In recognition of the university’s efforts to cultivate a culture of innovative and collaborative problem solving within its students, faculty, staff and community, Marquette earned two national awards for innovation at the University Economic Development Association’s annual summit.
Marquette won the 2018 Award of Excellence for Developing Innovation and the Journal of Economic Development in Higher Education 2018 Editors’ Choice Award in the innovation category. The summit took place Oct. 21-24 in Milwaukee. The awards were for Marquette’s Explorer Challenge, an annual competition that invites students, faculty, and staff to submit proposals for up to $25,000 in seed money for innovative projects that make an impact and advance Beyond Boundaries, Marquette’s Strategic Plan. The Challenge especially encourages interdisciplinary, collaborative projects and community-based partnerships in pursuit of finding solutions to pressing challenges.
“When I first came to Marquette, building a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship throughout our campus was one of my top priorities,” President Michael R. Lovell said. “These awards are one of many indications that we’re now building that culture together. It makes me so proud to see our students, faculty and staff come together to explore innovative approaches to any number of challenges and opportunities that exist all around us. We often talk about preparing our students for jobs that don’t exist yet. By encouraging this kind of thinking, we will help our students be ready to face these new challenges.”
Marquette was one of three finalists chosen by the UEDA awards committee for the Award of Excellence for Innovation, then won the award through voting by summit attendees. In a presentation to attendees before the final vote, Vice President for Research and Innovation Jeanne Hossenlopp highlighted how the Explorer Challenge provides seed funding for projects, infrastructure for internal and external networking and resources to support innovation projects proposed by students, faculty and staff.
The Explorer Challenge, formerly known as the Strategic Innovation Fund, was one of President Lovell’s first initiatives when he arrived at Marquette in 2014. In its first three years of existence, the Explorer Challenge has already returned slightly more income via grants and other entrepreneurial revenues than funding dollars expended. One third of the projects were led by non-faculty, nearly 28 percent have students named on project teams and 65 percent of the funded projects involved two or more university units working together.
“We’re honored that the University Economic Development Association and the Journal of Economic Development in Higher Education recognized our efforts with these awards,” Hossenlopp said. “The Explorer Challenge is one of many ways that we as a university are promoting a campus-wide culture of innovation fueled by entrepreneurial thinking, cross-campus participation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and external partnerships.”
As part of the Explorer Challenge, Marquette is hosting its fourth annual Ideas Fest on Wednesday, Oct. 31, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the 707 Hub. Members of the Marquette community can bring ideas to meet with potential collaborators and learn how to apply for research funding through the Explorer Challenge.