When Randy Nagy first envisioned a device to modernize the transport and protection of DNA samples, he already had more than two decades of experience in various aspects of DNA forensics.

Amid the mushrooming legal and scientific interest in DNA analysis, Nagy obtained a patent on his SwabSaver, and formed Fast Forward Forensics.

Then Nagy made another smart move: He contacted MERLIN Mentors, the Madison Entrepreneur Resource, Learning and Innovation Network, a source of free guidance from people who have been there, done that. MERLIN is supported by University Research Park and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, both affiliates of the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

MERLIN fills a gap in Wisconsin’s bench of business and startup advice, says director Susie Younkle. “What is unique is the depth and breadth of mentor expertise. I have 100-plus mentors, and we can provide expertise in any industry and any stage of company development. That allows us to work with a wide range of mentees, from biotech and medical products to solar energy in West Africa and cast iron skillets here in Wisconsin.” Read the full story here.