August 19 - 23 • 2024

Forward Fest 2021

Biotech Spotlight: Startups, Scaleup and Growth

Learn from leaders at Exact Sciences, Aldevron, Vascugen & Forward BIO Institute
  • Hosted by UW–Madison Innovate Network
  • Online
  • Free


Friday, Aug. 13th, 2021 from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM


Learn about startup, scaleup and growth at leading biotech companies, with panelists Ana Hooker of Exact Sciences, Tom Foti of Aldevron, Carter Cliff of Vascugen, and Cathy Rasmussen of the Forward BIO Institute. These industry leaders, startup veterans and founders can speak to companies at all stages, including how they leveraged UW–Madison-affiliated resources such as University Research Park, technologies, and partnerships. This panel is for biotech entrepreneurs and industry partners, those scaling any kind of tech or manufacturing startup, and those interested in lessons on scaleup and growth from some of Madison’s most innovative companies. Presented by UW–Madison's Innovate Network and Forward BIO Institute.


Carter Cliff, Founder & CEO, Vascugen

Carter Cliff is Founder & CEO of Vascugen, a company committed to developing treatments for patients suffering from incurable diseases including the leading cause of limb amputation. Previously he co-founded Opsis Therapeutics with the goal to reverse blinding disorders of the retina, which led to a Strategic R&D Alliance with BlueRock Therapeutics, and was Director of Business Development at FUJIFILM Cellular Dynamics, where he established a pipeline of iPSC-based therapeutic programs.  A serial entrepreneur, Carter co-founded RPRD Diagnostics to market ethnically-inclusive precision medicine.

Tom Foti, President, Protein Business Unit, Aldevron

Tom Foti has more than 25 years of biotechnology experience. As President of Aldevron’s Protein Business Unit, Tom is responsible for the strategy and performance of the business, enabling cell and gene therapy clients to deliver breakthroughs for patients. He started his career in manufacturing and operational roles with Novagen, and moved to Merck KGaA’s bioscience division, ultimately leading their Global Custom Services Business Unit. In 2009, he moved to Aldevron as the first staff member and co-founder and has been instrumental in the growth and expansion of Aldevron’s Madison site.

Ana Hooker, Senior Vice President, Operations, Exact Sciences

As Senior Vice President, Ana Hooker is responsible for Exact Sciences operations spanning clinical laboratories, manufacturing, supply chain, service and support, and quality assurance, including 1,700 employees across 6 U.S. locations. Her experience across medical technology, operations, genomics, and business includes managing the genetics, oncology, and anatomic pathology divisions of ARUP Laboratories for 17 years. Ana joined Exact Sciences in 2013, where she launched and scaled the clinical laboratory and manufacturing operations to support the growth of Cologuard, the company’s flagship product, and led a 2020 pivot to support COVID-19 testing for the State of Wisconsin.  She serves on several not-for-profit boards and is passionate about mentoring women in leadership and STEM.

Cathy Rasmussen, Assistant Director, Forward BIO Institute at UW–Madison

Cathy Rasmussen has over 20 years of experience in regenerative medicine and translational biomanufacturing research. Specializing in cell-based therapies, she is an inventor on four U.S. and numerous international patents. Her expertise spans strategic planning, cross-functional leadership, product development, extramural fundraising, and scientific communications. Dr. Rasmussen was part of the pioneering team at Stratatech, a Mallinckrodt Company, where she managed platform R&D and directed preclinical studies for the company’s pipeline, including the StrataGraft regenerative skin tissue which received FDA approval in June.  Dr. Rasmussen has also served on the steering committee for Women in Biohealth since 2017.

Moderator: Aaron Olver, Managing Director, University Research Park

Innovate Network Host: Mary Carbine, Project Administrator, Discovery to Product (D2P), UW–Madison

  • Workshop
  • Bio / Health


Registration for this event is closed.