Ahead of WARF Keynote, Gigaom’s Reese Talks Academia’s Startup Push

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had an endowment of $2.6 billion as of mid-2017.  Since WARF’s founding in 1925, it has provided more than $2.6 billion in grant funding to UW-Madison and the university-affiliated Morgridge Institute for Research.

But even with a strong track record and plenty of financial muscle, WARF has signaled that it intends to wade deeper into venture capital investing, an area that has lots of buzz but also carries significant risk.

In August 2017, WARF said it planned to create two new venture funds and invest a combined $60 million in startups affiliated with UW-Madison by 2025. At that time, WARF managing director Erik Iverson also unveiled a $50 million initiative aimed at commercializing UW-Madison research and discoveries related to drugs and biologics, which he said represented more than two-thirds of WARF’s patent portfolio.

At WARF Innovation Day next week, leaders at the organization will tell investors, entrepreneurs, and others in attendance how it’s working to bring technologies developed on UW-Madison’s campus from labs and classrooms into the marketplace. The efforts researchers plan to highlight include development of artificial blood vessels and new methods for synthesizing peptides and sorting cancer immunotherapy cells.

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