Hostad Wants to Raise MiKE Initiative’s Profile, Impact on Milwaukee

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something you’d like to better define?

MH: Part of my job is to take sort of a strategic look at what MiKE is and where it can have the most impact. I think working for an engineer [like Lovell], you learn that everything you do has to have metrics and has to be measurable. That is a huge piece of what I want to do with MiKE going forward. I want us to be purposeful with everything we do and be able to measure the impact and the value that we’re providing.

Maybe something hits the mark, and maybe it doesn’t, but that allows us to adjust where we need to be in terms of the ecosystem in Milwaukee.

My goal is when I tell people that I work for MiKE that they know what that is. I think that’s a big piece.

I’m certainly not critical about where MiKE is now, but I can see where the questions come in. I think part of that is a communication piece. First, it’s figuring out what we want to be. Then, it’s performing, doing, following through on things we say we’re going to do, and being able to report on how we did on those things.

X: Where do you see MiKE fitting into the big picture of Milwaukee’s innovation and startup scene?

MH: At UWM, in a lot of ways I had to be Switzerland in a lot of the conversations. For us, it was about providing opportunities for our students and supporting the economic growth of the region. In chancellor Lovell’s vision, that was what the university was there to do. We didn’t really align with one group or another. We were there to support all groups. That’s sort of the approach I’d like to see MiKE take…sort of work as the intermediary and the connector.

X: When you talk about connecting corporations with talent, what’s an example of a meaningful outcome?

MH: Some of those meaningful outcomes would be that there’s this whole idea of the project economy and project-based work. We’ve got a lot of corporations who have a tremendous need for talented people, but can’t increase their headcount. Could it be that Milwaukee becomes sort of a potential hub for this so-called project economy, where corporations can have a pool of people that they can pull from for certain projects? Maybe college interns, maybe people who like to freelance.

And I’d love for these startups to connect with these corporations and innovate in a manner that would benefit those corporations, and dealing with those issues like intellectual property. We know that’s a whole sticky ball of wax that can come up.

But if you’ve got a couple key corporations that are willing to go down that road with some startups, we could set a model for how this could work.

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Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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