A six-figure investment in a Wisconsin startup marks the latest effort by Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the nation’s oldest technology transfer office, to adapt to the changing innovation landscape. The investment, from the new WARF Ventures project, will help PROMISS Diagnostics in Milwaukee advance a technology to diagnose ovarian cancer from blood samples.

PROMISS has licensed a WARF patent related to using machine learning to distinguish benign from malignant ovarian masses. The investment will fund retrospective clinical studies at Midwest hospitals and research institutions, and an FDA pre-submission application. “The initial study showed that the technology works but now we need to optimize it using different hospitals data,” says founder and CEO Jalal Sulaiman.

WARF has prospered for nine decades by licensing patents earned by UW–Madison inventors, delivering the 2019 dollar equivalent of $2.7 billion to fund the university. But “get-patent-and-license” is no longer the only way to earn money for WARF and its beneficiary, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, says Mike Partsch, WARF’s new chief venture officer.

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