Fueling Academic Entrepreneurship

For May 8, 2019        
Hi WN@TL Fans,
We like to say that the Wisconsin Idea is in the UW’s DNA.  The only problem is, it wasn’t that way.  The founding documents of the university don’t even mention research, let alone a public service mission reaching beyond the campus.
The Morrill Land-grant Act of 1862, which the University of Wisconsin (as it was then) became the state’s recipient in 1866, did require that “An annual report shall be made regarding the progress of each college, recording any improvements and experiments made, with their cost and results, and such other matters, including State industrial and economical statistics, as may be supposed useful….”  Here was an early seed of the mission to create new know-how, and going beyond disseminating existing classical knowledge.
In 1883 the state legislature established the Wisconsin Agriculture Experiment Station,  and four years later the federal Hatch Act of 1887 began to send at least $15,000 each year to each state’s ag experiment station.  The year 1887 also coincides with the start of the tenure of geologist TC Chamberlin as UW president, and the transition of the U to a research institution.  The next 20 years saw high-impact developments in ag research such as the Babcock Milkfat test, the cold curing of cheese, and cattle-feeding studies that sped the discovery of vitamins.
The transformation also led to the evolution of a distinct third mission of public service as called out by Charles Van Hise in 1905.  In his view, the state supports the university so that “the knowledge and wisdom of the generations, as well as the achievements of today, may reach all parts of the state, thus securing larger returns from the soil, the scientific development of mineral resources, the expansion of manufacturies, the improvement of the social and economic conditions of the masses, and the enjoyment by the people of the great intellectual and moral experiences of the race.”  
I’m not sure exactly when the DNA got introduced, but that 1905 vision is a pretty clear genetic fingerprint of the Wisconsin Idea.
This week (May 8) Rock Mackie, chief innovation officer at UW Health and professor emeritus at UW-Madison, will be here to attune us to how he and his colleagues help fuel today’s university-based innovators & entrepreneurs.  Previously at WN@TL we have had splendid historical talks on Steenbock and WARF and on Link and Warfarin.  Now we get to hear how the Enterprise sails in today’s seas.
Here’s how Prof. Mackie describes his talk:
“Academic entrepreneurship is an embodiment of the Wisconsin Idea. Faculty with a more applied rather than a theoretical bent are more likely to want to see their ideas engage with society. Other forces that drive academic entrepreneurship will be be cited. Examples of UW startup companies founded by the speaker will be given along with lessons learned. Ways in which the UW can become more entrepreneurial will be discussed.”

About the Speaker:
“Rock” Mackie has a BSc in Physics (1980) from the University of Saskatchewan and a PhD in Physics (1984) from the University of Alberta. 
In 1987, he left Canada and came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and became a full professor in 1998 in the Department of Medical Physics. He was at the UW for 22 years and supervised more than 40 PhD students, co-authored more than 180 peer-reviewed publications and an inventor on 50 US patents. He has been a UW Professor Emeritus since 2012 and an Emeritus Investigator at the Morgridge Institute for Research since 2015. 
Rock Mackie has co-founded several not-for-profit and for-profit organizations. He is a co-founder and Chairman of the Board for the Center for the Assessment of Radiological Sciences (CARS), a not-for-profit organization supporting quality in radiation oncology and radiology. He was a co-founder of the Advocacy Consortium for Entrepreneurs (ACE), an independent association of faculty, staff and trainees promoting academic entrepreneurship at the UW-Madison. ACE merged with WiSolve an organization of entrepreneurial graduate student and post-doctoral trainees that also provide business consulting services. 
In 1992, he co-founded Geometrics Corporation to develop the Pinnacle radiotherapy treatment planning system based on 3D CT scans, which originated from his clinical and research work. Now owned by Philips Medical Corporation, it was once the largest selling radiation therapy treatment planning system in the world. 
In 1997, Rock co-founded TomoTherapy in 1997, a CT image-guided intensity modulated radiotherapy company and was its Chairman of the Board from founding to IPO and on to sale to Accuray Corporation in 2011. He is a co-founder and Chairman of the Board of several companies including HealthMyne, a company mining data from medical images, Asto CT, a veterinary CT scanner company, and OnLume a fluorescent-guided surgery company. He is also a board member of Shine Medical Technologies, Leo Cancer Care, and BioIonix. 
Dr. Mackie is now the Chief Innovation Officer at UW Health and the Director of the Isthmus Project, an innovation and commercialization initiative of UW Health and UW School of Medicine and Public Health.
Last week at Ohio State our UW Chancellor Becky Blank gave a speech entitled “Communicating the Value of Public Universities to a Skeptical Public.”  It’s a wide-ranging talk, but especially germane to our topic this week is that she stated that there are two big things required for the US to stay at the leading edge of the global economy:  “we need a skilled and nimble workforce; and we need to stay on the cutting edge of innovation and new technology.”  
She went on to note:  “There’s one type of institution at the center of both of those agendas:  the big research university that both educates students and that serves as an ideas factory for the nation.”  As Prof Mackie will be noting, bringing the ideas to market is an essential step in the enterprise.
You can watch the Chancellor’s whole talk here.
Next week (May 15) Elle Grevstad of Biochemistry will show us how new technologies in optics, light sources and recording devices combine to make microscopes that let us see deeper and clearer into the lives of cells and the interactions of their biochemicals.
Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab.
Thanks again!
Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension