm that specializes in factory automation. It started 100-some years ago, when Lynde Bradley developed a motor controller into a company that has sold 400,000 discrete products. Today, the company engineers connected systems.

Medical College of Wisconsin

Researchers in Milwaukee have been innovating the way medicine is practiced for decades. After years of being on the leading edge of biomedical discovery, how are those in Milwaukee’s medical field competing now?

Milwaukee Public Library

Milwaukee was ground zero for the industrial boom of the late 19th century. Hundreds of machine shops were operating in the heart of the city; many of their inventions helped grow the companies into worldwide enterprises. Yet today, Wisconsin ranks toward the bottom for entrepreneurship while the business community works to improve the numbers.

“This was kind of the Silicon Valley of the late 1800s," local historian John Gurda says.

Ann-Elise Henzl

There's a buzzword you may hear these days when people talk about ways to grow the economy: innovation, as in the ability to create new products, processes and services.

Innovation is underway in Milwaukee, although it’s not always visible or as robust as in some of the country’s hot spots.

WUWM News reporters and Lake Effect producers are working on the next installment in our Project Milwaukee series. This time, the focus will be innovation.

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 city ranks low in the generation of new ideas and products.

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