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Mar 22, 201811:44 AMOpen Mic

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UW-industry partnerships yield better solutions

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One of the founders of Ab E Discovery was the late Mark Cook. A passionate professor of animal science, Mark was skilled at challenging the status quo and pushing for answers. He partnered with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation on some 50 U.S. patents and more than 150 international patents, and he started several companies.

Mark took a challenge from industry and framed this objective: How can you get more value out of food animals and benefit human and animal health? One result of this inquiry was his discovery of a protein in chicken eggs that could be blended with animal feed as an antibiotics replacement. He brought his innovation to the marketplace by helping to found Ab E Discovery and develop this protein for human and animal health benefits.

Mark was a leader in the boardroom and the classroom who included hard-working students on his patents. Through his mentorship and teaching, he inspired a new generation of researchers to become entrepreneurs, stoking their interest in commercializing their discoveries.

The Wisconsin Idea reminds us that, with collaboration and innovation, we have the ability to change the world by matching academic interest with a real need. This is also the legacy of Mark Cook. We encourage those of you in industry to find a university collaborator to translate a discovery for a new innovation. For university scientists, we hope you will follow Mark’s lead and reach out to an industry partner who can help to frame your inquiries to guide new applications. Such partnerships can both change lives and improve communities.

Christopher P. Salm is co-founder of Salm Partners in Denmark, Wisconsin, and CEO and co-founder (with Mark Cook and Jordan Sand) of Ab E Discovery in Madison, with a new manufacturing subsidiary being built in Waterloo, Wisconsin. Kathryn VandenBosch is dean of the UW–Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. This commentary is part of a series of articles organized by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). Comments on this piece are encouraged at See for other articles in this series or WARF’s Cycle of Innovation for more details on WARF.

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