MADISON – Four examples of academic innovation that could become tomorrow’s commercial successes will be unveiled Nov. 6 during the annual “First Look Forum” at the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium


The forum, developed by the UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations, is designed to give potential investors a “first look” at technologies that are the product of academic research on the campus, which conducts about $1.1 billion in sponsored research each year. This year’s lineup will include potential breakthroughs in medical imaging, biotechnology and information technology:

  • Rock Mackie and Peter Muir, “Computed tomography in the standing horse”  
  • Walter Block, “Real-time magnetic resonance imaging applications in minimally invasive procedures” 
  • James Steele, “Mining biodiversity within Lactobacillus casei for strains with health benefits”  
  • Peter Qian, “Predictive analytics software for big data simulations” 

“We want to showcase the research excellence and diversity at UW-Madison to investors while also helping researchers make connections,” said Allen Dines, assistant director for new ventures in the Office of Corporate Relations. “Investors report they find great value in meeting researchers outside fundraising situations, while researchers report they appreciate gaining a better understanding of who the investors are and how they think.” 


Produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council and its partners, the conference gives selected companies the opportunity to make presentations and meet with investors. For more information and to register, go to Previously announced speakers are:  

  • Mark Schmitz of ZEBRADOG, who will discuss how one of Wisconsin’s leading outputs – intellectual property – is coveted by companies and institutions in emerging economies that increasingly have the capital, the infrastructure and the expertise to put it to work. Schmitz will speak over lunch Nov. 5 during the annual SBIR Awards Luncheon. Luncheon sponsors are K&L Gates and the Center for Technology Commercialization.  
  • Brad Feld, an entrepreneur, investor and co-founder of the successful TechStars accelerators. Feld will speak live via telepresence to open the conference on Nov. 5. Attendees who are present for the 8:30 a.m. presentation will receive a copy of Feld’s book, “Startup Communities,” courtesy of a personal contribution from Mark Bakken, co-founder and chief executive officer of Nordic Consulting, and the Greater Madison Area Chamber of Commerce. 

The conference will also feature:  

  • Presentations by 28 companies selected for the Wisconsin Angel Network investors’ track. Investors from across Wisconsin and beyond will attend. 
  • The annual Elevator Pitch Olympics, which provide 90-second presentation opportunities for 15 or more additional companies. A panel of investors will judge the contest. 
  • A dozen panel discussions and plenary sessions covering the latest topics. 
  • Office Hours for hands-on advice to entrepreneurs. 
  • Exhibit hall showcasing more than 40 Wisconsin companies. 
  • A first-night reception, two luncheons, two breakfasts and other networking opportunities, including an investors-only dinner for registered investors.  

To learn more or to register, visit