Revolution Slider Error: Slider with alias ideas_challenge not found.
Maybe you mean: 'LEC' or 'I-Corps' or 'Catalyst' or 'home' or 'standard-banner' or 'architecture-studio'

Supporting innovation and
entrepreneurship at UWM

The UWM Ideas Challenge Program offers undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff across all disciplines programming that builds on innovative programs that are helping transform the UWM entrepreneurial experience. Ideas Challenge is the name we have given to a collection of innovative design programs and courses designed to bring out the entrepreneur in anyone, regardless of major. This collection of programs and workshops include: Student Startup Challenge, Pop-Ups, Fresh Ideas, Pub Talks, Kellner Entrepreneurship Fellows, University Innovation Fellows, and Community Partnerships with Shorewood School District, School District of New Berlin, and Pathways High. UWM faculty and students are also able to tap into the commercial end of promising research by participating in I-Corps at UWM, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Interdisciplinary and multi-faceted, Ideas Challenge is designed to address the entire process, from conception and design to financing and customer discovery. Ideas Challenge gives you the chance to learn by doing.

Visit the UWM Ideas Challenge website here. 


Student Interactions


Ideas Proposed


Student Startup Teams

Ideas Challenge Team:

Course Offerings: Instructors:
Product Realization Ilya Avdeev & Nathaniel Stern
Performing Communities Anne Basting
Design & Visual Communication Kim Beckmann & Adream Blair
Social Entrepreneurship Fredrik Andersson
Electronics & Sculpture Nathaniel Stern
Gizmos & Gadgets Michelle Silverman
Business & Entrepreneurship Jim Hunter III
Infopreneurship Shana Ponelis
Innovation & Commercialization Brian Thompson

The Student Startup Challenge is a unique co-curricular program that creates an entrepreneurial culture at UWM by encouraging students to develop their ideas, launch businesses, and gain unique skills that come from the entrepreneurial experience. Students are given the opportunity to participate in hands-on workshops and develop ideas through one-on-one mentorship from UWM faculty and staff.

In the Fall of 2016, the Student Startup Challenge program was redesigned to focus on three phases – Explore, Discover, and Experiment. These phases pair student entrepreneurs with existing classes and student teams to create prototypes and business plans to ultimately market ideas – reaching 40 teams. Students and teams that are actively involved in the SSC process are also able to receive funding support from a pool of $25,000 based on funding requests and approval*.

Learn more about Student Startup Challenge here. 

Pop-Ups are collaborative and engaging workshops led by students, faculty, business leaders, and entrepreneurs. Pop-Ups foster community within UWM as well as engage the Milwaukee innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Pop-Ups are a fun and flexible model that reaches students in classes, student organizations and other settings – impacting more students early in their college careers and exposing them to design thinking, creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. In the fall of 2016, the Lubar Entrepreneurship Center organized more than 40 Pop-Up Classes that resulted in more than 1500 student interactions.

Outside of UWM, Pop-Ups have provided an easy way to explore new partnerships.  Last year, Pop-Up Classes were delivered with Shorewood High School, School District of New Berlin, and Pathways High. as they continue to explore and pilot new educational models. Learn more about these partnerships here. 

Learn more about Pop-Ups here.

Pub Talks are one hour intimate talks with a local entrepreneur or community innovator. Students are invited to meet with like minded people to be inspired, ask questions and network. Meetings occur on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays at the UWM Gasthaus (located in the Basement of the UWM Union).

Past Events in 2017
Henry Schwartz – Co-Founder of MobCraft Brewing
Kristin Eitel – Co-Founder/Owner of Belair Cantina
Mark & Margaret Fairbanks – Founders of Islands of Brilliance
Maria Santacaterina – Director of Member Experience at Bright Cellars
Jesse DePinto – Founder of Frontdesk

Learn more about Pub Talks here.

The Fresh Ideas Program was created in 2015 and uses “Pop-Up Classes,” a flexible engaging format to meet students where they are – in their classes, student organizations, after hours, and even on weekends.  The format also engages a variety of instructors – faculty, staff, and students as well as business leaders, successful entrepreneurs, and subject matter experts.  This program helps us support an important principle of entrepreneurship, experimentation. And also plays a strategic role in our marketing efforts.

Check out our 2017 Fresh Ideas Campaign & winner!

Click to enlarge                                       Click to enlarge


The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Innovators Expo is an annual celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship that showcases the newest student, faculty, and staff startups in an exhibit format. UWM student organizations, like CEO and Prototyping Club, as well as students from all schools and majors, are encouraged to participate in the event.

Each participant is given 4 feet of space which is half of an 8 foot table shared by another participant. Participants are given complete freedom in designing their showcase. Prototypes, takeaways, and swag are strongly encouraged. The purpose of this event is to showcase the participants and their journey.

Learn more about UWM’s Innovators Expo here.


The Lubar Entrepreneurship Center is anchored by Ideas Challenge Programming that supports education and entrepreneurship. This programming builds on the long-standing strength of the Lubar School of Business as well as new innovative programs that are helping transform the UWM entrepreneurial experience. This broad-based approach helps bring UWM discoveries to market and create new enterprises that strengthen our economy.  But the goals of these efforts go beyond new startup companies.  These programs provide UWM graduates with important skills – whether they go on to work for established companies in the Milwaukee region or start their own companies.  In addition, UWM faculty will benefit from new ways of identifying opportunities and promising research directions.