Wisconsin Roundup: Tech Transfer, Supercomputers, Stem Cells

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

Here are a few notable news items from Wisconsin’s tech and innovation community over the past week:

—Discovery to Product (D2P), the new University of Wisconsin-Madison initiative for accelerating commercialization of campus innovations, named Wisconsin entrepreneur John Biondi as its first director. In his career, Biondi has raised nearly $60 million for nine early-stage ventures in sectors like nanotechnology instruments, biotech, and software, the university said.

—UW-Madison also named Mary Linton the interim director of the two-year, $2.4 million Igniter grant from the UW System. The money will help fund commercialization of technologies in collaboration with D2P. Linton spent more than 20 years at Promega.

—Cray, the Seattle-based supercomputer developer, has opened a second manufacturing facility in Chippewa Falls, WI, that doubles its manufacturing capacity, the company said.

—Debate has begun in Madison over ride-sharing app services Uber and Lyft, which recently began operating in the state capital. The same arguments for and against the service that have been made in other cities seem to be playing out in Madison, but the Wisconsin State Journal reported that at least one city official, Ald. Scott Resnick, is working on legislation to allow the companies to operate. Until then, Madison police have threatened to ticket Uber and Lyft drivers, the Isthmus reported. The two startups also recently launched in Milwaukee.

—Cellular Dynamics International (NASDAQ: ICEL), the Madison-based supplier of human stem cells, continues to gain traction in selling to major biotech customers, as it attempts to carve out and dominate the market for producing stem cells in industrial quantities. The company said it grew total revenue 81 percent in fiscal 2013, and it snagged an average of $830,000 from its top 10 customers, up from an average of $445,000 the previous year. Cellular Dynamics went public last summer as part of a surge of biotech IPOs. Read more about the company’s strategy in this recent Xconomy feature.