Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

Warf News & Media

Building Momentum: A message from Leigh Cagan

Photo of Cagan LeighI would like to start by reflecting on the performance of the Accelerator Program over our 2018 fiscal year, which ended on June 30. We welcomed Greg Keenan as WARF’s new program manager and our Board of Trustees approved funding to continue the program for another three years through June 2021. In this year of transition, our AP team delivered five commercial licenses, including two startups, and added four new Catalysts to our Food & Ag market focus area. In addition, we funded 19 new projects, with 15 awarded to first-time program participants. I would like to congratulate and thank our entire AP team, Catalysts and University partners.

In May, we held our annual All-Hands Meeting where we reviewed eight new funding proposals and heard updates from seven ongoing projects. Two proposals in the Clean Tech market focus area were from the IP portfolio managed by WiSys, the technology transfer organization for the UW System schools. Leveraging WARF’s AP infrastructure to support promising projects in the WiSys portfolio is an excellent example of our commitment to coordinate our approach to innovation across the state.

During the All-Hands Meeting, Greg highlighted the positive contributions AP has made in the commercialization of UW-Madison technologies since the inception of the program in 2010. To date, we have generated 32 commercial agreements from 18 different technologies, 13 of which enabled new startups. In addition, we funded 106 projects from 91 different investigators with program support from 45 Catalysts. A little-known fact was highlighted: on average, our project teams have secured ~$6.50 of follow-on investment for every $1 of AP project funding. These leveraged dollars come from follow-on grants and equity investments in startups based on AP-licensed technologies. Although not a primary goal of the program, this leveraged funding is critical to support commercialization and is a source of validation for these technologies.

Finally, I wanted to highlight the new WARF Innovation Day event we will host at the Discovery Building on October 17. We are expanding our annual WARF Innovation Awards program, which celebrates the top idea disclosures we receive throughout the year, to include a quick pitch session that will highlight six of our most promising AP projects. The event will also include a keynote speech by Byron Reese, a technology entrepreneur and author, in which he will discuss the impact of technology on the future. More details on the WARF Innovation Day can be found on our website. I hope to see you all at the event.

Leigh Cagan