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The Weinert Center was created in 1986 and renamed in 1999 after James J. Weinert, an alumnus of the Wisconsin School of Business. Bruce D. Neviaser, chairman/founding director of the Great Lakes Companies Inc., Madison, donated $1 million to the WAVE program in the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Wisconsin School of Business to honor his father, Daniel H. Neviaser, a prominent Madison businessman and civic leader.

For the past two decades, the University of Wisconsin–Madison has been a pioneer in entrepreneurship education, outreach and research. Since the Wisconsin School of Business first offered an undergraduate course in small business management in 1982, an ever-growing stream of students from all over campus and around the world has been trained to innovate, develop businesses, and pursue entrepreneurial dreams. In addition, hundreds of existing businesses have been assisted on the road to reaching their full potential. Finally, a cadre of leading scholars has been assembled for the purpose of investigating the process of entrepreneurship. From the very beginning, the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship has been the nexus for this activity within the Wisconsin School of Business.

Established in 1986 by Professors Alan Filley and Bob Pricer as the Center for Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship, it became The Enterprise Center in 1992 when it was merged with the Irwin Maier Chair of Business held at that time by Professor Jon Udell. The Center was renamed in the fall of 1999 in honor of a generous gift from UW–Madison alumnus James Weinert (MBA 1969).

UW–Madison was awarded a grant by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in 2007 to support and enhance entrepreneurial activities throughout the curriculum.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Weinert Center is to improve society and the lives of our students through a portfolio of teaching, research, and service activities centered around:

  • Fostering entrepreneurial mindset relevant in startups and established firms
  • Launching entrepreneurial ventures and successfully navigating the crucial transitions of high-growth firms
  • Evaluating and managing the associated risks of funding start-up and early-stage companies
  • Helping to create and maintain entrepreneurial spirit in established organizations.
  • Understanding and influencing the local, state, and national public policies that facilitate successful entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial thinking
  • Connecting research and practice in the area of entrepreneurship
  • Accomplishing social goals through for-profit and non-profit entrepreneurship.

This mission is consistent with “The Wisconsin Idea,” one of the first successful attempts in the U.S. to make university resources available to individuals outside university boundaries, and the stated commitments of the Wisconsin School of Business. It includes a strong emphasis on students as our primary focus, research to advance knowledge, diversity of participants, and service to the community.


The Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship will be:

  • Internationally recognized as a premier provider of entrepreneurship education and new knowledge regarding the entrepreneurial process and thinking
  • Fully funded through endowment income
  • A key partner in entrepreneurship programming across the UW–Madison campus
  • Positively impacting the Wisconsin and the global economies by launching new student-founded businesses, and assisting in the start-up and growth of Wisconsin-based (especially those utilizing UW technologies) high-potential ventures and helping established companies to become more entrepreneurial.