UWGB students work on real corporate innovation challenges for WEC Energy Group & West Bend Insurance

Four UWGB students helped pitch their teams’ ideas at Demo Day in Milwaukee as part of The Commons fall 2018 cohort. Students applied to the program then spent a weekend plus nine Tuesday nights in Milwaukee working on either a real corporate innovation challenge or on a startup in order to accelerate their entrepreneurial skills. Students are placed on teams via their project preferences but are matched with other Eastern Wisconsin college students.

The Commons fall 2018 all UWGB student participants Leigh, Kroll, Ali, Van Remortel in order from left

Senior Laura Van Remortel (Business Administration, Music minor) worked on a team for startup Green Earth Terrarium (http://getterrarium.com). Milwaukee county social entrepreneur Cole Compton founded the company when he was 14. Now a college student, Compton designates 15% of proceeds from the high quality, lower cost terrariums to non-profit organizations that are dedicated to community, collaboration, and positive change. The team focused on better identifying Green Earth Terrarium’s ideal customers.

Senior Zeeshan Ali (Accounting) and freshman Ryan Kroll (Business Administration) worked on corporate innovation project “Silver Lining” for West Bend Insurance. The team created a an app to help potential West Bend insurance customers understand different types of coverages, connecting them to a West Bend Insurance agent for help if needed.

The Commons fall 2018 West Bend Insurance Silver Lining Team presenting 2 - Ali far right & Kroll third from right

Freshman Amanda Leigh (Accounting, Business Administration minor) worked on corporate innovation project “We Power the Future” for WEC Energy Group to help them identify how to communicate with job seekers the variety of career tracks available at We Energies. Amanda lead off her team’s pitch at Demo Day.

The Commons fall 2018 We Energies We Power the Future Team presenting 2 - Leigh far left

Other projects presented at Demo Day for The Common fall 2018 cohort included corporate innovation challenges from Kohl’s, MMSD (Metro Milwaukee Sewer District), and Sartori (focusing on Sheboygan County’s workforce development) as well as startups solving the problems of dangerous open air coal-fueled cooking in Uganda, goal-setting with accountability and community, keeping up your proficiency in American Sign Language, and video-based (as opposed to text-based) work productivity (think: a better Slack).

Past UWGB students who participated in The Commons programs have included majors in Computer Science, Psychology, and Engineering. However, The Commons does not ask students for their major or minor courses of study nor GPA in the application process.

UWGB students on all campuses can apply to the spring 2019 cohort of The Commons at www.thecommonswi.com/accelerator. Students who are accepted to the program and want to earn credit for the program should contact me (KauthR@uwgb.edu) for more details.

Companies who would like to join other companies leading innovation in Northeast Wisconsin – such as Acuity, Ansay, Aurora Health Care, Direct Supply, Feeding America, Godfrey & Kahn, Graef, Kohler, Kohl’s, Northwestern Mutual, Sargento, Sartori, and WEC Energy Group – by partnering with The Commons to sponsor a team of college students to work on one of their corporate innovation challenges can contact me or contact Joe@TheCommonsWI.com to schedule an appointment with The Commons and the company’s leadership team.

Photos courtesy of The Commons by Robert Colletta Photography.

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