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Phoenix, Baird’s New CEO, & Epic’s Growth: This Week’s WI Watchlist

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

Gyms are packed, forlorn Christmas trees lie on curbs, and the Green Bay Packers are in the NFL playoffs—it must be January in Wisconsin. Make it a resolution to stay plugged into the state’s innovation community, starting with these recent headlines:

—Phoenix Nuclear Labs has raised $790,000 in debt financing, according to an SEC filing, and that figure could climb as high as $1.5 million. The Madison-based company has developed neutron-generating accelerator technology that has applications in areas like medial diagnostics, military imaging, and solar-cell production. Seven investors participated in the latest round, which brings the total amount raised by Phoenix to more than $4 million, according to regulatory documents.

—One company that uses Phoenix’s accelerator technology is Shine Medical Technologies, a Madison-based startup that said it has raised nearly $50 million in debt and equity financing since launching in 2010. Shine is racing competitors to produce a crucial radioisotope used in medical diagnostic imaging. The company plans to break ground on a production facility in southeastern Wisconsin next year and begin producing the isotope there in 2018, said Katrina Pitas, Shine’s vice president of business development.

—Steve Booth has been named CEO of Robert W. Baird & Co., the financial services firm said in a press release. Paul Purcell, who had held the position at Milwaukee-based Baird since 2000, will stay on as the company’s chairman. Booth will also continue to serve as Baird’s president, a role he was appointed to in 2014.

—Health records software developer Epic Systems now has 9,400 employees, up 18 percent from 8,000 workers a year ago, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Verona-based Epic said its 2014 revenues were $1.8 billion, and that its clients’ systems store records of 55 percent of the U.S. population.

—Speaking of Epic, the healthtech giant paid the Mayo Clinic, which is currently installing Epic’s software, $46 million for a data center located about five miles northwest of Mayo’s Rochester, MN, headquarters. The health system will lease space in the building from Epic for at least the next four years, said Mayo spokesperson Rhoda Madson, and has the option to continue its lease in perpetuity. Somewhat surprisingly, Mayo’s Epic records will not be hosted at the data center; instead, they’ll live on servers at Epic’s corporate campus.

—The Milwaukee-based BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation announced its two final investments of 2015, which were both for $50,000. One recipient was AkitaBox, a Madison-based startup that develops software for contractors and building managers; the other was Waukesha-based FloraSeq, which is developing treatments for patients with gastrointestinal ailments. In a press release, BrightStar portfolio manager Todd Sobotka said the group is hoping to make $2 million in new investments this year.

—Madison-based Cellectar Biosciences announced data from the first cohort of patients enrolled in a Phase 1 study of a radioisotope-based cancer therapeutic aimed at treating multiple myeloma. The study’s main goal is to assess the safety and tolerability of the drug. In a press release, Cellectar called the data “positive” and said that four out of five treated patients achieved “stable disease,” meaning a response that doesn’t meet any of the four response categories described by the International Myeloma Working Group.

—University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers found that early-stage companies—those five years old or younger—are responsible for 47 percent of job creation in Wisconsin, the Capital Times reported. But state policies tend to help older businesses more than startups, said Steven Deller, a UW-Madison professor who co-authored the study. “This growing importance of entrepreneurship is something that economists have known about for years, but policies tend to favor larger, established businesses,” Deller told the Times.

—Madison-based Healthfinch, which makes software to automate routine tasks performed by physicians and other workers who care for patients in clinics, raised $7.5 million in a Series A funding round. Since launching five years ago, Healthfinch has focused on creating standalone applications for things like fulfilling medication requests and planning visits to the doctor’s office. Now, it has introduced a platform tying the apps together, which Healthfinch co-founder and CEO Jonathan Baran said the company will continue to develop using the new financing.

—Some of Wisconsin’s more august companies have joined UW-Madison’s Internet of Things lab, a campus center for developing connected devices launched in 2014, the university said. The lab’s roster of corporate members now includes American Family Insurance, Rockwell Automation (NYSE: ROK), A. O. Smith (NYSE: AOS), and the Andersen Corp. Another 35 companies have expressed interest in sponsoring the lab, the school said.