MEETING THE UNIVERSITY’S CURRENT AND FUTURE NEEDS
WARF’s investment team and board of trustees, along with WARF’s OCIO, Northern Trust Investments, take a long-term approach to managing the portfolio. We balance the needs of today with the goals of tomorrow. Following our mission, we support today’s researchers through our investments of time, expertise and funds, while maintaining support for future generations of university scientists.
WARF’s careful management of the $3.0 billion investment portfolio has resulted in a long-term track record of success. Our diversified portfolio has outpaced inflation, allowing for continual growth of the base grant to the university.
Our Long View in Action
WARF maintains a portfolio of assets designed to maximize our ability to support the UW-Madison research enterprise. Our diversified investments include stocks and bonds as well as private equity, venture capital, hedge funds and real estate. All WARF assets are actively managed to achieve our charitable mission as a university supporting organization.
The inspiration for WARF’s investment portfolio dates to the Great Depression. Founded in 1925, WARF’s intellectual property began earning substantial revenue a few short months before the 1929 market crash. Our board of trustees — made up of prominent Badger alumni with professional backgrounds in law, finance and industry — recognized that a global crisis presented two distinct challenges for their new foundation: As tax revenues shrank, state support for university research would be substantially reduced. At the same time, a shrinking economy only increased the volatility and risk inherent in commercializing innovative technologies.
The trustees responded by fully investing WARF’s net royalties in a diversified portfolio with the expressed intent of growing annual grant support to meet the crisis and shielding commercialization revenue from market-based risk. That strategy, pursued over the following century, has funded continual, year-over-year growth of WARF’s grantmaking while strengthening our financial position and, by extension, our capacity to bring groundbreaking university technologies to market.
As of June 30, 2023, WARF’s assets under management are valued at $3.0 billion dollars, which has funded $4.4 billion in cumulative, inflation-adjusted grants to UW-Madison and the Morgridge Institute for Research.
WARF has aggressively adjusted our strategy and types of holdings over the decades to evolve with the times and the realities of the markets. But the fundamental principles of our founding trustees remain the same. We are committed to innovative, forward-looking and responsible asset management in furtherance of our mission: To enable UW-Madison research to solve the world’s problems.