Flint’s Water, Wicab, & New Leaders: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

The water crisis in Flint, MI, funding announcements, and personnel changes are among these recent headlines from Wisconsin’s innovation community:

—The physician who detected problems with Flint’s water supply and escalated her findings, bringing to light the city’s current water crisis, did so using software developed by Verona-based Epic Systems, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, examined results of blood tests on children that were stored in her employer’s Epic health records database. “If we were still on paper, it would have taken forever to get these results,” Hanna-Attisha told the State Journal.

—Middleton-based Wicab, whose “BrainPort” device allows blind people to, in a way, “see” the world around them by substituting touch for sight, has raised $975,000 in equity financing, according to a regulatory filing. Using a small camera fastened to sunglasses, the device converts video signals to electronic impulses that are felt on the user’s tongue. In June, the FDA gave Wicab the green light to start selling the BrainPort in the U.S.

—BluDiagnostics, a Madison-based startup that last month raised $600,000 as part of a seed funding round, has now raised another $550,000, according to an SEC filing. The three-person startup is developing a saliva-based fertility test for women, and a complementary app that displays results to patients and physicians.

—Jason Weaver has returned to Madison to join Bad Donkey Social (BDS) Mobile, a startup that says it is developing technology to allow users to embed branded content within text messages. In 2004, Weaver founded Shoutlet, which sells cloud-based software that helps companies measure the impact of online marketing campaigns; Shoutlet was based in Madison before being acquired by Austin, TX-based Spredfast last August. Weaver left Shoutlet in 2013 and later became CEO of Nashville-based Spendsetter, BDS said.

—Douglas Jermasek has replaced Hector DeLuca as CEO of Madison-based Deltanoid Pharmaceuticals, which is developing a Vitamin D-based drug to treat a common hormonal side effect of dialysis. DeLuca, who co-founded Deltanoid more than a decade ago and has spent his life researching Vitamin D and building companies based on the compound, will now be Deltanoid’s president, chairman, and COO. Jermasek previously served as an executive at Cambridge, MA-based Genzyme, Deltanoid said.

—Speaking of leadership changes, Murfie co-founders Matt Younkle and Preston Austin are stepping aside from the startup’s day-do-day operations, but will remain “strategic advisors,” Younkle said in an e-mail. Madison-based Murfie, an online music market that will convert collections of compact discs and vinyl records into high-quality digital audio files, has named Chris Wheeler as its new CEO.

—The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profiled Granular, a Milwaukee-based startup that helps businesses place ads based on queries entered into search engines. Jordon Meyer launched Granular in 2014 with help from Scott Alderton, a founding partner at Epuipatron, a Mequon-based seller of engines and power equipment. Granular has helped one of its clients, the FM station 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, increase its web traffic increase sixfold, the Journal Sentinel reported.

—Madison-based HealthMyne was selected as the “Most Promising Company” at the Personalized Medicine World Conference in Silicon Valley; HealthMyne was the first business from the Midwest to win the award, company spokesman Del Coufal said in an e-mail. The startup’s software integrates medical imaging data and information from patients’ electronic health records, and presents the results to radiologists and oncologists. HealthMyne was founded in 2013 by a team of successful, Madison-based serial entrepreneurs who wanted to launch a healthtech company.

—Virent, a Madison-based cleantech company that’s developing biofuels it says can replace crude oil, inked a partnership with Tesoro (NYSE: TSO), a San Antonio-based petroleum refiner. Under the terms of the deal, Tesoro will provide funding to help further develop—and, eventually, commercialize—bio-based fuels and chemicals made using Virent’s technology. Virent CEO Lee Edwards declined to share financial terms of the tie-up, but said it will resemble Virent’s royalty-based agreement with another energy giant, Royal Dutch Shell.

—The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. said it has awarded a $750,000 grant to … Next Page »

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