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First woman director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office visits for a discussion about innovation and opportunity

April 9, 2015

UW-Madison, a world leader in producing patents, will welcome Michelle K. Lee, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, on April 15 for a tour of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery and a discussion about the future of intellectual property and innovation.

In partnership with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), the private, not-for-profit foundation that manages the bulk of the university’s intellectual property portfolio, UW–Madison ranks sixth in the world for obtaining patents for new technologies.

WARF’s portfolio of more than 1,600 patented technologies covers a wide range of categories, including analytical instrumentation, pharmaceuticals, food products, agriculture, research tools, medical devices, pluripotent stem cells, clean technology, information technology and semiconductors.

WARF in recent years has expanded its efforts at supporting entrepreneurs. In partnership with UW–Madison, it launched Discovery to Product (D2P), an initiative to more effectively cultivate entrepreneurship among faculty, staff and students, and better support the formation of new companies. The project also aims to expand the number of innovations that reach the market through startups or licensing arrangements with established companies.

WARF also created the UpStart Program for Minority and Women’s Entrepreneurship, a free, 13-week course covering topics ranging from law and finance to market research, accounting and business plan basics.

Lee is the first woman to serve as director of the USPTO and is working to encourage more women to enter science and technology fields.

“At the USPTO, we have created an environment where talent can thrive and where ability leads to advancement, regardless of gender,” Lee says. “In today’s innovation-based economy, an organization can’t afford to overlook the unique talent and ingenuity that women bring to the workplace. Our nation’s economy cannot grow to its full potential unless we ensure that no innovator or entrepreneur is left behind.”

Lee’s visit to UW–Madison includes a tour of the Discovery Building, 330 N. Orchard St., which houses twin interdisciplinary research institutes: the Morgridge Institute for Research, a private, nonprofit research institute dedicated to improving human health by accelerating the process from scientific discovery to patient delivery; and the public Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, which is part of UW–Madison organized under the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education. The state-of-the-art facility brings together scientists and researchers from a broad spectrum of disciplines, such as the arts, humanities, social sciences, education, business and law. It also includes extensive public spaces in its Town Center intended to promote dialogue among the diverse parts of UW–Madison as a fertile crossroads for ideas that benefit the larger community.

The event is co-hosted by the Wisconsin Intellectual Property Law Association (WIPLA), the IP & Technology Section of the State Bar of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Chapter of the Licensing Executives Society, and co-sponsored by WARF and UW–Madison.

Journalists are welcome to join in the day’s events:

10 a.m.: Tour of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (Discovery Building)

10:30 a.m.: Press availability

11 a.m.: Reception at Atrium of Discovery Building

11:30 a.m.: Panel discussion with Director Lee at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery Forum