The University of Wisconsin System's technology transfer efforts have gotten a major boost in recent weeks, thanks to the addition of four leaders who are heading programs aimed – in large part – at turning ideas into companies and jobs.
Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, calls the four – all of whom come from outside the UW System – "talented new kids on the block who will help lead economic development efforts to a new level of sophistication.
"These are the people who will help shape how the university deals with business growth on the campus and beyond. They have a fresh view of what's needed and how to pull that off."
The quartet, who spoke at Tuesday luncheon meeting of the Wisconsin Innovation Network, are:
John Biondi, director of the new Discovery to Product (D2P) program at UW-Madison, which will help identify and assist entrepreneurs and emerging companies on campus. He has worked for a number of Wisconsin start-ups.
Susan LaBelle, director of the UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations, which serves as a “front door” to the university for businesses of all sizes. She was an executive at Covance and also worked at Thrive.
Greg Robinson, general partner of the 4490 Venture Fund, a $30-million joint venture of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB). The fund will focus on information technology investments across Wisconsin and beyond. He is a transplant from California’s Silicon Valley.
Arjun Sanga, executive director of the WiSys Technology Foundation, which helps to facilitate technology development and transfer on UW System campuses outside Madison and Milwaukee. He worked in economic development with the University of Texas system.
Biondi, now in his second week at D2P, said the goal of the program is to improve the “hit rate at which the university takes in money, creates intellectual property and turns that into licensing arrangements and companies.”