By Tech Council President Tom Still and UW-River Falls Chancellor Dean Van Galen
The Wisconsin Idea is traditionally understood to mean the boundaries of the University of Wisconsin extend to the boundaries of the state, a philosophy that knowledge should be shared with communities in ways that directly benefit them. Historically, for many Wisconsinites, the University of Wisconsin only meant UW-Madison. Through its commitment to promoting that university’s discoveries, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation – WARF – is one of the primary catalysts for advancing the entrepreneurial side of the Wisconsin Idea.
Increasingly, the Wisconsin Idea has translated into an innovation mindset that extends beyond Madison to UW-Milwaukee and the 11 UW regional comprehensive campuses, which primarily provide undergraduate and master’s degree programs in smaller, more individualized settings.
That’s why today the concept of innovation and the Wisconsin Idea applies to all regions of our state. It is especially powerful at the comprehensive campuses embedded in communities across Wisconsin.
At the Wisconsin Technology Council, several of the corporate members have ties to UW-Madison, either in their initial formation, or over time as research partners. Many were apples that fell close to the tree. About 300 companies have spun off the UW-Madison campus and most have planted roots within a 30-mile radius.
The “falling apple” theory holds true whether you’re at UW-River Falls, UW-Platteville or UW-Oshkosh. The chances are that any companies emerging from our regional comprehensive campuses will take root within a half-hour’s drive, a phenomenon being demonstrated across Wisconsin.
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View the entire Wisconsin Idea Series here.