The University of Wisconsin System is taking aim at working in conjunction with local businesses in an effort to provide opportunities to students and faculty to promote economic development.

According to David Brukardt, UW associate vice president for economic development, the UW System Office of Economic Development plans to establish firm connections between Wisconsin universities and entrepreneurial companies. Both parties will benefit from the partnership, emphasizing a focus on small businesses.

Brukardt said linkage with small businesses through the Internet would provide “key connections” that will utilize the talent and expertise of various students and faculty members in the UW System.

According to Brukardt, UW students would also contribute to the
partnerships by helping companies in any area of need, including
technology, efficiency, manufacturing, marketing and market research.
Students also will find ways to seek funding and develop business plans
for those companies, he said.

“The state has about 157,000 businesses, 94 percent of which are small,” Brukardt said. “Connecting with small businesses that are looking for resources, we can provide, will promote job growth.”

However, according to Brukardt, the UW System is limiting its search for connections to small businesses, adding that faculty and students both at UW and throughout the University of Wisconsin-Extension program have been working with businesses of all sizes.

According to UW Director of Office of Corporate Relations, Charlie Hoslet, the importance of linking businesses with universities comes with the state’s difficult economic times.

“During these challenging economic times, we need to do everything we can to work with businesses to promote efficiency, because that is what is ultimately going to create, maintain and develop the economy,” Hoslet said.

Though the economic promotion plan is a UW System initiative, Hoslet said the idea of connecting with businesses is very consistent with UW’s “Wisconsin Idea,” as it takes valuable resources from the Madison campus to help businesses prosper in Wisconsin and beyond.

Brukardt and Hoslet agreed students and faculty in the UW System will both benefit greatly from increased connections with businesses located both in and out of the state.

“Our objective is to continue to improve upon the economic activities that are already happening here on the UW campus and in the UW-Extension program,” Brukardt said. “We want to continue to grow and expand our valuable connections with businesses.”

Brukardt said the faculty and students who are interested in entrepreneurial businesses and internships will be able to seize these opportunities to gain experience and expertise in a variety of business-related fields.

Hoslet agreed, adding not only will the initiative provide students and faculty with entrepreneurial experience, it also will provide data and material for research opportunities.

“This is an excellent opportunity for students to get engaged with companies and to experience different fields through internships at these companies,” Hoslet said. “For faculty, this kind of work is valuable because it provides real-world experiences and case studies professors can bring back to the classroom.”