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Group of UW donors come together to permanently endow the Morgridge Entrepreneurial Bootcamp

Friday, June 16, 2017

As Wisconsin Entrepreneurial Bootcamp Celebrates Decade of Achievement and Contributions to State Economy, New Gift Secures its Future and Honors Co-Founder

For one week each June, some 60-65 graduate students from dozens of different majors across the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus come together at the Wisconsin School of Business for a free, intensive training session on how to assess product ideas and how to form and finance technology-based startups. Since 2007, the Wisconsin Entrepreneurial Bootcamp (WEB) has made significant contributions to the Wisconsin state economy, with over 38 new companies started by WEB participants and program alumni working in Wisconsin for local companies from startup to large corporations.   

At a community dinner for the 2017 WEB class Thursday night, program leaders and alumni came together to announce a new gift that will permanently fund the program and name it the Morgridge Entrepreneurial Bootcamp. John Morgridge, a Wisconsin School of Business graduate and the chairman emeritus of Cisco Systems, came up with the idea of a bootcamp to expose UW graduate students in STEM fields to the entrepreneurial process. He sponsored the program from its inception, encouraged faculty and industry leaders to participate, and shared his expertise as an instructor.

“John’s passion for giving UW students the entrepreneurial skills they need to bring ideas to life and his commitment to this entrepreneurship program are really inspiring,” says Dan Olszewski, program co-founder and director of the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship at the Wisconsin School of Business. Russ Coff, professor of management & human resources and co-organizing instructor adds, “To know the bootcamp will be funded in perpetuity and carry John’s name is a tremendous tribute to his vision and dedication to the program.”    

Endowing the entrepreneurial bootcamp ensures the program will continue to serve as an engine for entrepreneurship and economic development activity in Wisconsin and beyond. Over the last ten years, the impact of the Morgridge Entrepreneurial Bootcamp has been considerable:

  • Over 650 students have participated, learning from over 35 instructors, 47 panelists, and 32 guest speakers drawn from academia and industry.
  • More than $21 million in investment capital has been raised by WEB alumni.
  • More than 38 businesses have been started by WEB alumni, including such Wisconsin-based companies as Healthfinch, BluDiagnostics, Sector67, and Imbed Biosciences.
  • Graduates of the program have gone on to work for such Wisconsin companies as GE Healthcare, Covance, Cummins Engines, and Cellular Dynamics International, retaining vital STEM talent in the state.

“WARF worked with John and our colleagues at the Wisconsin School of Business in developing WEB a decade ago when John shared his vision for this program,” says Erik Iverson, Managing Director of WARF.  “It has been a spectacular success and has inspired students to think and act entrepreneurially.  The development of dozens of new startups as well as advancing successful technologies positively impacts our entire region and state. WARF couldn’t be more delighted to support this program and the students of WEB.” 

With a goal to raise $1.5 million to permanently endow the Morgridge Entrepreneurial Bootcamp, gifts are continuing to come in and the endowment is expected to surpass this goal. The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) made a lead commitment of $350,000 to launch the effort, both as a means of recognizing Morgridge’s dedication to the university and his efforts to pursue meaningful cross-campus partnerships and entrepreneurial endeavors. To date, nearly 50 donors joined WARF to recognize Morgridge’s contributions to entrepreneurship education at UW–Madison.

Morgridge’s fellow UW Alumnus and co-chair of the University’s comprehensive capital campaign, Mike Shannon, feels that this effort has allowed a community of alumni and friends to show their gratitude for the impact that John has had on the institution, while supporting an innovative and impactful UW program.  “John has been a driver of entrepreneurial excellence on our campus and has supported these efforts with incredible generosity”, Shannon says. “His involvement with the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp over the last decade is exemplary of this commitment, and the impact of the program is widespread. I am inspired by John's dedication to entrepreneurship education at UW, and it was an honor to join with WARF and others to endow the Bootcamp in his name."