Marquette President Michael R. Lovell today announced the university’s first-ever strategic innovation fund awardees. Thirty-eight unique projects led by Marquette faculty, students and staff across a variety of disciplines will receive nearly $5 million.

Awardees fell into one of six thematic categories: academic programs and student support, community collaboration and outreach, water and environmental, advanced manufacturing and engineering, university infrastructure and support, and health and well-being.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the creativity and passion of our faculty, students and staff throughout this entire process,” President Lovell said. “Every proposal we received showed a tremendous amount of innovative, entrepreneurial thinking, and each demonstrated a real desire to make Marquette, the broader community and the world better.”

Unveiled in President Lovell’s inaugural address in September 2014, the strategic innovation fund is similar to a venture capital fund, providing seed money to students, faculty and staff to explore entrepreneurial ventures. University leadership originally designated $2 million for the fund, and President Lovell raised an additional $3 million for it in just his first two months as president.

Earlier this year, more than 270 teams submitted pre-proposals, which were vetted by a newly established University Innovation Council. Ultimately, 180 final proposals were submitted and then reviewed by two teams of three people from the Innovation Council. A group of university leaders, including deans and vice presidents, along with President Lovell and Provost-elect Dan Myers, then discussed more than 50 proposals that were most highly recommended by the Innovation Council review teams. The president and provost-elect also reviewed additional meritorious proposals prior to finalizing the awards.

“What’s most exciting to me is that the projects come from students, faculty and staff, and represent all areas of our campus, from education to engineering to dentistry to a vast array of other disciplines,” said Dr. Jeanne Hossenlopp, vice president for research and innovation who led the innovation fund process. “Further, each of the university’s strategic plan themes will be moved forward by these innovative projects.”

Hossenlopp added that she and the University Innovation Council will in the coming months work with a number of the unfunded finalist proposals to explore possible alternative funding sources. They will also hold best practices workshops in advance of next year’s competition.

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