By Tom Still

Making innovative UW System and UW-Madison technologies available to industry in northeast Wisconsin was the topic of a Dec. 13 meeting of the Tech Council Innovation Network at Fox Valley Technical College.

Greg Keenan, the accelerator program manager for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and Jennifer Cook, the associate director for the WiSys Technology Foundation, walked through an overview of each organization’s portfolio of technologies available for licensing.

WARF has been the patenting and licensing arm of the UW-Madison since the 1920s. It has recently stepped up efforts to nurture its portfolio of 1,900 issued U.S. patents and 750 pending patents by working with startups, mature companies in search of innovation, investors and other partners.

WiSys performs the same functions as WARF for the UW System’s other four-year campuses except the UW-Milwaukee, which has its own research foundation. While much younger than WARF, WiSys has 73 active technologies in its portfolio and is handling more invention “disclosures” each fiscal year.

Cook described five examples of WiSys Technologies: Compostable thermostat polymers developed at UW-Stevens Point; transparent dilatant materials, also from UW-Stevens Point; an industrial furnace and oven from UW-Oshkosh; a microparticle generator for invasive species control, especially unwanted fish, from UW-Platteville; and a mechanically integrated vertical wind turbine from UW-Green Bay.

She also discussed the Wisconsin Small Company Advancement Program, a prototype center at UW-Platteville and UW-Parkside’s App Factory. The full WiSys portfolio can be viewed at http://www.wisys.org under “Take Ideas to Market.”

Keenan noted WARF is 37th in patent applications among U.S. colleges and universities, but 6th in issued patents due to the careful nature of its vetting process. Its issued and pending patents fall mostly in four categories: biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, agriculture and food, engineering and information technologies, and medical devices.

The accelerator program run by Keenan “speeds promising technologies to market by investing in proof-of-concept milestones that validate market potential, demonstrate commercial value and de-risk technology to attract industry partners or investors.”

Keenan encouraged companies and entrepreneurs to search the WARF portfolio at www.warf.org/technologies/inventions-patents-and-portfolios.cmsx and to subscribe to monthly updates at www.warf.org/for-industry/get-tech-updates/get-tech-updates.cmsx

Attendees asked about processes for licensing technologies and inquired about larger trends spotted by WARF and WiSys teams.

The meeting was produced by the Wisconsin Technology Council, which holds similar events in Madison, Milwaukee, the Chippewa Valley, northwest and, beginning in 2019, central Wisconsin. Visit www.wisconsintechnologycouncil.com to learn more.