Sunday, January 29, 2012

A great new direction. University of Wisconsin Chancellor Ward's Educational Innovation (EI) venture.

This is very cool. University of Wisconsin Chancellor David Ward just released a comprehensive plan for better integrating the UW's rich knowledge base into economic development opportunities among other worthy goals.

It is a campus wide initiative that is intended to last for years. It's an approach for dealing with budgets, funding, and creating new opportunities on a sustainable basis.

"EI is intended to be campuswide -- within and across programs, departments, colleges and centers -- and will be supported by new and streamlined policies and practices. EI cannot, and should not, be an initiative primarily funded centrally, as new funding must be derived from reallocations or new program revenues. New revenues and savings derived from innovations will flow back to the units creating them. Overall, these changes may encourage and leverage significant external support, and changes of this kind may be the only strategy to argue for future increments in state support and more flexible need-based tuition policies."

The photo above has deep UW Madison innovation cred. This industrial fluid recycling system derived from several of our patents. I was able to test our system in the University of Wisconsin's chemical engineering lab. Thanks to valuable, informal help from the UW ChemE engineering faculty (thank you, Juan!) and information their students provided through tests that I could never have run myself - this innovation received the Wisconsin Governor's New Product of the Year award in 2004 (Best of State), and the United States Small Business New Product of the Year Award from the National Society of Professional Engineers in 2005.

We not only built our business around this kind of support, we manufactured much of what we did right in Dane County, home of the UW Madison. We exported these systems across the United States and to great customers on 5 continents.

Not every UW initiative will flourish, but the process of engaging the business and entrepreneurship community will create the kind of partnerships that will generate jobs, growth, and revenue for the community and for the UW System.

Our University of Wisconsin rocks. Chancellor Ward is steering our wonderful, globally relevant, vibrant community institution into turbulent tides. Great ideas and directions. Thank you!

Educational Innovation: An invitation to participate. UW Chancellor Ward's call to action. Jan. 27, 2012.

Good recent article about Chancellor Ward's call for the University of Wisconsin to become more entrepreneurial

UW research budget via Wikipedia: In 2010, the University of Wisconsin had research expenditures of more than 1 billion dollars.

Friday, January 27, 2012

"What's an Entrepreneur?"

"Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled."

Eric Schurenberg, the Editor at Inc. has a great piece this month titled "What's an Entrepreneur? The Best Answer Ever."

This quote above was originally written by Harvard Business School Professor Howard Stevenson almost 40 years ago.

From this article (linked below/emphasis added):

"Every time you want to make any important decision, there are two possible courses of action. You can look at the array of choices that present themselves, pick the best available option and try to make it fit. Or, you can do what the true entrepreneur does: Figure out the best conceivable option and then make it available."

This is the renaissance age of entrepreneurship.

While bringing this great quote back to life, Eric Schurenberg tossed in a great one of his own. Maybe even better than the one he cites.

"Opportunity is the only real resource you have."

Inc. - What's an Entrepreneur? The Best Answer Ever by Eric Schurenberg, Jan. 9, 2012

I got this story via the fearless leadership team at Vernon County, Wisconsin Economic Development

Photo is from the amazing plant kaleidoscope at our Olbrich Gardens in Madison.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Chicago Farmers Farmland Investment Fair - Feb. 4th

I'm looking forward to making an Innovation Kitchen presentation at this year's Chicago Farmers Farmland Investment Fair, Saturday Feb. 4 in the Joliet, IL area.

From The Chicago Farmers web site: "The purpose of The Chicago Farmers is to provide a forum for education and the exchange of information between its members and others allied to agribusiness. This is carried out with a number of member directed activities scheduled throughout the year which provide members a means to enhance knowledge, profitability, stewardship, consumer awareness, and fellowship."

The Innovation Kitchen model for value added food processing presents many opportunities for increasing the productivity and value of farm land. I'm looking forward to sharing this story with new friends at The Chicago Farmers Farmland Investment Fair. Join us!

Registration for The Chicago Farmers Farmland Fair, Feb. 4. Links to conference agenda.

The Chicago Farmers home page.

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Food is more than what we eat

You're not supposed to play favorites with co-workers.

I get to work with many, many wonderful friends at the Hodan Center's Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen in Iowa County, WI. This is pals-for-life stuff. What a great blessing.

Yet among all these great friends, it's likely all of us would put Norma in the front of the photo.

Our dear friend Norma has been employed and supported by the Hodan Center since its opening in 1972.

Norma is pictured here cutting the ribbon at the Grand Opening of the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen in 2010.

The other image of Norma in her pearls is from the Innovation Kitchen's employee appreciation party this week.

The customers and partners of the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen made this possible. They helped make great jobs for Norma, Adam, Margaret, Mitch, Julie and all of the team. This facility is beginning to flourish thanks to you.

What a success story for local foods and economic development. Good foods can be created and produced safely, for commercial scale by a certified, professional food processing staff in a state licensed facility. Our team is led by the Hodan Center's Food Service Director and Mistress of the Universe Annette Pierce. Under her guidance, Norma and all our friends can play valuable roles in the food chain.

