Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

Warf News & Media

WARF announces annual grant figures and 2019 Innovation Award winners

Philip Romero, Ophelia Venturelli, and Mark Saffman

Jeanan Yasiri Moe, Director of Strategic Communications
[email protected] | 608.960.9892

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) has granted the university $80 million for the 2019-20 academic year. The announcement capped off WARF’s Innovation Day, a celebration of campus inventors held at Monona Terrace.

WARF also announced $11.9 million in grants to the Morgridge Institute for Research. Combined, WARF’s investment in UW–Madison-based research and education is approximately $91.9 million for 2019-20.

The grant figures were released the same night as two research teams took home WARF Innovation Awards for their outstanding technological achievements. They are: Mark Saffman (physics) who has developed simplified optical hardware for quantum computing; and Ophelia Venturelli, Philip Romero, Ryan Hsu and Jin Wen Tan (biochemistry) for developing a microfluidic tool for mapping how bacteria interact in complex communities.

An independent panel of judges selected the Innovation Award winners from a field of six finalists drawn from approximately 350 invention disclosures submitted to WARF over the past 12 months. The winning teams each receive an award of $10,000 to support their continued research.

Learn more about Innovation Day and the six award finalists here.

“The product of UW–Madison research touches our families and jobs here in Wisconsin and keeps the state competitive globally,” said WARF’s Chief Executive Officer Erik Iverson. “The annual grant is one way that WARF supports this work from the ground up, by investing in the bold ideas that lead to discovery, and upholding the promise of a great public research university.”

2019-20 A Guide to WARF Support for UW-Madison thumbnail
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The total grant includes $12 million for faculty recruitment and retention, $2.5 million for faculty fellowships and $11.5 million for graduate student support.

“I am thankful for the crucial partnership between our researchers and WARF. Through the years, support from WARF has been one of the main reasons UW-Madison has remained on the front edge of innovation and discovery,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank said. “Research institutions like UW–Madison do the basic science that leads to major scientific and medical breakthroughs; this in turn provides an economic spark for Wisconsin and the nation.”

More than $10.9 million is dedicated to the time-honored Fall Research Competition, which draws hundreds of research proposals from as many as 120 different academic departments each year.

In addition, $9.5 million has been allocated to the UW2020: WARF Discovery Initiative, which offers seed funding to advance some of the boldest and most prescient research on campus. The Discovery to Product (D2P) program is supported with $750,000; another $5 million provides grant matches for instrumentation, facilities, doctoral training and research programs.

“We are grateful to WARF for its strong history of partnering with UW–Madison and its continued support of research and graduate education on campus,” said Steve Ackerman, UW–Madison Interim Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education. “The WARF annual grant engages faculty and students alike in innovative research and builds strong projects that are very competitive when investigators apply for external funding. Funding for areas such as cluster hires creates new interdisciplinary areas of knowledge, and the seed funding for internal competitions is a smart investment that is helping address complex problems that cross all research divisions – biological, physical and social sciences, and the arts and humanities.”

WARF’s support for the Morgridge Institute for Research continues, with an investment of $11.9 million. The private, nonprofit institute works to improve human health through interdisciplinary biomedical research in collaboration with UW–Madison.

“WARF’s tremendous support has enabled the Morgridge Institute to focus on important fundamental issues in biomedical research, while developing thriving research partnerships with UW–Madison in strategic areas,” said Morgridge Chief Executive Officer Brad Schwartz.

In support of interdisciplinary studies, $6.5 million is committed to the university’s cluster hire program (Endowment for Excellence). In addition, $2.5 million is provided in grants through WARF Accelerator, $100,000 is allocated for Wisconsin crop improvement, and $450,000 is targeted to biochemistry innovation.

As in prior years, WARF’s annual grant does not include the tens of millions of dollars in additional support WARF provides the university by covering the costs of patenting, licensing, commercialization and outreach activities. WARF’s support of these services is a unique model in higher education as the vast majority of universities around the nation must bear the cost of such expenses on their own.

Additional support is provided through the grant to the university for WiCell and WiSys operations, as well as the Law/Business Entrepreneurship Clinics on campus, among others.

About WARF
The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) helps steward the cycle of research, discovery, commercialization and investment for the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Founded in 1925 as an independent, nonprofit foundation, WARF manages more than 2,000 patents and an investment portfolio of $2.8 billion as it funds university research, obtains patents for campus discoveries and licenses inventions to industry. For more information, visit warf.org and view WARF’s Cycle of Innovation.