Inventing a Bright future

    The state of Wisconsin has a long-standing history of research and innovation.

    The University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of the top research institutions in the country. Cell biologist James Thomson derived the first human embryonic stem cell at UW-Madison. Karl Paul Link created two of the most widely used medical blood thinners – Coumadin and Warfarin – at UW-Madison. Thomas Mackie and Paul Reckwerdt invented TomoTherapy® for more accurate and successful radiotherapy treatment of cancer. The list goes on…
    While the foundation of Wisconsin’s research history is on the Madison campus, other organizations in the state, as well as other UW system campuses, have helped spawn significant advancements in bio-science, bio-technology, health care, renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, design engineering, food and agriculture, and the study of genetics. These and future advancements will play a significant role in the economic development of the state of Wisconsin, today and in the future.

    “Based on figures from the National Science Foundation, academic research and development is more than a $1.1 billion industry in the state of Wisconsin,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “There is a strong heritage here in the state surrounding research and innovation. This type of work has always happened here, and we continue to build on that heritage.”

    Research spending translates into more than 38,000 jobs, Still added.

    The Wisconsin Technology Council first identified potential research centers of excellence in its 2002 publication Vision 2020: A Model Wisconsin Economy. The report identified Wisconsin’s potential areas of research excellence as tissue regeneration, personalized medicine, error-free hospitals, genetically modified organisms, zoonotics, disease control, small molecule pharmaceuticals, intelligent networks, mass data storage, nanotechnology systems, extreme materials, computing and communications, and homeland security.

    While the decade-old publication turned out to be a good indicator, additional expertise in advanced manufacturing, bio-manufacturing, water technologies, energy conservation and generation technologies has also emerged, Still said.

    WiSys Technology Foundation, Inc., a division of the (UW)Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), was established in 2005 to help identify innovative technologies developed at other University of Wisconsin two-year and four-year campuses, with the ultimate goal of commercialization.

    “WiSys was established to help build better technology transfer and research capacity throughout the UW-system,” said Maliyakal John, managing director of WiSys. “When we started doing this work we didn’t have any startups from the other four-year campuses. Since we started assisting in the facilitation, we have helped form 14 startups from outside the University Wisconsin Madison campus.”

    “The possibilities with this type of research are endless,” John added. “Wisconsin is leading the charge. I have not come across any other universities in the country that have as much focus, dedication and motivation, whether it be a UW campus, the administration or the State. We’re setting an example for how it can be done.”

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