Veteran entrepreneur named to direct Discovery to Product initiative at UW-Madison

March 11, 2014

by David Tenenbaum

John Biondi, a Wisconsin entrepreneur with extensive experience in early-stage high-technology companies in the state, has been named the first director of Discovery to Product (D2P), a new UW-Madison project to accelerate the formation of businesses based on discoveries at the Madison campus.

"In John Biondi, we think we have found just the fit for our new D2P enterprise," says UW-Madison Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate School Dean Martin Cadwallader. "He has the experience and knowledge to help move our university forward in the area of technology transfer. We believe he will be able to work very well with the entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs in our community and increase the number of spinoffs and mature technologies ripe for commercialization."

Biondi has raised almost $60 million for nine early-stage ventures, in such areas as nanotechnology instruments, industrial biotechnology, medical devices and software, and advanced materials. Biondi's particular strengths are in early- stage strategy, business and revenue models, and maximizing market penetration with minimal investment.

D2P is a partnership between UW-Madison and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. Inaugurated last November, the program is focused on creating more commercialization from the entrepreneurship already present on campus. While UW-Madison students, staff and faculty have spawned ventures like Epic, Electronic Theatre Controls and Promega, D2P aims to accelerate the pace and quantity of such company formation by cultivating a stronger commercial culture surrounding innovation and entrepreneurship at all levels on campus.

D2P will support the formation of new companies and expand the number of innovations that reach the market through startups or licensing arrangements with established companies.

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank has identified entrepreneurship and commercialization as a major emphasis for her tenure at Madison. The D2P program will primarily focus on traditional UW-Madison strengths: physical sciences and engineering, agriculture, medical devices, computer science and information technology, and drug development.

"I have been involved with projects and companies in each of D2P’s key technology areas," says Biondi. "For any specific technology, the key challenge is to develop a market model and a revenue model that can move the technology forward. In my past positions, I would tell my technology people, 'It's never about the technology, it's always about the market.' I was half kidding, but only half. What you need is an ability to connect the technology to the market. That's what commercialization is all about."

Biondi begins his new role on March 17 and will report to the vice chancellor for research.