UW–Madison Shanghai Innovation Office seeks to further increase engagement

In its first year, the University of Wisconsin–Madison Shanghai Innovation Office (SIO) has hosted high-level delegations, coordinated conferences that have brought together Wisconsin and Chinese experts from academia as well as from the public and private sectors, and facilitated collaborative agreements. As UW–Madison moves to further strengthen connections in China, faculty and staff across campus are being encouraged to pursue new ideas for engagement through the university’s first overseas outpost.

“This office is meant to serve the entire campus community,” says W. John Kao, associate dean in UW–Madison’s Division of International Studies, who oversees the SIO.  “We have had a dynamic first year, highlighted by two major conferences and an agreement to offer professional training in dairy science.  We invite faculty, students and staff from across disciplines to let us help put their innovative ideas into action.”

Building on its long history of partnerships in China, UW–Madison opened the office in the Zizhu High-Tech Industrial Development Zone, a research park in Shanghai, in partnership with Shanghai’s Minhang District and University Research Park. Interim Chancellor David Ward joined with Minhang District leaders to formally inaugurate the SIO in June 2012.

The primary mission of the Shanghai Innovation Office is to facilitate projects led by UW–Madison faculty and staff and to raise the university’s profile abroad. The office aims to help coordinate study abroad and internship opportunities for students, faculty and staff research collaborations, alumni engagement and business partnerships. The office is supported by three-year (2012-15) seed funding from UW–Madison, Minhang District and private sources, with the goal that the operation would become self-sustaining beyond the initial period.

The Division of International Studies administers the SIO, on behalf of the UW-Madison Provost’s Office of the Provost.  Kao, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Pharmacy, Surgery and Biomedical Engineering, leads a seven-member Faculty Steering and Oversight Committee, which provides guidance for development and operation of the office.

Neville Lam, who received his bachelor’s degree in business at UW–Madison in 1997 and is the founding president of the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s Shanghai Chapter, serves as the SIO’s on-site director.

Since its launch, the SIO has been involved with several projects, most notably:

“We are now at the point where we are ready to assist other innovative ideas through the SIO,” says Lam, who visited the Madison campus during the first week of May. Lam met with representatives of more than 20 campus units to discuss how the SIO can help put ideas into action. These ranged from setting up a dairy science training program for farm managers to creating new study abroad opportunities for students.

To facilitate submission of proposals and other public inquiries, the SIO has designed a two-page Request for Information form, which is available on the SIO website.

Questions about the UW–Madison Shanghai Innovation Office and making use of services through the SIO may be directed to W. John Kao at wjkao@wisc.edu.

– by Kerry G. Hill