Wisconsin Roundup: Exact Sciences, Bioforward, MCW, & More

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

A former Wisconsin governor has joined the board of promising Madison biotech company Exact Sciences. Meanwhile, there’s turnover at the top of the state’s biotech trade group. Read on for details about these announcements (and others) in this week’s rundown of Wisconsin innovation and technology headlines.

—Jim Doyle, the Democrat who served as Wisconsin’s governor from 2002 to 2010, has joined Exact Sciences’ board. The Madison firm is picking up steam on its journey toward commercialization of its non-invasive, stool-based test that screens for colorectal cancer, after an FDA advisory panel unanimously endorsed the test in March.

Doyle’s ties to Exact Sciences go back several years. During his administration, the state economic development agency helped lure Exact Sciences to Madison from Boston with a $1 million loan. Doyle also praised Exact Sciences CEO Kevin Conroy in a 2009 Wisconsin State Journal article that indicated Conroy was mulling running for governor as a Democrat. (Conroy ultimately decided against it.)

Doyle is currently a consulting attorney for Foley & Lardner and a partner at consulting business Doyle & Boyce Strategies. He serves on the Kaiser Family Foundation board of trustees, a nonprofit focused on national health issues.

—Bryan Renk has left his post as executive director of Bioforward, Wisconsin’s life sciences trade group, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Renk has yet to respond to Xconomy messages seeking comment.

Renk led Madison-based Bioforward for five years, after four years running agtech firm Aova Technologies in nearby Fitchburg, WI. He currently serves on the boards of Madison-based flu vaccine developer Flugen and Maple Leaf Farms, which has operations in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and California.

—Madison-based startup Imbed Biosciences was awarded a $1.5 million National Institutes of Health grant to help develop its antimicrobial, nanofilm technology that aims to help wounds heal without infection or the use of potentially harmful levels of silver. The announcement comes three months after Imbed raised $180,000 out of a potential $250,000 round of convertible debt, its first financing from outside investors, SEC filings show. The company had previously raised at least $476,000 in federal R&D grants.

—Five women-led Wisconsin startups were chosen to present at a breakfast event during Madison’s Forward Technology Festival in August, with the winning pitch earning a $5,000 grant. The companies are FillMyRecipe, based in Madison; Find My Spot, Milwaukee; Local Thyme, Madison; Protect Your Pumps, Milwaukee; and Scantribution, Racine. The finalists were chosen from about 20 applicants, the Wisconsin State Journal reported, and they include businesses in food, software, and manufacturing.

The Doyenne Group, a Madison organization that supports women entrepreneurs, is providing the funding and organizing the event.

—Protein Foundry, the first startup to come out of Medical College of Wisconsin’s new incubator program, was profiled by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In May, Xconomy outlined Bill Clarke’s vision for this program under his part-time leadership as the college’s director of research commercialization. It’s worth noting, as the Journal Sentinel did, that even though spinout activity by the state’s flagship university is ahead of MCW’s by leaps and bounds, an incubator program like MCW’s wouldn’t be allowed to exist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison because public university campuses can’t house private companies.