05 Oct A look under the hood at WARF and Wisconsin tech boom from Minnesota perspective
Photo by Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune
MADISON – There was a time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison when starting a company ranked somewhere between gambling and arms dealing.
Faculty members shunned entrepreneurship because it seemed to conflict with the school’s true mission of conducting research and educating students, a debate that still rages at schools across the country, including the University of Minnesota.
“Prior to 1992, very few faculty started companies,” said Thomas (Rock) Mackie, chairman and co-founder of TomoTherapy Inc., who still teaches medical physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “It was almost frowned upon. But now it’s actively encouraged.”
What changed? Experts point to a number of factors — luck, generous tax credits, research breakthroughs. But say ”innovation” in Madison and one word repeatedly surfaces: WARF.
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