Tech Transfer eNews Blog

UW-Madison unites entrepreneurship efforts with the Innovate Network

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: July 8th, 2020

The University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison has launched an initiative aimed at uniting a range of programs across campus to boost innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Innovate Network brings together more than a dozen efforts including the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), the University Research Park, the Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic, and the start-up hub Transcend UW. Each program has long worked to help students, staff and faculty to bring their discoveries to market, but since they operate independently, there are sometimes redundancies and gaps in their collective efforts.

The Innovate Network’s goals are to more efficiently coordinate UW-Madison’s entrepreneurial activities, promote a stronger culture of innovation on campus, and strengthen the ties between the university and Madison’s larger start-up ecosystem.

“I know the university is sometimes seen as this place unto itself, and what we’re trying to do is say that’s not the case,” says Andrew Richards, director of the university’s Discovery to Product (D2P) program, which is overseeing the new initiative. “We’re trying to blur these lines, particularly around start-ups and entrepreneurs and innovators, so that the resources of the university become the resources for the community, and [vice versa].”

Richards points to the new startup FoodChain as a success story in that regard. Co-founder Ben Winters received support from UW-Madison’s School of Business, but he also credits guidance from D2P, the Small Business Development Center, the Center for Dairy Research and the Center for Integrated Agriculture Systems for helping him grow his business along the way. FoodChain is now based at StartingBlock, a start-up hub in Madison.

“We can’t keep businesses if we don’t have a really successful entrepreneurial community,” Richards says. “At the same time, the community needs the talent and the research we have here on campus. So the two really just have to work well together.”

Source: Madison Magazine

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