Wisconsin Roundup: Exact Sciences, Promega, WARF, & More

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

Here are some of the past week’s major headlines from Wisconsin’s tech and innovation community:

—The new board of directors at Fitchburg-based life sciences supplier Promega has rejected a hostile takeover attempt, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Two shareholders—Ted Kellner, executive chairman of Milwaukee-based Fiduciary Management, and Nathan Brand, a Miami real estate developer with ties to Madison—had attempted to buy Promega and remove founder and CEO Bill Linton. Their bid, which was submitted in July, valued the company at about $1.25 billion, or $625 per share, two and a half times as much as Promega offered in a buyback of its shares last year.

—Exact Sciences (NASDAQ: EXAS), a Madison-based life sciences company whose shares cratered last month following a disappointing proposed federal classification of Cologuard, its non-invasive test for colorectal cancer, continued to make progress convincing doctors to prescribe the test. During the three months that ended Sept. 30, the company completed 34,000 tests, a 60 percent increase from the previous quarter. The total number of doctors ordering the test for patients increased 42 percent to 21,000, the company said.

In the press release announcing its quarterly financials, Exact said a peer-reviewed study recently published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings that examined Cologuard use among Alaska Native people showed the at-home test can improve access to screening. That comes on the heels of another study, published last month by researchers at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University in Family Medicine and Community Health, in which Exact said 84 percent of patients said they’d be “likely or somewhat likely” to have a Cologuard test performed again, if doing so were recommended.

—The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), which manages intellectual property for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, on Nov. 3 will announce a partnership with startup accelerator Gener8tor, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The basic dynamic of the partnership, which is reportedly the first between a top-20 startup accelerator and a university tech transfer office, is for Gener8tor to coach at least five companies per year that have worked with WARF to obtain a patent. Financial terms of the agreement have not been not disclosed.

—TAI Diagnostics, which is seeking to commercialize a non-invasive test to monitor the health of heart transplant recipients, raised $8.3 million in a Series A financing round. Frank Langley, who joined the Milwaukee-area startup last month as CEO, said TAI will use the funds to develop its test further, add staff, and continue construction of a reference laboratory near TAI’s offices on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Innovation Campus. The company could bring the test to market in one to two years, Langley said.

—We took a deeper look at Madison-based Phoenix Nuclear Labs, whose neutron-generating particle accelerators are part of the race to start domestic production of molybdenum-99, a crucial medical radioisotope used in diagnostic imaging. Phoenix’s technology has other applications, including munitions inspections and renewable energy.