New approach to simplify collaboration among industry and academia

Monday, January 22, 2018

MADISON – The Grainger Institute for Engineering (GIE) at the UW-Madison College of Engineering has started implementing a new framework for public-private partnerships to make it easier for faculty members and industry to engage with each other.

“We’ve established a master agreement plan that will help define the roles and responsibilities for companies and the university as it relates to collaborative research,” said GIE Director Dan Thoma. “We want faculty to be able to go into the process knowing how to protect their Intellectual Property (IP) and still get the companies what they need.”

The ultimate goal is to increase industrial interactions and reduce the cycle time for collaborative research agreements. GIE is doing this with the full interaction of UW’s College of Engineering (CoE), Office of Industrial Partnership (OIP), Office of Corporate Relations (OCR), and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). “We’re working together to accelerate the agility of the process,” said Thoma.

Every agreement plan will be slightly different. Thoma and GIE Assistant Director for Industrial Outreach Felix Lu fully expect continuous quality improvement with each iteration.

“The framework will help facilitate interactions like our new partnership with the Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC),” said Lu. “Our engagement with M-WERC is a great example of what we do at GIE.”

M-WERC has more than 90 members, partners and supporters, as well as a technology roadmap that’s very consistent with some of GIE’s research thrust areas, making the consortium an ideal collaborator. As part of the partnership, M-WERC has established a new office at the Grainger Institute for Engineering on the UW-Madison campus that will be staffed by GIE’s Director of Industrial and Systems Research, Bruce Beihoff, and M-WERC’s Managing Director of the Madison office, Dan Ebert.

“This partnership will more closely align M-WERC and our members to the premier research institution in the University of Wisconsin System,” said M-WERC CEO and Executive Director Alan Perlstein. “It represents another significant step in reaching across the Midwest to foster industrial collaboration and realize our goal of more quickly transitioning technology innovation into economic growth and job creation in the Energy Power and Controls (EPC) sector.”


About the Grainger Institute for Engineering

With a $25 million commitment from The Grainger Foundation, the Grainger Institute for Engineering builds on existing strengths within the College of Engineering at UW-Madison to foster new discoveries, act as an incubator for transdisciplinary research, help solve critical technological challenges and drive technological advances that enhance the success of U.S. industries and boost economic growth in the nation.


About the Mid-West Energy Research Consortium

M-WERC was founded in 2009 by three universities and four industrial companies to focus on conducting collaborative and transformative energy related seed research. It has grown to more than 90 members with an annual budget of more than $1 million. M-WERC is dedicated to making the Midwest region the leader in energy power and controls. For more information visit or follow us on Twitter at @MWERC.


Contact: Dan Thoma