A great university does more than just teach the fundamentals of math, science and English. A great university fosters innovation and research. This is what the UWM innovation campus is trying to achieve in the field of bio-medical research.
The UWM innovation campus is a 72-acre space located in Wauwatosa that has one UWM building currently finished with plans to expand in the coming years. The first building, the Innovation Accelerator Building, is 25,000 square feet with research labs that work in rehabilitation, prototyping and app development among other things. The campus also currently houses a few corporate buildings not directly affiliated with UWM.
The process of building the campus has been long and difficult. The idea was first thought of in 2004 but ran into many hurdles such as county approvals and environmental concerns in the area.
The main goal of the campus is to further translational research, or “connecting university research with industry problems,” as graduate research student Alex Francis describes it.
The campus is currently partnering with the Medical College of Wisconsin, Froedert Hospital and Children’s Hospital among others to further research and development in the bio-medical field.
The partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin is one that David Gilbert, President of the UWM, thinks is a perfect match. “You have a full service research institution with no medical school and a medical school with no research institution,” he said, “Aha! Do you like peanut butter? Do you like chocolate? Let’s make a Reese’s’ Peanut Butter Cup.”
The UWM Foundation does not seek to have UWM as the exclusive university involved. They are in talks with other schools in the area such as Marquette, Carroll, Cardinal Stritch and Mt. Mary. “We welcome our sister institutions to bring their expertise and investments to help our region grow and be prosperous,” says Gilbert.
A primary goal of the campus is to house startups in the future. “The hope is that eventually there would be flexible turnaround space for new companies,” says Brian Thompson, President of the UWM Research Foundation. “We don’t yet have that quick turnaround accelerator space, but the hope is that eventually we build those sort of things.”
Thompson sees the innovation campus as something that benefits every student and faculty member at UWM. “First and foremost education is what we do,” said Thompson. “I think that conducting cutting edge research allows UWM to offer the best educational experience overall for its students. Not only for the graduate students to get involved in education but for the faculty who are research intensive to be on the cutting edge of their field and enrich the experience for even the undergraduates.”
An area also important to the innovation campus is the ‘App Brewery,’ which works to build apps for local non-profit companies. They are currently developing six apps for the Medical College of Wisconsin, one of which will allow clinicians to more readily access a database to identify specific research trials that are best for patients.
A major concern for the innovation campus is the distance from the main UWM campus. There are shuttles that will go from the main UWM campus to the innovation campus that will be expanded as needed.
The future goals of the innovation campus are to go global with the ideas and research being done there. “The future is a place where our students and our faculty are able to achieve things that are globally significant,” says Gilbert. “You will hear of Milwaukee’s technologies being used in China, in Africa and all over the world, because we really have a lot of academic prowess here, and a lot of industry.”