Wisconsin Startup’s Neutron Generator Generates Big U.K. Customer

Phoenix Nuclear Labs has closed on a $1.15 million private funding round and inked its first major commercial contract, the Monona, WI, startup said this week.

Phoenix has developed a particle accelerator-based neutron generator that has applications in medical isotope production and neutron radiography imaging, among other uses. The company was founded in 2005 by Greg Piefer, who is now CEO of Shine Medical Technologies. Shine, a Phoenix spinoff housed in the same facility, plans to produce medical isotopes using Phoenix’s core accelerator technology.

So far, Phoenix has delivered two demonstration neutron generator systems, one to Shine and one to a U.S. Army facility in New Jersey for quality assurance of manufactured munitions.

The deal announced Tuesday with the Nuclear Control Systems business of Ultra Electronics, based in the U.K., marks the first “large-scale commercial contract” for Phoenix, the company said. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed. Phoenix said it will deliver its technology to Ultra Electronics’ thermal neutron facility in late 2014 for testing and calibration of Ultra Electronics’ nuclear energy products.

The company’s $1.15 million bridge financing round included participation by Venture Management LLC and Wisconsin Investment Partners, both of Madison, New Capital Fund of Little Chute, WI, Chippewa Valley Angel Investment Network, based in western Wisconsin, and several private investors, said Phoenix vice president of business development Evan Sengbusch. Phoenix has raised about $2 million total in equity funding to date, he said.

Phoenix also said it has received initial approval for a $250,000 loan from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

The company currently has 15 full-time and 10 part-time employees, and it anticipates hiring more staff and expanding its facility.

“This recent round of funding allows us to take the proper steps to move our technology out of R&D and into commercial production,” Phoenix president Ross Radel said in a press release.

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