UW-Madison chancellor Rebecca Blank’s Discovery 2 Product initiative, D2P, may be the catalyst to transform the university into a real economic engine, Marc Eisen writes in Isthmus.
D2P, led by start-up veteran John Biondi, has the business perspective to overcome the resistance of academics and the indifference of university administrators, say observers.
“There is still very definitely a distinct disdain for commercialization from a lot of people at the university,” Laura Strong of Madison-based Quintessence Biosciences, told the Badger Startup Conference held on campus in August.
Strong said the idea permeates campus “that research is somehow good and pure, and that development is all about money and greed.”
Eisen focuses on the promise of AB E Discovery, a company formed by UW-Madison researchers Mark Cook and Jordan Sand to commercialize their discovery of a natural protein that turns on animals’ immune systems, making unnecessary the antibiotic dosing that has been tied to the spread of dangerous drug-resistant pathogens.
Guidance by D2P has helped move the start-up toward generating revenue, says Cook.
Given the state’s 42nd ranking among states for patents issued – despite UW-Madison’s $1 billion a year in research grants -- the university needs a game-changer, Eisen writes.
“If the UW was perceived statewide as being an economic engine for this state, it probably would have been in a better position to handle the funding crisis in the last budget cycle,” said Kevin Conroy, the CEO of Madison-based Exact Sciences.