There are so many great opportunities available in this model. We're working to replicate it.

The job creating stories Norma and friends can share with exciting new urban partners like the Milwaukee veterans organizations (and vice versa) seem limitless.

This is a great story about a wonderful new experiment in community based local food processing.

Food is more than what we eat.

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Hodan Center

Iowa County Area Economic Development

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Thank you Center for Veterans Issues in Milwaukee!

A group of us working on food collaborations met at the Center for Veterans Issues a couple days before Christmas to look for ways to work together.

We met again Friday and started taking some action steps. Nothing definitive. The idea is to launch a few experiments and learn together. This is a really good idea that deserves to move forward.

Here is how my pal Godsil wrote it up on his Facebook page: "Looking to connect with veterans who either "own recipes" or can partner with chefs to create new food lines for local and regional markets, e.g. Madison Milwaukee Chicago, "from the ground up businesses," with Innovation Kitchens and the Center for Veterans Issues poised to provide kitchen and business support resources."

One of the veterans at our meeting has a great recipe from the Harambee neighborhood in Milwaukee that I want to do. We'll just have a few spots to experiment with initially but we'll start a process to expand the system and bring in more veteran partners through the year.

Here is a good overview of the work of the Center for Veterans Issues from their new CVI Facebook page:

"Center for Veterans Issues is recognized nationally for innovative housing solutions coupled with supportive services as well as for its economic development and job training programs. On any given night, CVI feeds, houses and provide reintegration services (including vocational training and employment placement) to almost 300 homeless veterans. In the past 20 years, Center for Veterans Issues has been contacted more than 140,000 times. Of these contacts, 46,959 service connections with homeless and low-income veterans have been made. Center for Veterans Issues has had some measure of success with almost 85% of these veterans. Success is achieved when a veteran has a source of income, physical, mental and spiritual health and a place of their own to live."

I am very excited to be starting a collaboration with all my new friends in Milwaukee but especially those good folks serving our veterans in need. The photo above is of the beautiful community room at CVI's Veterans Manor at 35th and Wisconsin Avenue in Milwaukee. Their Troop Cafe will be open to the public this coming April. What a great place for a partnership with the Innovation Kitchen model to flourish.

I look forward to sharing these new experiments in food and economic development. Congratulations Center for Veterans Issues for all your great work!

Center for Veterans Issues

New Veterans Complex Also Features Kitchen To Serve Community. Story at Milwaukee's

CVI Executive Vice President Dawn Nuoffer recognized as one of Milwaukee area's 'Forty under 40' by the Business Journal. Congratulations Dawn!

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Iowa County Area Economic Development Corp. Leading new rural / urban partnerships in Wisconsin.

Photo credit of CVI's community room (above) to - -Thank you

Friday, January 13, 2012

Next Innovation Kitchen presentation Feb. 3. USDA / Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

My next Innovation Kitchen presentation is February 3 in Chicago.

This is from the conference information sheet:

The Many Faces of Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, hosted by USDA’s Illinois Rural Development & Food & Nutrition Service Midwest Region, offers organizations, state and federal agencies, institutions and others involved with agriculture an opportunity to learn about successful models, resources, strategies and opportunities for supporting, cultivating and growing local/regional food systems in the Midwest, including learning about available support from USDA agencies.

Please join USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and local, state and federal government, business, and not for profit organizations from 12 states in America’s heartland to learn about successful models and opportunities in the local food system arena.


This looks like a great conference. I'm looking forward to catching up with old friends and making new ones!

Registration page for event at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Registration is required. This link also connects to conference agenda.

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Harvard Business Review - 97% of marketing executives believe corporate social responsibility programs (CSRs) to be a valid business strategy.

"Cause-marketing programs will multiply. These programs are created when a for-profit and nonprofit partner to drive revenues, exposure, and fundraising dollars to the non-profit's cause.

Why will these programs continue to appeal to corporations this year? Cause-marketing provides businesses with legitimacy, along with a partner that has issue expertise. If done authentically, such programs can enhance a firm's reputation in the eyes of stakeholders, leading to public good, the viral sharing of information and potentially increased revenues. Marketing experts agree. According to a PRWeek/Barkely PR Cause Survey in 2010, two-thirds of brands now engage in cause marketing, up from 58% in 2009. The same survey found that 97% of marketing executives believe this to be a valid business strategy."

The Innovation Kitchen model is forming strategic partnerships that can create jobs for people that need help from all of us, including support from CSRs. Welcome!

Harvard Business Review blog 'Why CSR's Future Matters to Your Company', by Susan McPherson

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Visions of post-industrial Milwaukee" - featuring Sweet Water Organics. just posted: "Visions of post-industrial Milwaukee. Goodbye, 'abandonment porn.' A Milwaukee exhibition celebrates efforts to renovate and revitalize industrial space."

I have been working with a great new friend in Milwaukee, where his pals all know him as Godsil.

Godsil's work, especially at Sweet Water Organics, is integral to Milwaukee's renaissance as this new piece in (linked below) documents nicely.

Salon shines a well deserved spotlight on the Milwaukee's leadership in utilizing food enterprises for job creation in post industrial cities.

