Joan Schmit, professor of risk and insurance and the American Family Insurance Distinguished Chair in Risk Management and Insurance at the Wisconsin School of Business, was a featured guest on a recent Badger Talks Live episode about the Creative Destruction Lab.
The Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) is a global nonprofit that supports early-stage, science-based ventures across 20 different streams, delivering a unique objectives-based program for massively scalable, seed-stage, science- and technology-based companies. CDL operates in 12 locations, including CDL-Wisconsin at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in partnership with American Family Insurance.
CDL-Wisconsin hosts two streams: a risk stream, now in its third year, which works with companies focusing on risk-tech and insure-tech; and a health and wellness stream started last year, which prioritizes the areas of wellness, medical technology, digital health, and healthcare platforms.
Schmit serves as co-site lead for CDL-Wisconsin along with Suman Banerjee, the David J. DeWitt Professor of computer science at UW–Madison. She was joined on Badger Talks Live by Tom Erickson, founding director of UW–Madison’s School of Computer, Data, & Information Sciences, who is academic lead for CDL-Wisconsin.
“That is something unique about this site, that we are a joint venture between business and computer science,” Schmit said. “All of the other sites are 100% within the business school. As a business person, I am so grateful that we are jointly working with computer science because that’s how universities should be operating—that the ideas don’t just come in one location or another.”
The CDL-Wisconsin program also embodies the Wisconsin Idea of taking learning beyond the boundaries of the classroom.
Upon returning to campus after a successful career spent in business, “one of the really big things I wanted to do was make an impact in areas where I felt the state would benefit,” says Erickson, a self-described third-generation Badger and fifth-generation Wisconsinite. “When CDL came about, I thought, here’s a great way for us to impact the economic development in the state and really influence those young entrepreneurs.”
Schmit said the highly competitive program typically receives 80 to 150 venture applications each year, with the final participants selected from a pool of approximately 50 interviewees.
To learn more about the work of CDL-Wisconsin, watch the recap in full:
Badger Talks is a privately funded program, connected to the Office of State Relations and housed under UW Connects statewide outreach.