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WiSys’ new manager plans system-wide research awareness

Maliyakal John
Madison, Wis. — The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation has appointed Maliyakal John to serve as general director for the WiSys Technology Foundation, which licenses University of Wisconsin System technologies.

Founded in 2000 as a supplementary organization to WARF, UW-Madison’s technology transfer organization, WiSys serves all of the other 25 UW System campuses by protecting the inventions and research done in the system. The organization handles licensing and patent arrangements and makes sure the profits are funneled back into the university to support additional research.

“In order to move to the next level WiSys needs a full-time manager,” said Andrew Cohn, a WARF spokesperson. “[Maliyakal’s] tireless effort as a WARF employee to support WiSys [and] his dedication, experience, and interest made him the obvious choice.”

Prior to his appointment as general director, Maliyakal worked for three and a half years as an intellectual property manager in life sciences for WARF, where he worked in several areas including biotechnology, genomic research, and pharmaceuticals. He placed particular emphasis on working with the other campuses in the UW system, trying to uncover the research and build connections.

Example projects Maliyakal instituted while at WARF include last year’s launch of the WiSys “inventor mining” program, which identifies UW staff involved in commercially viable research. Since its inception, it has discovered invention plans in every area of industry, exposing a depth of research that was previously unseen.
“If you look at the other campuses the major focus is teaching, but the enthusiasm of faculty for projects is great,” Maliyakal said. “We need to begin licensing these products and show they can be a source of revenue.”

To help build this revenue in the short term, Maliyakal will be continuing the effort to license technology, advising various campuses on how to market and patent their products. As an example, Maliyakal said that they have begun negotiating with pharmaceutical companies in the effort to receive some investors for therapeutic compounds that have been developed in the system. WiSys will also be continuing their efforts to establish regional economic development centers, which would help state businesses access UW faculty and technology resources.

In the long term, Maliykal hopes to drive up the awareness of profitability among the UW campuses and get other researchers excited about the opportunities provided.

“The other campuses aren’t as involved in tech transfer [as UW-Madison],” Maliyakal said. “We need to interact in terms of patents and helping them get licensed…show the faculty that in creating innovations, it creates economic opportunities.”

According to Cohn, Maliyakal’s appointment is one that will be beneficial to both organizations. “Since he knows the WARF program so well he will be able to transfer that knowledge to the system campuses, [and] WARF will benefit because he will identify key collaborative opportunities for WARF investors.”

Les Chappell is a staff writer for WTN and can be reached at

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