PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — A recent study has found that educational and business organizations in Platteville have made a start at developing digital economic opportunities.
The Center on Rural Innovation and Rural Innovation Strategies Inc. featured Platteville in a case study examining how organizations across different sectors can collaborate on encouraging tech-based economic development in rural areas.
“Although Platteville is still on the early side of its tech-based economic development, the success it has seen thus far in securing funding, bridging relationships and forging partnerships offers essential lessons to other rural communities considering pursuing such a development pathway,” the study reads.
The report, which was completed in January, highlights the efforts of the IDEA Hub Accelerator, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, the Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and the Platteville Business Incubator.
Rural Innovation Strategies Inc. helped UW-P and the Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission apply for the grant funding to launch the IDEA Hub.
In Platteville, the study identifies bridging the gap between the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and the rest of the community as one challenge.
“I’ve worked with hundreds of universities over the years and they can get to feel like bubbles,” IDEA Hub director Maia Donohue said.
The case study notes that the IDEA Hub and its supporting organizations have been successful at securing funding and bridging relationships in a way that other communities could learn from.
UW-P associate professor Marcia Harr Bailey said that the university recently has begun working more on connecting students to outside resources and entrepreneurs. Much of the study centers on the IDEA Hub, which is an example of a university-community partnership.
“That’s part of what we’re trying to do more of,” Harr Bailey said. “In the past we’ve been focused on connecting with the community but not in the same way that we’re able to do now.”
Donohue gave the example of a hypothetical individual living somewhere between Dubuque and Platteville who’s interested in financial technology. If they have an idea, they might not think that it’s something that they can launch where they live.
But they could, Donohue said. And the IDEA Hub could help them do it and connect them with resources or mentors in the field they are interested in from outside the community.
UW-P Executive Director of Corporate Relations Craig Beytien described the IDEA Hub as a watershed. He said that over the past few years, several ideas have been developed at the university, but a piece was missing to transform those ideas into sustainable businesses or products.
“(The IDEA Hub) allowed for a number of tributaries to connect so that the flow becomes greater,” Beytien said.