UW honors noted entrepreneurs with achievement awards

May 4, 2015

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Entrepreneurial Achievement Awards this year honor a graduate of the Department of Computer Sciences who co-founded the company that’s now WebMD, and a Department of Animal Sciences professor who has turned his patented technologies into startup companies.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank presented the awards Thursday at a dinner at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

“At UW, we take our role in fostering entrepreneurship very seriously. Major research universities are at the heart of what keeps our economy competitive. Through basic research, we discover new ideas. By fostering innovation and providing excellent education, we help shape a skilled and nimble workforce. And by fostering and encouraging entrepreneurship, we help leaders take risks, go after their vision, and bring their dreams to the world,” Blank said.

The 2015 recipients of the UW–Madison Entrepreneurial Achievement Awards are:

Mark E. Cook

Cook accepted a position as assistant professor at UW–Madison in 1983, became an associate professor in 1990 and a full professor in 1992. He is currently on the faculty of the Department of Animal Sciences, directs the Poultry Research Institute at UW–Madison, and holds affiliate appointments in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, Department of Food and Microbiology, and the Molecular and Environmental Toxicology Center. He has authored or coauthored more than 95 peer reviewed articles and has been involved in in national news coverage of his research.

Cook holds patents involving four technological areas, including a technology that improves animal growth and feed efficiency around which he founded successful spinoff Aova Technologies in 2001. Cook also co-founded Isomark LLC, for the early detection of infectious disease using biomarkers in breath. The company’s goal is to help health care providers achieve a critical need for earlier and more accurate diagnostic techniques.

Several of Cook’s inventions are being pursued by Wisconsin companies.

Pavan Nigam

Nigam is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor, and the founding partner of Inspovation Ventures. Previously, he was the chairman and CEO of Cendura Corporation, which he co-founded in 2002. He grew the company into one of the market leaders for data center automation software with an installed base that included several Fortune 500 companies. Prior to that, he co-founded Healtheon (now WebMD) in 1996, and served as its chief technology officer. During his tenure, Pavan led the company’s transformation from a concept to the world’s largest e-health company, approaching $1 billion in annual revenues, more than 8,000 employees, and several billion in market capitalization.

Prior to WebMD, Pavan worked at Silicon Graphics, where he was the general manager for the company’s Interactive Media Group and was responsible for deploying Time Warner’s Interactive TV project in Orlando, Florida. Before that, he was employed by Intel Corporation, where he led several microprocessor software teams.

Past winners of the award include: Judy Faulkner, who founded Epic Systems in 1979; James Weinert, who endowed the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship and created Weinert Applied Ventures in Entrepreneurship; Jon Hammes, chairman and chief executive officer of Hammes Company, which has been involved in the development of sports facilities such as UW–Madison’s Kohl Center; Elisa All, founder and president of 30Second Mobile; Michael Shannon, founder and managing director of KSL Capital Partners; and Sheldon Lubar, founder and chairman of Lubar & Co., a Milwaukee-based private investment firm active in corporate acquisitions and venture capital investment.