UWM launches Business Innovation Incubator

By Anna Lardinois, Startup Storyteller

Milwaukee startup ecosystem veteran Matthew Friedel is the Program Director of UW Milwaukee’s soon-to-be launched startup accelerator, Business Innovation Incubator.

The 11-month program is designed for entrepreneurs who want to take their existing businesses to the next level. Participants will meet Wednesday nights during the fall term for entrepreneurial learning workshops that will focus on subjects ranging from the handling of intellectual property to fundraising. The program’s spring term will be customized to focus on the individual goals of the startups enrolled in the program.

“What makes me really excited about the program is that I have two assets that I can leverage,” Friedel said. “Asset number one is UWM, the second largest university in the state of Wisconsin, and all the resources of a R1 research institution, including expertise in intellectual property, customer discovery, and the I-Corps program.”

“And then the second thing is I get to leverage is my network with Milwaukee Venture Partners (MVP). Last year we did 5 deals for about $1.6 million.”

Friedel is a co-founder of MVP, an angel investor network that has invested in a number of local companies, including COnovate and Blue Line Battery.

Friedel knows what it takes to make a successful funding pitch.

“Having a crisp pitch deck, really understanding how to communicate, and knowing how you’re going to use those funds. All of those things have to align. I see it all the time,” he said. “Sometimes when we see these pitches, if it could just be a little more refined, I think they would probably get over that hurdle … The Lubar School of Business has a crew of amazing, talented faculty members, but I think it’s the fact that I have another foot over in Milwaukee Venture Partners is why I was selected to run this.”

Unlike many university-based programs, the Business Innovation Incubator does not require a connection to the school to be eligible to participate in the program.

“We don’t want to limit it,” he said. “I welcome the great assets we have at UWM, but I want community members, too.”

The new program is inspired by successful accelerator programs used in other universities, particularly the program at Florida State University.

Friedel will host an online information session on the new accelerator on Tuesday, August 2 at 6:00 PM. The session will provide an overview of the program and give attendees the opportunity to ask questions about the accelerator. Registration for this event is still open and can be accessed here.

To learn more about this program, click here. To apply to the Business Innovation Incubator, click here.

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