Tom Still: The power of undergraduate research is felt in the Wisconsin economy | Economic news


This is in part due to energetic chancellors such as Jim Schmidt of UW-Eau Claire, who forged partnerships with industry where they make sense to students and the community. For example, UW-Eau Claire’s research partnership with the Mayo Clinic opens doors for students and practitioners.

Another factor is the rise of the WiSys Technology Foundation, which is an offspring of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. WiSys has been led since 2014 by Arjun Sanga, who has brought to the organization a mix of expertise in intellectual property and technology commercialization.

Founded in 1925, WARF handles patent and licensing issues for UW-Madison, returning money to the campus research cycle and often allowing young companies to start. WiSys does much the same for the four-year UW campuses outside of Madison and Milwaukee while engaging students in research and entrepreneurship.

Recent figures illustrate the progress of WiSys, which has seen a steady increase in the number of ideas submitted by researchers; disclosures of inventions by these same researchers; patent applications; issued patents; and business licenses or access granted.

Equally important is the awareness of WiSys in the communities surrounding the campuses where the nonprofit is active. At Eau Claire, the first “VentureHome” program connects campus researchers, inventors and entrepreneurs with community resources and businesses that can turn ideas into startups and products. Other VentureHome programs are in various stages of planning in Platteville, Superior, Green Bay, Oshkosh and Kenosha.

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