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Lots to like about new UW post

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Michael Zorniak, a graduate student at UW-Madison, looks through a flask containing cells from brain tumors. He works in a lab studying the role of cancer stem cells in tumor recurrence. State and university officials are wise to team on the effort to bring more discoveries to the marketplace.

The Republicans in charge of the state Capitol last year cut a bunch of administrative positions at the University of Wisconsin System.

But this one they should like. And so should all of Wisconsin.

The new job of associate vice president for economic development — jointly funded by the System and the state Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation — suggests university and state institutions are cooperating more to improve Wisconsin's economy.

That's important after a bruising year in state politics, which included Gov. Scott Walker and former UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin's failed attempt to split UW-Madison out of the System.

The System announced this week it had hired David A. Brukardt, a Wisconsin native, for the job of boosting connections between university researchers and business people across the state.

Brukardt brings two decades of experience to the post related to banking, business development and global connections.

Wisconsin has a lot of brain power and exciting research at campuses across the state. Wisconsin ranks high for federal research dollars and patents.

Where our state needs to improve is at moving those strong and innovative ideas into the marketplace. That will require more private investment, but also renewed focus, coordination and encouragement.

"UW System is one of Wisconsin's biggest economic development assets," said Paul Jadin, CEO and secretary of the WEDC, who is just returning from China with a state delegation that includes UW-Madison Chancellor David Ward. "This is a much needed partnership."

UW System supports 26 campuses and UW-Extension. The impact of Brukardt's efforts — in and far beyond Madison — will be interesting to watch.

Wisconsin has a lot going for it, despite the slow economic recovery and lingering unemployment. More cooperation between the state and university on turning great ideas into start-up companies with innovative products is welcome.


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