University Economic Development Association


Marquette University Explorer Challenge

Award Category: Innovation
Project Site: Marquette University Explorer Challenge
Submitted By: Marquette University
Contact: Dr. Jeanne Hossenlopp, 414.288.1532

Case Study

Marquette’s Explorer Challenge is an annual competition that is integral toward promoting a campus-wide culture of innovation, fueled by entrepreneurial thinking, cross-campus participation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and external partnerships. Open to all members of the University community—faculty, staff, and students—the Challenge provides seed funding for projects, the infrastructure for internal and external networking, and resources to support entrepreneurship. The Challenge especially encourages interdisciplinary, collaborative projects and community-based partnerships in pursuit of finding solutions to pressing challenges.

The Explorer Challenge is the brainchild of Marquette’s president, Dr. Michael Lovell, who observed upon his arrival at Marquette that the University community had great untapped potential: although they had many creative and innovative ideas, they were unsure how to bring these ideas to life and how, then, to make a more lasting impact on society. Working from Marquette’s vision statement, part of which encourages the University to “reach beyond traditional academic boundaries and embrace new and collaborative methods of teaching, learning, research and service,” President Lovell, together with University leadership, convened an Innovation Council comprised of faculty, staff, and students to initiate and oversee the Explorer Challenge.

In its three years of existence, the Explorer Challenge has already returned slightly more income (via grants and other entrepreneurial revenues) than funding dollars expended. In the spirit of inclusiveness, collaboration, and community partnership, a 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.

Finalist Presentation

UEDA Awards of Excellence Finalists presented at the Annual Summit in Milwaukee on October 22 and 23, 2018. Summit attendees then voted for the best initiative in each category.