John Biondi to Step Down as Director of UW’s Discovery to Product

[Updated 8/2/17 2:29 p.m. See below.] John Biondi, who since 2014 has directed Discovery to Product—a program that helps students, faculty, and staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison turn ideas into companies—says he’s leaving the organization later this month.

Biondi’s last day will be Aug. 31, he says in an interview with Xconomy.

“We have an incredible number of great ideas here at the University of Wisconsin, many of which can become products, companies, and jobs in Wisconsin,” he says.

Andrew Richards will serve as the interim director of Discovery to Product (D2P) starting next month, according to a UW-Madison spokeswoman. Richards is chief of staff for Marsha Mailick, the university’s vice chancellor for research and graduate education. [This paragraph has been updated with information from UW-Madison.]

UW-Madison and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), an independent organization that manages patents and licensing of intellectual property for the university, put forth $1.6 million apiece in late 2013 to create D2P. Biondi was brought on to direct the program not long after. WARF is among the oldest and most successful university-affiliated technology commercialization offices in the U.S. However, some professors and leaders at UW-Madison have said the university could do more to support tech transfer.

D2P is housed at @1403, an on-campus building that in 2015 was rebranded as a hub for entrepreneurs. The startups that have been formed with assistance from D2P include Stem Pharm, Xemex, and Kiince.

Biondi says that following his departure from D2P, he will spend more time working on The Cider Farm, a business he runs with his wife Deirdre Birmingham. The couple grows apples on their farm in Mineral Point, WI, and turns them into brandy and ciders.

“I’ll just commit myself to [The Cider Farm] for some time and may pick up some other things as I go forward,” Biondi says.

Biondi says he’s planning to keep his head down tying up loose ends over the next few weeks. He’ll look back on his time leading D2P fondly, he says.

“Working with innovators here on campus has been a great experience,” Biondi says. “Hopefully after I’m gone, the university will continue to focus on that and keep the program going.”

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