The Innovate Network brings together a group diligently focused on being a resource to help guide entrepreneurs through the many steps of the innovation process. Each Partner specializes in different areas, contributing different resources, perspectives, and expertise needed during the process of building a business around an idea. For much of the time, inter-network partnerships are infrequent, but there are often great opportunities for partners to come together and learn from one another and assess together. One such opportunity emerged recently, when the Isthmus Project participated in a unique opportunity alongside the Weinert Center in the Wisconsin School of Business.

The Weinert Applied Ventures in Entrepreneurship (WAVE) practicum course is offered through the Weinert Center and takes a team-centered approach to answer questions that naturally occur when working through the Business Model Canvas. Each team proposes a business venture that they grow throughout the semester by performing diligence, weekly class presentations, and a final pitch to an external board of entrepreneurial leaders from around the country.

MBA student groups participate in the Weinert WAVE Applied Ventures in Entrepreneurship on Wednesday, May 4, 2022.  (Paul L. Newby, II /UW-Madison Wisconsin School of Business)

MBA student groups participate in the Weinert WAVE Applied Ventures in Entrepreneurship on Wednesday, May 4, 2022. (Paul L. Newby, II /UW-Madison Wisconsin School of Business)

Similarly, Isthmus Project helps innovators and entrepreneurs from across the UW ecosystem begin to answer important questions needed to commercialize an idea through business creation. Isthmus Project utilizes deep expertise to focus on innovations within the healthcare and medical device industries, meeting innovators where they are in their projects to provide the most appropriate direction where and when they need it.

As supporters of innovation, Isthmus Project is constantly looking for ways to innovate within internal processes, and in this vein, this past spring an Isthmus Project employee had the opportunity to participate in WAVE as part of an MBA program. Collaborating with the WAVE practicum course gave Isthmus Project an opportunity to create an environment to enhance processes by incorporating the input from a WAVE team. Isthmus Project was able to expose students to, and help them assess a complex, medical device-focused business idea that was later stage and could provide a real-life example to projects they may encounter later in their careers. In doing so, Isthmus Project was able to gain diverse student perspectives that offered an unbiased assessment of the project from various angles. These additional perspectives were able to shape Isthmus Project ideas and claims around this particular project by testing and presenting hypotheses to the class on weekly basis. Finally, the WAVE course provided a more structured, linear approach to a business build which broke down the process into targeted and digestible modules. This differs from the Isthmus Project’s approach, as project variation and evolution necessitate a more fluid process to meet clients where they are.

Both innovate partners work to answer essential questions for business formation but do so in different ways that address different goals. As a structured course, WAVE helps build a foundation for students, whereas Isthmus Project utilizes deep industry knowledge to serve active projects and real-world clients. Additionally, through this inter-network partnership, the Isthmus Project teammate bolstered their acumen in the space while also serving as a culmination to their MBA. Innovate Network collaborative efforts not only have the ability to help clients but also can enhance experiences for internal team members.