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UW-River Falls WiSys ambassador pilot program announced

February 4, 2015

The new WiSys program is bringing ideas into reality and UW-River Falls is one of the two pilot schools, according to the director of undergraduate research, scholarly and creative activity.

WiSys is a nonprofit pilot technology transfer program designed to bring together the UW System and provide support for students, faculty and staff who have new ideas, jobs or technology.

WiSys supports research, technology and development. Its goal is to link campus innovators with industry leaders as well as providing assistance with patents and licensing activities.

“Its an honor for our campus to be selected as one of the pilots. Technology transfer is the term that’s used when a new technology or new business idea or jobs have potential for creation or to be transferred,” said Lissa Schneider-Rebozo, the director of undergraduate research, scholarly and creative activity.

WiSys is modeled after UW-Madison’s WARF program that was created in the 1920s. WARF shares similar goals and services. WARF is only available for Madison’s population. WiSys aims to bring the UW System together and share resources and ideas, with the exception of UW-Milwaukee and Madison, each having its own programs.

“The purpose ultimately will be to go system-wide as soon as next year, certainly within two years,” Schneider-Rebozo said.

Wisconsin has intellectual property laws that are unique to the nation. It gives more rights for new inventions and ideas to the creator than other states. The laws tend to focus more on the individual than the company, guiding inventors through the process.

“Nation-wide, the norm, if you’re working for an organization and you have an idea and you want to take it to market, that idea actually, in almost every case, belongs to the company that was paying you when you had the idea,” Schneider-Rebozo said.

UWRF has two WiSys ambassadors: Rachel O’Leary and Erin Sorge, both dairy science students. Their job is to help educate the community about intellectual rights. They spend five to 10 hours per month enhancing the understanding and awareness of WiSys across campus. They’ve received training on intellectual property rights and laws as well as the technology transfer process.

“As an active research assistant on campus, I am excited about the opportunity to see projects my colleagues and I work on transform into products,” O’Leary said. “I’m particularly interested in helping WiSys become more proactive in identifying research and potential inventions.”

The goal is to have ambassadors on each campus and have the WiSys program available to all UW campuses. UWRF and UW-Parkside are serving as the home for the pilot program. The program will be brought in to each of the other comprehensive institutions later this year.

“The WiSys ambassador program is modeled on a similar program that WARF runs,” Schneider-Rebozo said. “Because of the idea of bringing people from all over the system for centralized training, it will be very different from Madison.”