The University of Wisconsin's flagship campus in Madison is nationally known for its research and for launching startups like Epic and Promega that have gone on to become global leaders. UW-Madison is taking that legacy a step further with its new Discovery to Product (D2P) program, which aims to accelerate the formation of more campus startups by helping students commercialize research. The program is sponsored by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), a nonprofit that provides financial, patent and licensing support for commercializing university-based research.
“In a knowledge-based economy, universities are the idea banks of this country, and we're sitting here in Wisconsin with one of the top research universities in the world,” says John Biondi, director of D2P.
D2P's goal is to increase the flow of these discoveries that reach the marketplace by helping students build business and revenue models around their innovations. It also works to help them commercialize their ideas by showing them how to obtain licensing agreements or launch companies with a high probability of attracting equity funding. Students accepted into the 10-week program are eligible to receive seed funding through Igniter grants and work closely with mentors and potential investors who guide them through the process. Current projects range from an exercise machine that helps stroke victims walk to a faster process for making nerve cells that could speed up the development of treatments for injuries and diseases to technology for a brighter, more energy-efficient LED light.
D2P enhances the entrepreneurial ecosystem on campus by “furthering the notion that UW-Madison is about helping create companies that stay here and create jobs and products made in Wisconsin,” Biondi says.
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