October 21, 2020 | By JP Bertinet | Photos by JP Bertinet | Back to news

In July 2020, it was announced that the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) will launch the CDL-Wisconsin Program this fall. The CDL-Wisconsin Program is a collaboration with the Creative Destruction Lab at the Rotman School of Management and is an initiative that will provide learning opportunities for our students and connect entrepreneurs with CDL’s global network of experts. CDL-Wisconsin is an innovative partnership between the Wisconsin School of Business, the School of Computing, Data and Information Sciences (CDIS) and American Family Insurance. The program leverages the UW’s highly ranked programs in Risk & Insurance, Computer Science and Entrepreneurship.

CDL is an early-stage program for high potential startups and is comprised of an international network that includes locations in Canada, the US, England, and France. As the ninth location selected for CDL, UW joins elite company that includes the University of Oxford, the University of Toronto, and Georgia Tech. The new CDL-Wisconsin site will initially specialize in working with startups focused on risk management. The site co-leads are Professor Joan Schmit (Risk and Insurance) and Professor Jignesh Patel (Computer Science) with Dan Olszewski (Weinert Center) serving as the instructor for the class.

On September 30th, the Weinert Center in collaboration with Kristjan Sigurdson, the Director of Community at CDL, introduced interested students to CDL through an information session. The CDL class will offer entrepreneurial-minded undergraduate and graduate students from across the campus with an opportunity to work directly with startups and founders through a highly collaborative, experiential program.
Through the program, UW-Madison student teams will have an opportunity to apply their expertise, working with high potential startups from across the globe. They will work alongside experienced entrepreneurs who have founded, led, and sold significant tech companies, as well as with world-leading subject matter experts in science, engineering, and economics. The consortium of students, veteran entrepreneurs, and experts will work to advance the startup ventures through mentorship and strategy development.

Finally, in order to punctuate his point that the CDL will present huge value to the students, Kristjan spoke to the experience from the perspective of the students: “When you actually see them [the mentors] work, and there’s a startup company that’s sitting there and saying, ‘Well, I don’t know whether to focus on hiring my data science team or on raising money right now, because it will be easier for me to go to an investor if I’ve already got a team going, but I don’t know if I’ll last that long.’ How do you solve that? And our mentors are just incredibly talented at disentangling all the pieces of the problems and helping those founders figure out what to do. So for you sitting around that room, observing and getting a sense of how these mentors have built such impressive companies thinking about these types of problems — it’s an awesome learning experience.”