Innovation and the Wisconsin Idea

INNOVATION and the WISCONSIN IDEA
How Alumni Can Carry the Wisconsin Idea Forward
With a Badger assist more solutions can make their way from campus to the market, strengthening the state's economy and changing the world, says Michael Knetter, president of the University of Wisconsin Foundation. He calls on enterprising graduates - both young and seasoned - to build connections and help jump-start the university's business culture.

Michael Knetter


When I came to UW–Madison from Dartmouth in 2002 to become the dean of the business school, I confess I didn’t fully appreciate the concept of the Wisconsin Idea. In my view, making an impact on the community was a no-brainer. If the business school wasn’t relevant, then what were we doing? 

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Zach Brandon
Tim Sheehy

As business leaders of Milwaukee and Madison, we bet every day on the future of this great state. Our members are among the most innovative and dynamic businesses in Wisconsin and are creating jobs at a robust pace in important sectors like advanced manufacturing, bioscience, food production, digital technology and water.
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Senator Alberta Darling
Rock Mackie

The statewide tenet – that the University of Wisconsin should influence every family of the state – dates back well before it was voiced by UW President Charles Van Hise in 1905. When the wheat farmers of the late 19th century saw their land lose its richness, the university helped them transform into dairy farmers. That legacy graces our landscape to this day.
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Tom Still
Chancellor Dean Van Galen

The Wisconsin Idea is traditionally understood to mean the boundaries of the University of Wisconsin extend to the boundaries of the state, a philosophy that knowledge should be shared with communities in ways that directly benefit them. Historically, for many Wisconsinites, the University of Wisconsin only meant UW-Madison. Through its commitment to promoting that university’s discoveries, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation – WARF – is one of the primary catalysts for advancing the entrepreneurial side of the Wisconsin Idea.
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Robert N. Golden
Senator Luther Olsen

We are proud to have recently created a truly integrated academic health system, UW Health. As, respectively, dean of the School of Medicine and Public Health and a state senator on the UW Health Authority Board, we navigated a lengthy process of integrating our hospitals and clinics with our physicians’ group. UW Health is now a more seamless organization caring for patients across the full continuum of community-based primary care to highly technical, state-of-the-art specialized services.
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Arjun Sanga
Zach Halmstad

There is no shortage of creativity among the students and professors of the University of Wisconsin System. They come up with great ideas every day, from a new way to teach physics out of UW-Green Bay to a mechanism that lets a paraplegic at UW-River Falls saddle her own horse.
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Ian Robertson
Greg Piefer

Just last August, we stood together in Janesville to commemorate breaking ground on the first building for SHINE Medical Technologies, a spinoff from technology developed at the UW–Madison College of Engineering. While it may have looked like just another ribbon-cutting ceremony with speeches and dignitaries, to us it was steeped in deep meaning.
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John Neis
Cory Nettles

The Wisconsin Idea – the concept that the knowledge and innovative ideas from the university reach to the borders of our state and beyond – highlights the preeminent role that our university system plays in creating a better quality of life for the citizens in our state.
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Dr. Alan Kaplan
Dr. Susan Turney

As doctors and leaders of health care systems, we are in business for only one reason — the patients and communities we serve. The Wisconsin Idea to us is the conviction that science, discovery and innovation can improve our lives individually and collectively as a community. 
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Christopher Salm
Kathryn VandenBosch

Wisconsin agriculture is making big news. As we embark on new global partnerships and get set to break fresh ground, let’s take a moment to reflect on the Wisconsin Idea. One of the principles of this idea is that university accomplishments can change lives across our state and have an impact on society.
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Daniel Ludois
Cecil Edirisinghe

More than a century ago, Wisconsin served as the birthplace for a series of blue chip industrial giants. The likes of Harley-Davidson and Johnson Controls, or engine makers like Fairbanks Morse and Briggs & Stratton, were the bold startups of the day.
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Gov. Tommy Thompson
Prof. Michael Sussman

We first met two decades ago – a Republican governor from the small town of Elroy, Wisconsin, and a Democrat University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of biochemistry from New York.
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Erik Iverson


From the moment I arrived in Wisconsin last year, I loved the familiar energy, intellect and passion for doing things well. I was happy to return to my Midwestern roots to become the managing director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).

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