Department joins forces with gener8tor to boost student entrepreneurship

By  Jennifer Smith


Nationally-ranked accelerator gener8tor is partnering with the UW-Madison Computer Sciences Department and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) to bring its gALPHA program to the UW-Madison campus. The program, “gALPHA+CS,” will pull talent and industry experts from across campus, match them with computer science students, help them build products, and, ultimately, start companies.

gALPHA is a hybrid between an accelerator and a development-sprint program that offers its services for free to help entrepreneurially-minded individuals start building their companies. Through gALPHA, the gener8tor team provides individualized mentorship and coaching to students interested in entrepreneurship and startups. The program is designed to help individuals identify business models and teach lean product development and customer validation.

There will be two gALPHA+CS programs during the 2017-18 academic year, both sponsored by the computer sciences department. The program is also made possible through a WARF sponsorship of gener8tor. Students across campus with varying skill sets will be encouraged to apply.

“This is an exciting development because two of the best and most proven catalysts for entrepreneurship in the Madison area are coming together,” said Professor Jignesh Patel, chair of the department’s entrepreneurship committee. “By joining forces, we can accelerate the growth of tech entrepreneurship in Wisconsin, with the ambitious aim of pushing Wisconsin to the frontline of technology startup growth in the country.”

The partnership between the department and gener8tor is funded through a generous private gift to the university from a donor who earned his master’s degree in computer science in 2010. The gift will also support other activities that spark students’ interest in entrepreneurship and develop their knowledge and confidence in this arena.

“Now more than ever, computer scientists have an incredible opportunity to help Wisconsin’s long-term economic well-being,” said Professor Guri Sohi, CS department chair. “We can facilitate the use of knowledge that we create, and help our students learn how to develop their ideas and exploit their computing skills to build innovative companies in Wisconsin.”

Soon, gALPHA will recruit students who want to be part of the fall program, running the first three weeks of October. The program will consist of a week of ideation followed by two weeks of product iteration guided by the gener8tor team. The program ends with a final presentation by each team, showing off their products and what they learned through product iterations.

“The gALPHA program is a great way for technically-inclined students to get experience with aspects of startups that they would not normally learn in an academic setting,” said gALPHA’s Director, Kiernan McGowan. “Being able to build something and iterate on it through customer
feedback is an essential skill for both creating a successful company and leading an engineering team.”

gALPHA+CS is now recruiting for its fall 2017 class. To learn more or to apply, contact Kiernan McGowan, Director of gALPHA, at