How the Forward BIO Institute Continues to Drive Biomanufacturing Innovation
Despite the disruption of on-campus research, the Institute’s Catapult programs have made impressive progress in advancing their technologies and therapies towards market. Collaboration with our Innovate Network partners has ensured consistent forward progress of these groundbreaking biomanufacturing innovations. This year, two projects have completed D2P's 5-week Invention to Market (I2M) program , with additional projects also completing D2P’s 8-week I gnitor program , and the Center for Commercialization’s four-week SBIReady bootcamp. This quarter we are meeting with diverse teams across campus to actively scout for our new cohort of Catapult Projects.
The Forward BIO Institute’s Innovators in Training (IIT) program has pivoted to a fully virtual platform. Designed and led by Phil Keegan, the Institute’s Public-Private Partnership Lead, and John Krutty, Innovation Associate, the re-imagined IIT program offers bi-weekly professional education seminars on a host of topics from analyzing the current FDA perspectives on cell and gene therapies to researching value propositions and business strategies of successful biotherapeutic companies. The Forward BIO Institute has also founded the Alternative Career Path Seminar, a monthly series where invited non-academic professionals t o discuss their roles, responsibilities, and professional journey.
Throughout this quarter, Institute staff have been engaging directly with the Forward BIO Consortium members in diverse efforts related to the impact of the pandemic. In addition to identifying federal grant opportunities for our Consortium members, we have supported COVID-related technology development efforts by facilitating campus connectivity and leveraging our extended networks. With limitations on industry partners' ability to conduct in-person student recruitment, we have also worked to understand new avenues to facilitate student connectivity to careers within our partners’ organizations.
Office of Business Engagement Launches Platform
for Coordinated External Engagement at UW-Madison
In mid-March, the Office of Business Engagement kicked off a project to develop and launch UW’s first external-facing instance of Salesforce. Under the supervision of Amy Achter, Managing Director and Megan O’Rourke, Business Engagement Director, OBE collaborated with Huron, external implementation partner to construct a Salesforce instance to efficiently and effectively manage strategic partnerships by connecting UW external relations professionals and providing a platform for collaboration and information sharing. The result is less overlap and more development of strategic plans that span schools, colleges, institutes, and other UW units, all of whom are looking to engage more with external partners.

While the majority of these partners are companies, as the project progressed, the team recognized the opportunity to include partnerships with legislative districts and community organizations – also external relationships that require much of the same relationship management

Salesforce supports a wide range of activities, including strategic prospecting, state outreach, identification of new opportunities, as well as on-demand, comprehensive reporting of sponsored research, talent recruitment / professional development, and philanthropic engagements, enabling UW to be more nimble and responsive to our partners. Additionally, having all the information we need in one place provides UW users with visibility to a company’s prior campus engagements, including campus contacts who may be able to help other units with introductions or to better understand an existing relationship. 

After 3 months of entirely virtual work, the Strategic Partnerships instance of Salesforce officially launched on June 15. The Forward BIO Institute joined 35 other users representing 14 schools, colleges, units, and institutes. This first cohort of organizations to integrate the tool into operational structure cover functional areas including career services/employer relations, community and state relations, data science and analytics, professional development and entrepreneurship. A second wave of users will be onboarded in August, with a goal of between 50-60 users by end of 2020.

To learn more about the Office of Business Engagement, visit their website. Also, if you think your UW unit can benefit from being a part of this Salesforce instance, contact the team to request an account at

Inside WARF & the Forward BIO Institutes New Working Group 
Expanding on the strong relationship with the WARF Accelerator program, a meeting in February established a formal, coordinated partnership: the WARF-Forward BIO Institute Working Group. Led by Beth Werner, WARF’s Director of Life Sciences IP, and Cathy Rasmussen, the Forward BIO Institute’s Assistant Director, the Working Group serves as a bi-directional conduit for rapid communication and coordination between the two organizations. This collaboration connects the Forward BIO Institute together with the WARF Accelerator Program, WARF Ventures, WARF Therapeutics, and WARF’s diverse expertise of Intellectual Property and Licensing Managers.

The Institute’s Catapult program is uniquely poised to scout and identify new IP, advocate for timely disclosures to WARF, and help tee up and manage programs through the Accelerator pipeline. Similarly, WARF’s organization-wide engagement with the Working Group accelerates translation of Catapult projects by enhancing customer discovery, market research, and competitive intelligence. The working group also connects the Institute Industry Consortium with WARF’s industry connections to develop an even stronger network of industry partners. 

Beth’s stewardship of the Working Group also provides a new opportunity for the Institute’s Innovators in Training. She directs the WARF Ambassador program; a 10 year program where WARF trains students and post-doctoral fellows in the basics of intellectual property protection and technology transfer in exchange for Ambassadors enhancing the visibility of WARF on campus Ambassadors lead WARF engagement events, answer basic questions about technology transfer and serve as a direct connection to WARF’s IP and licensing staff. Beth adds “we’re always looking for outgoing graduate students who show an interest in commercial applications of science, and I’m excited to have Forward Bio Institute’s Innovators in Training program as a potential pool of new WARF Ambassador candidates. I’m proud that a number of our WARF Ambassadors have gone on to have careers in patent law both in law firms and at companies, technology scouting, and technology transfer due, in part, to the strong scientific education they received at UW-Madison and the experience they gained as WARF Ambassadors.”
“We at WARF are excited about this Working Group leading to a deeper connection between WARF and Forward BIO Institute. There is a lot of overlap between the goals of the two organizations, especially around technology development and commercialization, and we hope to learn more about the technologies they select as Catapult projects and how they create development plans for these technologies. By coordinating our resources in technology development and our connections in industry, the Working Group should become a vital resource for technology commercialization at UW-Madison.”   
- Beth Werner, Director of Life Sciences Intellectual Property, WARF

The Working Group collaboration will capitalize on the tremendous capacity for scientific discovery, transformative research advances, and technological innovation in biomanufacturing already present at UW-Madison. Together, the collective pool of resources between the Forward BIO Institute and WARF will be critical for tackling the significant challenges and risks of commercializing gene, cell, and tissue therapies. 

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