WCCR offers a ‘front door’ for budding state entrepreneurs


Five area universities have been awarded a federal grant to form a statewide University Center that will stimulate commercialization and startups, and support entrepreneurs with a clearinghouse of resources that aid economic growth.

UW-Milwaukee, Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering, UW-Parkside and UW-Whitewater are officially launching the Wisconsin Center for Commercialization Resources (WCCR) with funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) through its University Centers (UC) program.

Photo of WCCR Director Carmel Ruffolo

WCCR Director Carmel Ruffolo

The announcement was made Tuesday, Nov. 27, at 10 a.m. in the second-floor Wisconsin Room of the UW-Milwaukee Union. In addition, the event will feature 10 early-stage entrepreneurs – including students, alumni and private citizens – who have used a university service to help them get started. Each will showcase prototypes of their products.

The WCCR grant was the largest in the Midwest and, with matching funds from the five partners, the grant totals more than $2 million. Unique in its collaborative format, the WCCR offers services to support commercialization of products and technology.

“Because of the WCCR’s collective efforts, we are able to harness the assets of the five major universities in Southeastern Wisconsin to provide a variety of services to faculty, staff, students, entrepreneurs, and first- and second-stage businesses in the state,” says Director Carmel Ruffolo. “The WCCR can help individuals and groups go from an idea to pre-manufacturing.”

Individually, each university offers a range of services to support entrepreneurs. Examples include the Kohler Center for Entrepreneurship at Marquette, the Rapid Prototyping Center at MSOE, the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) at UW-Whitewater, the Student Startup Challenge at UW-Milwaukee, and Small Business Development Centers at UW-Milwaukee, UW-Whitewater and UW-Parkside.

To gauge the needs of entrepreneurs, the WCCR begins with a survey that visitors to the Web portal fill out at www.wi-wccr.org. This tells service providers where in the process each entrepreneur’s intervention needs to begin.

Adding to the complement of services are the WCCR nonacademic partners, BizStarts Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Water Council, Wisconsin Energy Research Consortium (WERC), the Milwaukee 7 and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI).