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 Advisor 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 is currently founder and CEO of Cardigan, an app for digital exchange and management of business cards. Previously he founded and served as CEO of, murfie.com, a music streaming company offering CD and vinyl collectors and audiophiles a way to bring their music into the 21st century by combining lossless streaming with the ability buy, sell and trade their 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.
Mehrdad Arjmand, Founder, NovoMoto
Mehrdad Arjmand completed his PhD in Engineering Physics and Engineering Mechanics at the Materials Science and Research Engineering Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mehrdad worked in the oil and gas industry at SEISCO before starting his PhD. Mehrdad is passionate to work in the energy sector and also enjoys serving customers in emerging markets.
Dennis Barnum, MERLIN Mentors, Pitch & rePlay Wrangler, Thalchemy
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.
Lisa Frank, Lisa Frank Photography, WonderVRstudio
Scott Fulton, CEO Cellara, LLC
Scott Fulton has been in the life science tools and biotechnology industry for 40 years. Trained in physics, biology and biochemical engineering at MIT, he has worked in product development, marketing, operations, senior management, and/or co-founded 7 companies (including 5 early stage). In 2002, he started BioSystem Development, LLC in Madison, which had a successful exit in 2011. He is currently CEO of Cellara and an adjunct professor in the UW-Madison Masters in Biotechnology program.
Jeff Leismer, Founder & CEO, VibeTech, Inc.
Dr. Leismer has been developing non-invasive medical equipment to reduce atrophy of the body during times of disuse since 2000. He is Founder and CEO of VibeTech, Inc. (Sheboygan, WI), a NASA Spinoff company aimed at restoring physical function and reducing pain in patients recovering from injury and surgery and those with weakness and mobility impairments. He is inventor of VibeTech’s core technology and has 13 issued and pending patents in the US and abroad. He has received research grants and business awards from federal, state and local government, universities, and private foundations. Dr. Leismer has also been an invited proposal review panelist for the National Science Foundation (NSF) since 2004 and has been an invited speaker at scientific, medical, and entrepreneurial events across the country. He is an active board member and Director of Technology and Innovation at Spaceport Sheboygan and a serial sponsor of senior design projects within the University of Wisconsin system. Prior to commencing fulltime operations with VibeTech, Dr. Leismer was adjunct faculty member at the University of Wisconsin (Stout and Sheboygan campuses), patent consultant to aspiring entrepreneurs and a private and a public company, and R&D lead for Kohler Co.’s consumer experience lab. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering from the University of Florida and BS and Masters of Engineering degrees in Biomedical Engineering (Biomechanics) at Michigan Technological University.
Marsha McVicker, CEO and Founder, Errand Solutions
Marsha McVicker is the founder and CEO of Errand Solutions, a business that strives to make companies popular and employees happy. Marsha received her bachelor’s degree and MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During her MBA program she created Errand Solutions, went on to win a business plan competition and a spot in the Weinert Applied Ventures in Entrepreneurship (WAVE) program. To accelerate growth, Marsha completed the Entrepreneurial Masters Program at MIT, informally known as the “Birthing of Giants”. Errand Solutions has completed 5 billion requests, helped 3.9 million people, and served 200+ client locations globally. The company was recognized as one of the fastest growing companies by Fortune 500/5000. Marsha has been a guest lecturer on entrepreneurship, work/life balance, rewards and recognition and numerous other subjects at a variety of national and international conferences and academic settings. Marsha was inducted to the UIC Entrepreneur Hall of Fame, and is a chair of FEJ – a Haitian Foundation run by Haitians to create sustainable communities.
Rachel Neill, Founder and CEO, Carex Consulting Group, Inc.
Rachel Neill has built her career around talent acquisition and company culture, with a passion for startups and healthcare. As part of her background, she has extensive experience in recruiting and placing candidates in a position to succeed. Prior to Carex Consulting Group, she worked as an executive at Nordic Consulting and helped build it into one of the largest Epic consulting firms nationwide. Rachel graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and continues to be active in the local Alumni chapter.
Mutlu Ozdogan, CEO & Co-founder, Agrograph, Inc.
Dr. Ozdogan is trained as a geographer and has over 15 years of experience processing remotely sensed observations for agricultural and natural resource management applications. He is Co-found & CEO of Agrograph, a data analytics company using advanced image processing to convert satellite imagery and crop models into field-scale forecasts for yield estimation, crop insurance, land evaluation and risk assessment. He is also currently a faculty member at UW-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Forest Ecology & Management. He has extensive links to industry, farmers and government agencies. He holds a a B.Sc. degree in Geological Engineering from Istanbul University in Turkey, a Master’s of Science from North Carolina State University and a PhD from Boston University.
Emily Purdom, Co-founder, DotCom Therapy
Emily is Co-founder of Madison-based startup DotCom Therapy, she leads the growth company to drive telehealth innovation benefiting children, their families, and school districts across the country. Her mantra: Make therapy services available to everyone, everywhere. With this mission, DotCom Therapy is now in 15 states and 3 countries having delivered 50,000+ therapy sessions while growing revenue at a 3x runrate year over year. Certified in Speech Language Pathology, Emily originally co-founded the company to enable children to have access to therapy services when they had no real alternative. While scaling the speech therapy delivery model, she is simultaneously expanding the company’s reach and scope allowing DotCom Therapy to deliver care in clinical environments as well as across different care disciplines of mental health and occupational therapy. As a therapist, avid advocate for children, and thought leader on telehealth, Emily is leading DotCom Therapy to the next level.
Brandon Walker, CEO Linectra
Brandon Walker is an entrepreneur and post-doctoral researcher. His core research focuses on advanced electron beam scanning systems, with applications in computed tomography and metal additive manufacturing. As CEO of Linectra, a startup focused on high-speed 3D metal printing, he is also leading the design of an ultra-fast 3D metal printer incorporating both high resolution and large build volume for the aerospace and automotive industry
Susie Younkle, MERLIN Mentors