Salon: "Michael told me in an email that he thinks Milwaukee is at the “cutting edge of a potential redefinition of [work and labor] in the 21st century.” Why do you think that is? Other cities — like Detroit — tend to get a lot of media play; is Milwaukee under-recognized in this sense, do you think?

"MC: I think it is. That’s not to say that what’s happening in Detroit isn’t exciting, or shouldn’t be covered. But I think Milwaukee is particularly interesting when it comes to one of the topics often addressed in stories about Detroit and other cities: urban agriculture. Here in Milwaukee, we’ve had Growing Power since 1993; on the heels of the recession of the early ’90s, you have a man called Will Allen taking over a derelict property, and turning it into a viable urban farm that’s now been in existence for close to 20 years. You also have people like James Godsil at Sweet Water Organics, who have brought what Will Allen was doing to the next level in terms of technology (Sweet Water uses “aquaponics,” a system wherein plants and fish are raised symbiotically)."

"I think Sweet Water’s example is particularly useful for two reasons. It represents not only the reclamation of a building itself — they’re in an old Harneschfeger factory building on the south side of the city, and they definitely see the [cultural] value of keeping the building around — but also the idea of bringing productive work back to that building."

"...bringing productive work back"... Thank you Milwaukee. Thank you for your leadership in urban agriculture and new designs for working in liveable cities!

Full article at Photo credit: David Schalliol, from this linked article.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Thank you VETransfer!

There is a really great veterans entrepreneurship organization in Wisconsin called VETransfer.

They've created an 'innovation accelerator' to help train and launch veterans into new careers as entrepreneurs. I'm convinced their work has significant national implications. They are developing great models to support our current and returning veterans who want to start their own businesses.

The Wall Street Journal recently featured VETransfer in an article titled Military Veterans Prepare for a New Role

VETransfer Executive Director Ted Lasser was with us at the first meeting of our veterans initiative, a couple weeks ago in Milwaukee.

I got a chance to visit the VETransfer offices in Downtown Milwaukee last week to meet with Ted and Director Greg Meier.

What a great operation. Any Wisconsin area veteran interested in exploring entrepreneurship or growing their business, should know all about VETransfer.

Entrepreneurship is emerging as a vital option for many people as their circumstances change. This is especially true for our veterans who face changes and challenges most of us can't imagine.

Time magazine just posted an article titled, 2012. The Year of the Entrepreneur? It starts out saying "2012 looks to be the year of the entrepreneur."

And closes with, "That is why, even though the new year has just begun, the “Entrepreneur” gets my vote for TIME’s 2012 Person of the Year. I can only hope that you will be featured on the magazine’s cover before the year ends."

I believe the Innovation Kitchen model could be a great at creating many new entrepreneurship opportunities for veterans in 2012 and beyond.

VETransfer is an amazing place. I'm inspired by all the entrepreneurship opportunities this model represents nationwide. Keep up the great work!

VETransfer. Accelerating Veteran Owned Innovations.

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Saturday, January 07, 2012

TIME: Why 2012 will be the Year of the Entrepreneur

Time Magazine/Moneyland posted this piece to start off 2012.

I especially like the phrase 'collective entrepreneurial activity'. This is the strategy we're developing for the Innovation Kitchen right now.

"Much like the protesters of 2011, collective entrepreneurial action in 2012 has the real power to change the world. While individual success is certainly not easy to obtain or guaranteed by any means, educating the global population about entrepreneurship’s benefits, affordability and accessibility must remain a top priority. Encouraging more entrepreneurs to take action will not only revitalize the global economy, it will also fundamentally change the value proposition for starting a business, and the foundation on which the economy as a whole functions."

"That is why, even though the new year has just begun, the “Entrepreneur” gets my vote for TIME’s 2012 Person of the Year. I can only hope that you will be featured on the magazine’s cover before the year ends."

I've been saying this for a long while as a mantra for this blog: This is the renaissance age of entrepreneurship and it's just beginning. You can do it. Welcome.

2012: The Year of the Entrepreneur? Time/Moneyland

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A holiday treat with showcase ingredients from the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

One of my favorite stories to come out of this past year's holiday season was the great cookie (rugelach-pinwheels) that our daughter Anne made (among much else!).

She used the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen's Cherry Twist Jam as her showcase ingredient, along with walnuts and spices in a baked dough. (Recipe linked below)

When you serve good wholesome foods using the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen's products you not only eat well but you are supporting some great stories.

At the 2011 Madison Food and Wine Show we sampled the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen's Raspberry Jalapeno Jam spread over Wisconsin cream cheese on crackers. It was fantastic. People mobbed the booth. Then we got to tell the stories about all my friends with disabilities that work at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen.

If you would like to learn more about buying or selling foods from the Innovation Kitchen or about having your recipe prepared in a commercial kitchen by licensed food processing professionals, get in touch.

Congratulations Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen. It was my great honor to celebrate the holidays with you and your wonderful stories!

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Hodan Center

Iowa County (WI) Economic Development

Original rugelach-pinwheels recipe from the great blog site, Smitten Kitchen