New leaders seek to build partnerships that will help university technologies flourish

Jan. 13, 2014

by Jennifer Sereno

A new executive director and a new board chair at WiSys Technology Foundation intend to forge strong relationships throughout the UW System and statewide business community to advance the commercial potential of campus innovations.

With a strong background in technology transfer, business startups and intellectual property management, Arjun Sanga has joined WiSys as executive director. David J. Ward, CEO of NorthStar Consulting Group and a former senior vice president with UW System, has been elected to chair the board of trustees.

Arjun Sanga

Arjun Sanga

Sanga comes to nonprofit technology transfer organization from San Antonio where he served in dual roles as assistant vice president for technology transfer at UT Health Science Center San Antonio and as executive director of UT South Texas Technology Management, a regional technology transfer office serving UT Brownsville, UTSA, TSU San Marcos and Stephen F. Austin University. He previously served as associate vice chancellor for technology transfer at University of Texas System and as corporate counsel for University of Kansas Center for Research.

David J. Ward

David J. Ward

Ward brings a deep knowledge of statewide needs to the WiSys board through a distinguished career spanning multiple campuses in the UW System and a scholarly background in bond analysis and economic impact calculations. His academic posts include an early faculty position in business administration at UW Oshkosh and later, service as interim chancellor of UW-Green Bay.

WiSys is a 501(c)(3) supporting organization for UW System working with 11 comprehensive UW System four-year universities, 13 freshman-sophomore UW Colleges and the statewide UW-Extension to facilitate technology and science research, protect and generate patentable discoveries and foster the career development and scholarship of faculty, staff and students required in a knowledge-based economy. The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) supports its partner WiSys in helping it fulfill its mission.

Sanga said he has been impressed by the level of collaboration already occurring among the UW System campuses, local communities and industries ranging from health care to manufacturing.

“Given the challenges with higher education funding, universities are looking more and more at working with industry for mutual benefit and these partnerships are going to be critical going forward,” he said. “As these relationships grow, there are better opportunities for students, companies make connections that support new business formation and we gain the attention of venture capitalists and new research funding sources.”

A registered patent attorney, Sanga’s experience includes structuring contracts with technology startups that help the companies get off the ground, yet ultimately deliver value back to the university and society. Sanga said he looks forward to listening and understanding the perspectives of campus leaders and researchers throughout the state.

Sanga is a member of the Association of University Technology Managers, the National Association of College and University Attorneys and the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities. He received his law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and his bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in chemistry and computer science from the University of Washington.

Ward was born and raised in Green Bay and began his college education at the two-year UW-Green Bay Center campus, as it was then called. He completed his undergraduate degree and Ph.D. at UW–Madison. It was during his tenure as senior vice president with UW System that discussions regarding the need for an organization such as WiSys began under UW System President Katharine Lyall.

Maliyakal John, who previously served as managing director of WiSys, has joined the WARF as director of patent and market assessment. Ward joined the WiSys board of trustees in 2010 and succeeds WARF Managing Director Carl Gulbrandsen as chair. Gulbrandsen remains on the board.