Center for Corporate Innovation opens at UW-Madison

February 15, 2017
Photo: Fluno Center

The Fluno Center on the UW–Madison campus, home of the new Center for Corporate Innovation. Photo: Jeff Miller

Corporate executives have a new way to develop the skills and tools they need to thrive in today’s fast-paced business world at the newly opened Center for Corporate Innovation in the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Corporations spend millions on product development and bringing new technology to existing products, developing and executing go-to-market strategies based on decades-old “best-practices,” and optimizing the efficiency of existing business processes. The center, located in the Fluno Center on the UW campus, will help executives drive innovation and allocate capital more effectively.

Photo: Sandra Bradley

Sandra Bradley

“Executives will learn design thinking and lean innovation methods through hands-on learning workshops, peer-to-peer executive circles, innovative partnerships, and an innovation master class in Silicon Valley,” says CCI director Sandra Bradley. “The center will help drive economic growth through deep engagement with C-suite leaders, and grow opportunities for students.”

Bradley was most recently research director of the Internet of Things Lab at UW–Madison. Realizing that needs in innovation and entrepreneurship go beyond what a single technology can do, she established — independent of the IoT Lab — the Hyper-Innovation Project to experiment with different approaches to innovation.

“The initial idea to create an ecosystem around innovation and jointly problem-solve is inspired by one of my personal mentors, Monique Morrow, chief technology officer of emerging frontiers at Cisco Systems,” Bradley says. “She told me about the Cisco Hyper-Innovation Living Labs where Cisco comes together with partners and customers to jointly solve problems. I thought, what if we took that idea and open-sourced it?”

Bradley contributed to Morrow’s book The Internet of Women: Accelerating Culture Change.

Madison-based American Family Insurance is providing support for CCI’s programming, which will include holding functions at The Spark, the company’s newest building, to be located in the Capital East corridor of Madison. It is scheduled for completion in mid-2018.

“The Center … will serve as a source of thought leadership, corporate innovation, skills development and real-world problem solving that will benefit both companies and their communities.

Peter Gunder

“We believe customer-driven innovation not only requires focus and effort within our company, but also obtaining creative perspectives and ideas from others,” says Peter Gunder, chief business development officer at American Family. “The Center for Corporate Innovation will serve as a source of thought leadership, corporate innovation, skills development and real-world problem solving that will benefit both companies and their communities.”

This year, CCI will offer an Innovation Idea Incubator space for interdisciplinary solving of innovation problems. It will also offer forums and programs for executives to refine their strategic vision, seize new opportunities, manage risk, and drive a sustainable competitive advantage. Programs targeted to managers and practitioners will focus on developing leadership skills and how to positively affect every facet of a product or service by encouraging and guiding innovation.

Go to uwinnovation.org to learn more about center and upcoming Lean Innovation Boot Camp for Corporate Innovation Teams, led by New York Times best-selling author Brant Cooper March 29-30.