Erik Iverson is Managing Director of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. He brings to his role over 20 years of executive experience leading organizations committed to entrepreneurial efforts that positively impact people worldwide. He assumed the lead of the investment and nonprofit patent and licensing organization in July 2016. For more than 90 years, WARF has invested in scientific research and education at the UW–Madison stewarding the cycle of research, discovery, commercialization and investment.
Prior to joining WARF, Iverson was the President, Business & Operations, of the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), a nonprofit global health organization in Seattle, WA, focused on research and product development for infectious diseases of global importance. Iverson led IDRI’s Executive Team in making critical business and strategic efforts relating to IDRI’s internal preclinical and clinical R&D programs, coordinating contract development and manufacturing services, technology/product in-licensing and acquisition, and technology out-licensing and partnering. He was also responsible for structuring international joint ventures and collaborative relationships aimed at the formulation, development and production of vaccines and vaccine technologies, including within emerging markets.
Iverson is a Founder and a Board Member of Afrigen Biologics Limited, an IDRI spinout company located in Cape Town, South Africa, that is the first ever vaccine and biologics focused biotechnology company on the continent of Africa.
Prior to IDRI, Iverson was hired as the first attorney dedicated to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s global health and agricultural programs. He played a lead role in building the Global Health Program for seven years as Associate General Counsel. At the Foundation, Iverson worked closely with staff and grantees in the development of intellectual property management and collaboration agreements, novel financing arrangements (including a leadership role in the establishment of the Foundation’s private equity “Program Related Investments”), product development and global product access.
Previously, Iverson was an attorney at the law firm of Perkins Coie LLP where he represented life science companies in the negotiation of financing transactions, joint ventures, research collaborations, licensing agreements and manufacturing agreements
Allen Dines is an Executive Advison at WISC Partners, a strategic operating capital fund founded by a group of Silicon Valley-based UW-Madison alumni. Allen has more than 30 years of experience at the executive level working at the interface of science and technology. His passion is creation and growth of new ventures. He is also active as a mentor and advisor with MERLIN mentors, 100State, gener8tor, Madworks Accelerator and MadVentures. Most recently Allen was Assistant Director, New Ventures at the UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations. During his tenure at UW-Madison he founded or provided original inspiration for many of the programs and events that today are mainstays in Madison’s startup scene. In 2003 he founded the Midwest Research University Network (MRUN), an alliance of Midwest university commercialization managers and others focused on fostering startup ventures. Prior to joining UW- Madison, Allen was involved in three startup ventures, all in the biotechnology sector two of which he co-founded and all of which sold to leaders in their respective industries. Prior to these ventures, Allen was an Associate with Booz, Allen & Hamilton, Inc. in Bethesda, MD working with the Pharmaceuticals, Agrichemicals and Food practice. Allen holds degrees from the University of Michigan including a B.S, a Masters in Natural Resources and an MBA.
Matt Younkle is an inventor with an eye for business. His product development work has spanned a wide range of industries: from space research, to networking software, to draft beer. Matt’s successes have resulted in the first food to ever be grown in space and the world’s fastest retrofittable beer tap. His projects have been featured in USA Today, Popular Science, The Wall Street Journal, TIME Magazine, CNN, CNBC, FOX News, Chicago Sun Times and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Matt is a connoisseur of and oft-requested speaker on topics of innovation, intellectual property, patents and the commercialization of new products. Matt’s is founder and CEO of, murfie.com, a new way to buy, sell and trade digital music in an online social music marketplace. He is also a co-founder of Capital Entrepreneurs. Previously Matt founded Laminar Technologies, LLC, the developer of the TurboTap® line of beer dispensing products. Laminar was a 2005 winner of the Chicago Innovation Awards, and TurboTap was named a top invention by both Popular Science and TIME Magazine. Matt is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in computer science and electrical engineering. He has been awarded thirteen US and international patents.
Dennis Barnum, MERLIN Mentors, Pitch & rePlay Wrangler
Dennis Barnum has over thirty years’ experience in the high-technology and services industries, primarily in computer software and services. He holds a master’s in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and participated in the MBA program at the University of Minnesota. He began his career at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. He subsequently spent several years with Control Data Corporation in Minneapolis in a variety of management positions in the domestic and international software and services divisions. Since 1986, Barnum has been involved in either high-tech startups or recovery of high-tech companies. He has founded several technology companies, and has led turnarounds of several others. He is active in the Merlin Mentors program and currently Director of Operations for Thalchemy, a UW-Madison inspired startup.
Susie Younkle, MERLIN Mentors