WEDC is pleased to share news about UW-Madison’s renewed commitment to campus innovation. A newly launched advocacy group called The Advocacy Consortium for Entrepreneurs (ACE) will improve the campus environment for entrepreneurship and reduce barriers to starting companies.


Leading the consortium is Rock Mackie. Mackie is the founder of TomoTherapy, one of the university’s most successful technology-based spinoff companies.

ACE complements the University’s new Discovery to Product (D2P) initiative and will be established as an independent, nonprofit organization that can lobby and advocate for campus, state and federal policies that support entrepreneurial development.

UW-Madison has come a long way in its view of entrepreneurship from two decades ago, when starting a company typically led to faculty and staff leaving campus. Mackie says the ultimate goal will be to make UW-Madison a national leader in generating businesses and jobs from intellectual property and know-how.

ACE can suggest mentors and promote entrepreneurial instruction, thereby giving entrepreneurs more tools to succeed. The steering committee has a diverse base, including music professors, engineering professors, medical school professors, business school representatives, and animal sciences and continuing studies faculty.

ACE goals include the following:

  • Develop an inventory of faculty, staff and post-doctoral entrepreneurs from campus.
  • Help to create a cross-campus entrepreneurship curriculum.
  • Advocate for condo space for campus-generated business activities.
  • Establish a one-on-one mentoring program between current and aspiring academic entrepreneurs.

We were excited to hear that at ACE’s first public meeting, more than half of the 80-plus attendees raised their hands when asked whether they have either started or intend to start businesses. That’s what we love to hear!

For more on participating, contact Mackie at 608-316-4363 or