Wisconsin Medical Entrepreneurship Foundation to link UW System research expertise with state's leading medical institutions

October 25, 2010

Effort seeks to accelerate technology development and commercialization of promising products

Designed to speed medical innovation, advance patient care and boost entrepreneurship, the new Wisconsin Medical Entrepreneurship Foundation aims to connect research expertise in the UW System with the state’s leading patient care providers.

The initiative, announced Monday at Aurora Medical Center in the village of Summit in Waukesha County, results from growing recognition of challenges and opportunities associated with the development and testing of medical devices, therapies and pharmaceuticals. Founding partners include Aurora Health Care, Marshfield Clinic, BayCare Health Systems and WiSys Technology Foundation, the technology transfer organization serving all UW System campuses other than Madison and Milwaukee.

"Given the complexities of modern medical technologies, it has become increasingly difficult for individual institutions to take on the risks and expenses associated with bringing new ideas to the market,’’ said Maliyakal John, Ph.D., managing director of WiSys Technology Foundation. “Through the Wisconsin Medical Entrepreneurship Foundation, we are able to take advantage of the shared wisdom and resources of the UW System and the state’s most experienced medical providers.’’

Together, the founding organizations bring more than 3,400 professionals under the consortium umbrella. Physicians, nurses and other experts in the clinical settings are expected to contribute and ultimately validate ideas that require the expertise of UW faculty members in computer aided design, nanotechnology, engineering, drug design, chemistry and molecular biology.

Wisconsin companies will get priority to market technologies created by the consortium. In addition, the work of the consortium is expected to result in internships and training opportunities in clinical sciences for students from partner organizations.

"The Wisconsin Medical Entrepreneurship Foundation represents an exciting new path forward in technology development and commercialization,’’ said Randall Lambrecht, Ph.D., vice president of research and academic relations, Aurora Health Care. “The people and the communities we serve ultimately will share the benefits of this important initiative.’’

Robert Carlson, M.D., director of applied sciences for Marshfield Clinic Applied Sciences, said the Wisconsin Medical Entrepreneurship Foundation’s approach is consistent with Marshfield’s mission of enhanced patient care through technological innovation.

"In addition to helping patients, improving the state’s technology base creates desirable jobs that will provide more opportunities for our college graduates,’’ Carslon said. “The unique nature of the Wisconsin Medical Entrepreneurship Foundation also should increase our competitiveness in attracting federal research grants and programs, which will in turn benefit university faculty members and staff. ’’

Paul Summerside, M.D., chief medical officer, BayCare Health Systems, and an early proponent of the consortium, said members of BayCare’s physician group welcome the opportunity to collaborate with UW faculty and students in research and entrepreneurial opportunities.

"The Wisconsin Medical Entrepreneurship Foundation partners are known for the quality of care they provide and the experienced physicians and nurses have innovative ideas that could provide additional benefits to patients,’’ Summerside said. “With the collaboration of expert faculty members, more of these ideas will become reality.’’

Additional benefits of the consortium include shared access to skilled physicians and clinical settings needed to validate prototypes as well as resources such as large biosample collections; electronic medical records; genetic and hereditary information; and clinical trial expertise. Projects already in progress include medical devices, novel therapeutics, computer software and hardware and biomarkers.

About the Wisconsin Medical Entrepreneurship partners:

  • WiSys Technology Foundation works with faculty and students at UW System campuses other than Madison and Milwaukee to facilitate technology transfer, protect patentable discoveries and foster the career development and scholarship required for today’s knowledge-based economy. For more, visit www.wisys.org.

  • Aurora Health Care is an integrated health care provider operating 15 hospitals and 155 clinics with 1,400 employed physicians and a total of 30,000 caregivers in eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. For more, visit www.aurorahealthcare.org.

  • BayCare Clinic is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in Northeast Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, with more than 100 board certified or board eligible specialty physicians with expertise in more than 20 specialties. For more, visit www.baycare.net.

  • Marshfield Clinic’s commitment to innovation is embraced by its 775 physicians in 80 medical specialties and subspecialties located in 52 locations throughout northern, central and western Wisconsin. For more, visit www.marshfieldclinic.org

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