Wisconsin Roundup: BrightStar, Propeller Health, JCI R&D lab, & More

Here’s a few news items from Wisconsin’s innovation and tech community that you might have missed this week:

—BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation announced its next round of investments in local startups, with $285,000 total put into Milwaukee-based The Good Jobs, Fishidy of Madison, WI, and WholeTrees, a Madison-based company that plans to build a production facility in Spring Green, WI, according to BrightStar. (I previously wrote about The Good Jobs and Fishidy.) BrightStar has been in the state’s spotlight since the nonprofit (yes, it’s a nonprofit that invests donations in startups) came on the scene last year with $6 million in initial backing from high-profile business people with Wisconsin ties. It made its first string of investments earlier this year.

—Madison-based Propeller Health said it received FDA approval to sell the latest version of its mobile-connected platform that helps respiratory disease patients better monitor and treat their conditions. The company’s new system includes an updated sensor that is 30 percent smaller than the previous version and runs on Bluetooth Low Energy—an upgrade that it says boosts battery life to more than 18 months and requires no charging. Propeller says its platform can also help predict asthma and COPD attacks. Read more Xconomy coverage of Propeller here and here.

—Middleton, WI-based Lucigen will receive a $500,000 loan from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. to purchase equipment to help it develop an on-the-spot molecular diagnostic platform for infections. Lucigen could add up to 60 jobs, according to a press release. I featured Lucigen in January.

—Johnson Controls announced the opening of a new R&D lab on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus that it says complements an existing lab and partnership with University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Madison lab will allow industry scientists, professors, and students to put their heads together to develop better energy storage systems using battery-testing technology, Johnson Controls said.

—Wisconsin lawmakers gave the official stamp of approval to Sun Mountain Kegonsa to run the new $25 million state-backed “fund of funds.” The fund manager is a collaboration between Kegonsa Capital Partners, a VC fund based in Fitchburg, WI, and Sun Mountain Capital, based in Santa Fe, NM. Sun Mountain Capital is run by former Wisconsin resident Brian Birk, according to an Associated Press report.

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