Thomas “Rock” Mackie, a scientist and entrepreneur who leads the medical device team at the Morgridge Institute for Research, will speak over lunch Wednesday, Nov. 2, at the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium in Madison.


He will join Rich Bendis, a nationally renowned entrepreneur and investor who founded Innovation America, in addressing the first day of the annual conference at Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center.

Mackie is a UW-Madison professor of medical physics at the School of Medicine and Public Health and a professor of biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering. He brings those disciplines together as director of medical devices at the private Morgridge Institute for Research, which opened in December 2010 as part of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

An entrepreneur who understands what it takes to commercialize inventions, Mackie was co-founder and chairman of TomoTherapy Inc., a Madison-based radiation therapy company recently acquired by Accuray.

Mackie will speak during a luncheon where winners of federal Small Business Innovation Research grants will be honored for attracting those merit-based science grants to Wisconsin.

“Rock Mackie exemplifies the theme of the luncheon, which will highlight the importance of turning great research into opportunities to create companies and jobs,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, which produces the conference. “Rock Mackie has done all of the above in his career – and is poised to do more through his work at the Morgridge Institute.”

Mackie’s focus is to explore and build medical devices with the potential to treat or cure medical conditions in patients and to improve the movement of new devices from research lab to clinical use. Mackie’s plans include a facility for rapid prototyping and the launch of a medical devices consortium through partnerships with companies and academia.

Mackie grew up in Saskatoon and received his undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Saskatchewan in 1980. He went on to earn his doctorate in physics at the University of Alberta in 1984. Mackie has more than 150 peer-reviewed publications and more than 15 patents.

The 2011 conference theme is “Pulling Together for Success,” which highlights the importance of building an innovation economy through a mix of strategies. The Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium traces its roots to the Madison Venture Fair in the mid-1980s, and has been held continuously under different names for more than 25 years.

Other highlights of the conference include presentations to investors by three-dozen companies selected by the conference steering committee. Those presentations will take place Wednesday, Nov. 2, during the Wisconsin Angel Network Investors’ Track, and Thursday, Nov. 3, during the Elevator Pitch Olympics. Selected companies will be announced soon.

Other elements of the conference include an investors’ seminar hosted by the Wisconsin Angel Network, more than a dozen panel discussions, a “First Look” forum for university-based discoveries, receptions, luncheons and other networking events.


A block of hotel rooms is available at a discounted rate of $169 until Oct. 24 at the Hilton Monona Terrace, which is connected to the convention center. Please visit the Hilton Monona Terrace website to make reservations, using group code WTC1.