Innovation in Milwaukee (MiKE)

Greater Milwaukee Committee

Funding Received: 2011
Milwaukee, WI
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
November 16, 2011

MiKE made a lot of new friends, including entrepreneurs, artists, developers, designers, social media gurus, business owners and corporate executives, at a public event held in the repurposed Grand Avenue Mall in downtown Milwaukee on October 6, 2011.

Why meet at a mall? Because OPEN MiKE, a physical and virtual space for collaboration and rapid prototyping, is housed in converted retail space along with more than a dozen other creative businesses. OPEN MiKE offers 6,800 square feet of open workspace, wifi and network bandwidth for cloud storage and development environments, meet-ups, workshops and networking events and access to peers, mentors and advisors. Members pay a small fee to have access to the lab 24/7, but more importantly, they tap into a growing network of students, professionals and organizations in the design + technology field.

At the public event, participants had the chance to exchange their ideas on the future vision for MiKE.

If you looked around the room, you saw CEOs sitting with students and designers sitting with entrepreneurs. It was a unique opportunity for collaboration that hasn’t existed to this extent in Milwaukee.

The group participated in three exercises aimed at big picture questions like “What would MiKE need to do to be featured on the cover of the New York Times?” and “Why would MiKE win the Nobel Prize for innovation?” If you’re thinking these are unlikely aspirations for Milwaukee, think again! The participants confidently told us that Milwaukee can become a global destination for innovation.

MiKE’s first event was more than a success; new members have joined OPEN MiKE, several corporate leaders have volunteered to mentor and train students, and we’re already getting questions about when MiKE is holding its next event. Stay tuned!

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