Milwaukee’s tech inclusiveness | Fast Frontiers | Digital training in Cleveland
February 11, 2021
“Diversity is the mix. Inclusion is making the mix work.” — Andres Tapia, global diversity, equity & inclusion strategist
Milwaukee's tech inclusiveness
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February 11, 2021
LAYOVER IN MILWAUKEE
Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition takes deliberate approach to inclusiveness
Image courtesy MKE Tech
The Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition (MKE Tech) is a non-profit that was formed a year ago with six initial founding members. Today, there are 65 members focused on inclusively doubling tech talent in the Milwaukee region. Flyover Future spoke with Kathy Henrich, MKE Tech’s CEO, to find out what they’re doing and how they take a deliberate approach to inclusiveness.
Tell us about MKE Tech.
Henrich: The Milwaukee region already has over 80,000 tech workers and about 2,000 tech businesses, which surprises most people. We are continuing to grow those numbers through our work.
We have the expectation that all our programs have at least 50% diversity. We approach this in a holistic manner. We look at in terms of ‘How do you build demand for jobs while at the same time matching that with the right supply?’
Part of that involves enabling a robust startup ecosystem. We do it through a startup incubator, a reverse pitch competition, etc., but also by really connecting the region.
Lastly, our focus is around recruitment and growth of tech companies.
What is your background?
Henrich: I worked for IBM for 30 years. While there, I went back to school and got a masters in workforce and talent development with a focus on AI and automation. I helped IBM set strategies around the future of work. After that I did consulting work with individual organizations as they went through the digital transition.
Can you give us some examples of what MKE does?
Henrich: We run an idea-stage incubator, where you can literally come in with a problem you want to be able to solve with technology and we’ll help you figure it out—going from is there a market for this product to how do you develop the product to how do you pitch the product, etc. In 2020, we had 115 people in the program. We had 45 new businesses formed as a result. We had 65% diversity in historically underrepresented populations.
"The Milwaukee region already has over 80,000 tech workers and about 2,000 tech businesses, which surprises most people."
— Kathy Henrich, MKE Tech’s CEO
We also do a reverse pitch where we have corporations that are actually pitching out challenges and leveraging the startup community to help them innovate and solve those challenges. There’s $10,000 in prize money but up to $100,000 in corporate investment. It’s a great way for a new company to get financial footing.
We’re very involved in K-12 tech education. We did strategic planning with seven school districts in the region to help them set goals and plans for inclusive computer science education. We collaborated with nonprofits to figure out how they could meet those demands.
We also have partnered to build capacity for reskilling, including an apprenticeship program and a reskill collaborative that allows us to harness the power of multiple parties to reskill individuals.
Any new goals for MKE Tech?
Henrich: The goal is to continue to grow scale through partnership including our corporate members, non-profits, government, and economic development partners. Collectively we can have a huge impact in the region.
Explore innovation with the Fast Frontiers podcast
If you enjoy discovering innovation in surprising places and hearing stories from entrepreneurial leaders, Fast Frontiersis your new must-listen to podcast. Host Tim Schigel, Managing Partner of Refinery Ventures, brings you interviews form leading funders, ecosystem builders, corporate innovators, and startup founders. Your next big idea is one episode away!
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Steve Walchek, Chief Innovation Officer of FIS — S2: E3
From founder to product manager, to business development and everything in between, FIS Chief Innovation Officer Steve Walchek has done it all. Gain an edge from Steve's insight on different destinations along an innovator's journey.
Verizon funds digital training initiative in Cleveland
JumpStart, an entrepreneurial support and economic development organization located in Cleveland, has announced a new digital training initiative. The program, called Access Tech, will be funded by Verizon and will seek to make transformational change through equity and innovation.
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If you have a startup that focuses on 5G technologies, such as AR/VR/XR, advanced spatial audio solutions, robotics, heads-up, and holographic displays, you'll want to check out T-Mobile's Spring accelerator program. The application deadline is February 28.
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With a blend of on-demand and live sessions, the virtual 2021 program is designed to provide you with the latest industry updates and flexibility to view content and company pitches according to your schedule. Co-produced by InvestMidwest and the Midwest Growth Capital Symposium. Register HERE.
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FUELING THE FUTURE
What is fueling Flyover Country innovation? In this weekly feature, we share a variety of announcements covering funding, acquisitions, exits, grants, and everything in between. Got something to celebrate? Click here to share your story.
Ann Arbor’s Pocketnest, a SaaS company that works directly with banks, credit unions, and financial planners to help consumers with their personal finance needs, has closed on $500,000 in new growth capital. The funding was led by The Impact Seat, a management consulting firm in Boston, as well as Detroit-based venture capital firm ID Ventures.
Hungry Planet, a St. Louis-based startup that produces plant-based meat, has landed an investment from Post Holdings, Inc. as part of a strategic partnership between the two firms. Financial terms were not released.
Martin McGuinn, who led Pittsburgh-based Mellon Financial Corp. prior to its merger with the Bank of New York, has made a $10 million gift to Villanova University to support faculty research, a central part of the university’s new 10-year strategic plan.
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NAME THAT FLYOVER CITY!
It's time for our favorite trivia game!
Most cities in the U.S. have a nickname; some have several. We’re going to throw some lesser-known nicknames out there and see if you can guess the city they're associated with. Here they are: