MILWAUKEE_The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee celebrates the grand opening of its Lubar Entrepreneurship Center and Welcome Center on Wednesday, May 8, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Remarks by UWM Chancellor Mark E. Mone, LEC Director Brian Thompson and members of the Lubar family begin at 5:15 p.m., after which a four-foot-high lightbulb sculpture will be lit.
The two-story campus facility, at the corner of Kenwood Boulevard and Maryland Avenue, serves as both UWM’s public “front door” and a new address for transforming the region’s economy.
Guests can tour classrooms, gathering spots for speakers and “innovation labs,” where students prototype products and software.
Also going on in the building during the grand opening is the UWM Innovators Expo, which showcases accomplishments by student entrepreneurs and innovators, student organizations and partnered affiliates during the past year.
Festivities will end at 7:55 p.m. when the entire occupancy of the building will join in tossing a fleet of paper airplanes into the air.
Funding for the building was launched with a $10 million donation from Lubar & Co. founder Sheldon Lubar and his wife, Marianne, in 2015. Since then, the UW System has contributed $10 million, and additional gifts have come from the Kelben Foundation, established by Mary and Ted Kellner; from Milwaukee entrepreneur Jerry Jendusa; UWM alum Avi Shaked and wife Babs Waldman; We Energies; and American Family Insurance.
The building itself is the most recent addition to an entrepreneurial ecosystem that started at UWM a little more than five years ago. Since then, 6,500 students have participated in at least one of the programs offered through the LEC. There are 24 interdisciplinary course offerings in addition to business curricula, and 95 teams from the area’s six universities that have taken I-Corps training, administered through UWM. Funded by the National Science Foundation, I-Corps teaches academics and graduate students to commercialize discoveries they make while conducting research. Nineteen companies have formed among I-Corps participants in the last three years.