Accelerating UW-Madison discoveries on the path to commercialization: The WARF Accelerator Program

As part of their ongoing mission to support scientific research within the UW–Madison community, and translate innovation to the marketplace, WARF manages a technology development program called the WARF Accelerator Program. This program invests in proof-of-concept milestones that validate market potential, demonstrate commercial value, and de-risk technology to attract industry partners or investors. In 2018-2019 alone, the program awarded over $2.4 million to help inventors bridge the oft-described “valley of death” through developing prototypes, executing critical field trials, assessing markets, determining customer requirements, and identifying collaborators and potential investors. The program market focus areas include computer science and engineering, clean technology, food and agriculture, healthcare, and research tools.

Greg Keenan presenting on the WARF Accelerator process at the Forward BIO Institute Annual Member Meeting

“The WARF Accelerator Program is an important resource for UW inventors. They provide support for technical de-risking that is generally not available from any other funding source.” -Bill Murphy, Director of the Forward BIO Institute

The Accelerator Program employs a staged project management process to guide technology innovation from opportunity identification, through late stage marketing and licensing opportunities. The Forward BIO Institute and the WARF Accelerator program have established a new partnership leveraging both organizations’ phase-based and comprehensive project management structures.

“We are excited to work with the Forward BIO Institute in supporting the commercialization of biomanufacturing technologies from UW-Madison. Through the complementary resources provided by the Forward BIO Institute we can more effectively support the biomanufacturing projects in the WARF Accelerator portfolio.” – Greg Keenan

Keenan, the manager of the WARF Accelerator Program continues, “The Catapult Program works with our project teams to help them formulate a value proposition and establish a business case that informs the project milestones and justifies funding. Also, the Forward BIO Institute provides our project teams with connectivity and access to leading companies in biomanufacturing through their network of industry partners. These partners, and potential future customers, are a fantastic resource for our project teams as they develop their technologies and refine their business models.” As Murphy reiterates, “We at the Forward BIO Institute are very fortunate to be able to partner with the WARF Accelerator program to convert groundbreaking discoveries into realistic societal benefit.”