Wisconsin Roundup: Uber Bill, Angel Deals, Exact Sciences, & More

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

Here are some of the latest headlines from Wisconsin’s tech and innovation community:

—Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill late Friday night that enacts statewide regulation of ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. The bill had bipartisan support in the Legislature, but has drawn opposition by some Democratic legislators and city officials in Milwaukee and Madison. That’s partly because the law supersedes ordinances already passed by those cities, and some see the state regulations as weaker than the cities’ rules. Some of the concerns are tied to two recent alleged incidents in Madison where Uber drivers reportedly inappropriately touched female passengers.

—Wisconsin Investment Partners, a Madison-based angel investor network, was among the 12 most active angel groups nationwide last year, according to the latest annual Halo Report from the Angel Resource Institute.

The report also found that angel groups in the Great Lakes region pumped more money into companies than anywhere else—17.2 percent of the $1.65 billion total—barely beating California. That was the first time California didn’t hold the top spot, Wisconsin Technology Council president Tom Still pointed out in an op-ed column.

—Madison-based Forte Research Systems received a “major growth investment” from Primus Capital. The size of the deal wasn’t disclosed. Forte Research develops software to manage clinical research.

—Exact Sciences (NASDAQ: EXAS) proposed moving its headquarters from the outskirts of Madison to the heart of downtown. If approved by the city, Exact would anchor a planned $125 million multi-use development totaling 1 million square feet.

—Speaking of Exact, the diagnostics company reported first-quarter results that Baird financial analysts called “strong” because, although the company didn’t turn a profit, it surpassed predictions for revenue and number of Cologuard tests completed. Cologuard is Exact’s stool-based DNA test for detecting colorectal cancer.

Exact also continued to make progress in convincing insurers to cover the cost of the test. Exact now has gotten insurance agreements that cover more than 60 percent of its potential market, “an impressive accomplishment this early in the launch,” Baird analysts said.

—The FDA granted orphan drug status for Madison-based Co-D Therapeutics’ pre-clinical drug Triolimus to treat angiosarcoma, a rare cancer that originates in the cells that line the blood vessels. Co-D is developing drugs that use nanoparticle technology to deliver a combination of cancer-killing agents.

Crowds.io, previously known as Inventalator, has raised $300,000 from investors and is rolling out new features for its crowdsourcing website this month, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Xconomy profiled the Milwaukee-based startup almost a year ago. The company has since shifted to focus on entrepreneurs—not inventors—and aims to use the crowd to help them get feedback on their businesses, raise funds, and connect with freelancers and potential customers.

—Two types of water sensors developed by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have been licensed to three Wisconsin-based companies: A.O. Smith, Badger Meter, and Baker Manufacturing. One of the technologies was also licensed to Pennsylvania-based Gannett Fleming. Read more about the inventions here.