Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

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Ideas meet industry at All Hands event

Two men talking
WARF Trustee and Catalyst Keith Lobo meets with an All Hands participant

From cloud computing to solving the global water crisis, dreams took center stage at WARF’s All Hands Meeting held May 17 at the Discovery Building.

The annual gathering is the signature event of the WARF Accelerator Program. It is an opportunity for some of the best and brightest campus researchers to network and pitch industry advisors known as ‘Catalysts.’ These include executives of Fortune 500 companies, R&D directors, venture capitalists and WARF trustees Peter Tong, Gordon Brunner, Keith Lobo and David Smukowski.

Group of people standing

Researchers from across disciplines, both young and seasoned, made hourlong proposals. Projects ranged from a desalination battery that could provide billions with fresh drinking water, to healthier soybeans, to customized medical implants using 3-D metal printing.

Launched in 2009, the Accelerator Program identifies technologies with the greatest potential for commercial success. Through funding and mentorship, the program has helped more than 80 inventors advance their technologies closer to the marketplace. It has spawned nine startup companies (seven in Wisconsin) and 20 commercial licenses.

The annual All Hands Meeting is led by WARF licensing managers and associates, while other staff assist or attend throughout the day.

Man talking at a podium using hands
Leigh Cagen, WARF’s Chief Technology Commercialization Officer, moderates a panel of faculty entrepreneurs

Wednesday’s event was capped by a multi-panel discussion “From Benchtop to Big Time: What university technologies need to make it to market.” Faculty entrepreneurs and industry leaders discussed starting a business and what commercial partners look for in early-stage technologies. New WARF Trustee Deborah Keller took part in the reception that followed.

“This day is always inspiring, with exciting research proposals, insightful discussion and lots of networking,” said Jennifer Gottwald, WARF licensing manager.

Gottwald is currently serving as interim Accelerator Program manager until the position is filled.