At WARF speed
Erik Iverson takes the reins at the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
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From the pages of In Business magazine.
Contacted by a recruiting firm about an open position with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Erik Iverson, president of the Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle, felt stunned and flattered. “When WARF’s name comes up, you pay attention,” he says. “Without a doubt, UW–Madison is one of the premier institutions when it comes to commercializing technology.”
On July 1, Iverson stepped into the well-worn shoes of predecessor Carl Gulbrandsen as managing director of WARF.
He’s been preparing for this role for several years. A Fargo native, Iverson received his undergrad degree from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota. He then earned a law degree at the University of North Dakota, followed by a master’s degree in tax at New York University. After about 10 years practicing law and working on everything from estate planning to professional baseball, he gravitated into life science transactions.
At the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the world, Iverson was actively engaged in the university tech transfer system both nationally and globally. He helped grow the foundation’s life sciences and global health program and helped establish a private equity-investment arm that grew from about $400 million into what is now a $2 billion program.
Returning to the Midwest with his family in tow, Iverson looks forward to transitioning both professionally and personally, and he plans to spend this first six months learning and listening to people at WARF, the UW System, state government, and the community, as well. “I want to listen to a lot of voices from different fronts, both positive and negative.”
Recently we spoke with Iverson about his new role.
IB: Besides patents, what other ways can technology be transferred?
Iverson: Tech transfer is the ability to transfer technology from where it’s created (i.e., the university), and into something else, either a startup company or a partner.
Most people commonly think of intellectual property as patents, or trademarks, but the fourth leg is also just know-how, which is either not patentable legally or the owner or inventor elects not to seek patent coverage because at the end of the day patents become part of the public domain. So intellectual property doesn’t actually need to be a patent.