Discovery to Product (D2P) is a new, major partnership between UW-Madison and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) that is focused on entrepreneurship and building on a long history of collaboration by the University and WARF to move UW-Madison technology and innovation to market.


Our mission is to enable innovations arising from the UW-Madison campus to deliver greater societal benefits and increased real-world impact; to expand the number of products, companies and jobs created by these innovations in Wisconsin and the world; and to further the long term growth in University income received from these innovations that can be used to fuel future innovation.

As a campus-based commercialization program, D2P provides essential resources to early stage projects conceived by UW faculty, staff, or students. D2P provides resources such as mentorship opportunities, potential grant funding, early stage idea validation, and a fully encompassing education around what it means to be a lean startup. These resources are meant to foster innovation on the UW campus and are geared to spark creativity and commercialization efforts in the startup community.

The following principles guide our operations and decision making:

  • We exist to benefit UW-Madison and the State of Wisconsin, which guides all our decisions;
  • We are lean; built for speed;
  • We design our approaches with a clear understanding of the needs of our stakeholders;
  • We serve as a point of contact, which means we must act in partnership with all components of the internal and external entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison’s research preeminence is demonstrated by a ranking among the top five universities nationwide for federal research funding for nearly three decades.

WARF, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, was the world's first licensing agency at a public university when it was established in 1925. It has a long and distinguished record of successfully moving technology to market based on patenting and licensing innovations from the university, including:

  • Hundreds of active commercial licenses for UW–Madison innovations.
  • More than 50 startups have attracted more than $800 million in investment capital over the last decade alone.
  • More than $1 billion in grant support for UW–Madison from technology commercialization.
  • Full-service patenting and licensing shop for innovators at UW–Madison.

At University Research Park, established in 1984, about 70 percent of the companies in the park are linked in some way to UW–Madison. More than 100 companies in 32 buildings employ between 3,500 and 4,000 people, with an estimated annual payroll of almost $250 million. In 2006, the park, directly and indirectly, contributed an estimated $680 million to Wisconsin’s economy.

Despite a long and very successful history of technology transfer, UW–Madison seeks to improve its record and continue to leverage its intellectual resources in the interest of economic development. The advent of D2P promises to help keep Wisconsin on the cutting edge of technology transfer by sustaining the flow of ideas to market.

Success Stories

Our team


John Biondi
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Discovery to Product (D2P) Director John Biondi is a veteran entrepreneur with extensive experience in early-stage high technology companies. He has raised more than $60 million for nine early-stage ventures in areas such as nanotechnology, medical devices, biotechnology, software and advanced materials. He has experience in early-stage strategy, business and revenue models and optimizing market share with minimal investment.

Trevor M. Twose,
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Trevor Twose is a mentor-in-residence at Discovery to Product (D2P), advising pre-commercial life science projects. He is a serial entrepreneur with more than 30 years experience in the pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, and biotechnology sectors in large and small companies, including several startups and development stage companies. He was most recently founder of Madison-based Mithridion, specializing in Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia drug development. As CFO, he played pivotal roles in the IPOs on Nasdaq and LSE of UK-based biopharma Xenova. He was co-founder of ICI/Cellmark Diagnostics, which became a world leader in human identification with DNA fingerprinting technology from Leicester University, UK. A past winner of the Governor’s Business Plan competition, Twose served on the board of BioForward, Thrive, and the UK National BioIndustry Association.

David Ertl
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David Ertl is a product manager and strategist with more than 15 years of experience in the high-tech industry. After founding a startup while in college, he earned an international MBA and started his career as a financial analyst in Silicon Valley. He continued his career with IBM in Austin, Texas where he shifted focus from finance into product management & strategy. During his tenure at IBM and Sage Software, Mr. Ertl launched and managed software products and portfolios, ranging in size from startup to more than $100 million in revenue. As such, Mr. Ertl brings deep practical experiences to his role as mentor at D2P.

Adam Sherman,
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Adam Sherman augments the D2P team with his experience as a litigation attorney and his academic foundation in accounting and finance. From 2006 through 2012, Mr. Sherman practiced as a litigation attorney in Miami, Florida developing the strong analytical, problem-solving skills integral in the development of the company’s growth strategy and product implementation. Additionally, with a masters degree in accounting and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin School of Busines, specialized in corporate finance and investment banking, Mr. Sherman provides sound strategic guidance, grounded in sound financial valuation and analysis. As a result, Mr. Sherman combines the skills that he honed through his unique background in law, accounting, and finance to provide well rounded support toward the commercialization of D2P’s start-up projects.

Will Robus
Project Manager
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Will Robus rounds out the D2P team with a diverse entrepreneurial and over 10 years experience with research and development projects at UW-Madison.  Mr. Robus is also co-founder & COO of Little Green Pencil, which provides golf outings with tools to improve engagement, communication, and fundraising. Little Green Pencil was a finalist in the 2014 Wisconsin Governors Business Plan Competition.  Prior to joining D2P, Mr. Robus was a project manager at the UW-Madison, Space, Science, & Engineering Center where he oversaw remote sensing instrumentation, field, and facility projects.

Robert Pozner
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Robert Pozner has spent more than 35 years in the creation, development, and commercialization value chain for innovations in broad technology platforms, including biotechnology, analytical instrumentation, computer science, electrical engineering, IT, mechanical engineering, advanced materials, medical devices, pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, chemistry, and chemical engineering. With functional experience in R&D, product management, sales and marketing, strategic planning, IP management, and partnership development, Robert is the co-founder of an IT start-up and has been involved in the formation and development of more than 25 companies based on innovations created in labs at major U.S. research universities.


Leigh Cagan

Chief technology commercialization officer at WARF, has more than 25 years experience in licensing management and technology commercialization at university startups and large and small companies.

Brian Fox

Interim associate vice chancellor for research at UW-Madison, is a professor of biochemistry. He studies enzymes and catalytic reactions. Federal grants, foundations and industry sponsors fund his research program.

Denise Ney

Professor of Nutritional Sciences at UW-Madison.  Prof. Ney’s research focus, as funded by federal grants and foundations, is gastrointestinal physiology, bone health and the nutritional management of the genetic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU).  She holds a licensed patent for Glycomacropeptide Medical Foods for PKU and conducts research to develop glycomacropeptide food products for the promotion of women’s health.

Paul Shain

President and CEO of Singlewire Software, a Madison, Wis. software company that develops emergency notification, paging and broadcast systems for health care, education and commercial applications. Previously, he served as CEO of Berbee Information Networks Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of CDW Corp. in Madison.