Carl Gulbrandsen, who grew investment programs within the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and helped make WARF a force in the state’s early stage economy, will be inducted into the Wisconsin Investor Hall of Fame during a Nov. 16 dinner tied to the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium.
Gulbrandsen was elected by a panel of nine judges that included the four past inductees: Dick Leazer, a founder of Wisconsin Investment Partners, the state’s oldest angel investment network; George Mosher, a Milwaukee “super angel” investor; Roger Ganser, a co-founder of Venture Investors LLC, the state’s oldest and largest venture capital fund; and Jeff Rusinow, founder of Silicon Pastures.
Gulbrandsen will be honored during a dinner of about 80 invited angel and venture capitalists following the first day of the Early Stage Symposium in Madison.
“WARF has patented and licensed inventions from university faculty for 90 years. Today, it’s also known for investing in some of those same innovations, most often at the earliest levels. A good deal of the credit for that goes to Gulbrandsen,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “He joins a group on honorees who helped lay the groundwork for angel and venture investing in Wisconsin today.”
Gulbrandsen joined WARF in 1997 and led the non-profit patent and licensing body as managing director from 2000 until his June 30 retirement. His tenure witnessed landmark scientific discoveries, the opening of the Discovery Institute and record-setting investment by WARF in UW-Madison, made possible by a doubling of WARF’s investment portfolio to nearly $2.7 billion during that time.
In the wake of recession and growing reluctance on the part of established companies to take risks on young technologies, WARF took on a stronger role in fostering entrepreneurism. That included growth of WARF’s direct investment program to more than 40 companies.
Gulbrandsen also helped create 4490 Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund co-founded by the State of Wisconsin Investment Board. Another initiative during his time is Discovery to Product, which provides mentorship to enterprising faculty, staff and students. The WARF Accelerator Program, also launched under Gulbrandsen, empowers inventors with the funding and expertise to leverage industry.
The dinner, sponsored by Baird Capital and SquareOne Bank, is produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council’s Investor Network. Formerly known as the Wisconsin Angel Network, the Tech Council Investor Network works with the state’s angel groups as well as early stage funds and other investors. The Investor Hall of Fame award is one of many conference features. Other highlights unveiled so far:
- Remarks at the Wisconsin W·O·M·E·N reception the evening of Nov. 15 by Eve Hall, the president of the African-American Chamber of Commerce. The reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the meeting space at M3 Insurance, 828 John Nolen Drive. Register here for this separate event.
- Nov. 16 panel discussion entitled “Invest in the Midwest: How regional funds view Wisconsin.”
- Experts from leading national law firms and funds will take part in “A national view: Trends in early stage investing,” 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 17.
- Remarks 1 p.m. Nov. 17 by Jack Salzwedel, chief executive officer and president of American Family Insurance and a community innovation leader.
- The Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education award, which will go to Jan Eddy.
Registration is open at www.wisearlystage.com. The conference will also feature:
- Presentations by 50 companies in two investor-focused tracks.
- A new “Investor Intros” speed-dating segment on Thursday, Nov. 17.
- “Office Hours,” which are small-group meetings with subject experts on a mix of topics.
- SBIR/STTR awards luncheon to recognize grant recipients from the past year.
- The “First Look” forum featuring selected campus-based technologies.
- Exhibit hall showcasing more than 40 Wisconsin companies.
The Tech Council produces the conference. Sponsors so far include: 100State; Aberdean; Adana Holdings; Advanced Materials Industrial Consortium; Alliant Energy; American Family Insurance; American Transmission Co.; AT&T; Aurora Research Institute; Baird Capital; Baker Tilly; BDO; BloodCenter of WI; BMO Harris Bank; Boardman & Clark; Carroll University; City of Fitchburg; Concordia University; Cresa Madison; Dane County Regional Airport; Dedicated Computing; Enbridge; Findorff; First Business Bank; Fluno Center; Functional Biosciences; Godfrey & Kahn; HealthX Ventures; HP Enterprise Services; Husch Blackwell; Madison College; Madison Gas & Electric; Makin HEY! Communications; Marquette University; Marshfield Clinic; Medical College of Wisconsin – OTD; Michael Best; Midwest Prototyping; Morgridge Institute; Murphy Desmond S.C.; N29 Capital Partners; Neider & Boucher; NEW Capital Fund; New Glarus Brewing Company; Perkins Coie; PreventionGenetics; Promega Corp.; Quarles & Brady; Red Arrow Production; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.; Skyward; Smith & Gesteland; Square 1 Bank; State of Wisconsin Investment Board; Summit Credit Union; University Research Park; UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations; UW-Milwaukee Research Foundation; Venture Investors; Veritas; Wells Fargo; WERCBench Labs; Whitewater University Technology Park; WIPFLI; Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing & Productivity; Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.; Wisconsin Health & Educational Facility Authority; WTN Media; Ziegler
Learn more and register at www.wisearlystage.com.