Kick off the week by checking out these recent headlines from Wisconsin’s innovation community:
—MobCraft Beer co-founder Henry Schwartz appeared on “Shark Tank”—a show on the ABC network in which entrepreneurs pitch ideas to investors—but there was no deal reached, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Kevin O’Leary, one of the “sharks” to whom Schwartz pitched, said he disagreed with Madison-based MobCraft’s decision to build its own brewery in Milwaukee, rather than renting out space at an existing facility. MobCraft was reportedly seeking $400,000 in exchange for a 16 percent equity stake, which would have valued the startup at $2.5 million.
—Project Foundry, a Milwaukee-based edtech startup whose official name is Keystone Insights, Inc., closed its $1.25 million seed round, according to an SEC filing. CEO Bill Mortimore previously told Xconomy that his company planned to use the money to double its eight-person staff by December, and continue marketing its project-based learning software to schools and school districts.
—The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profiled 23VIVI, a virtual storefront for limited edition art that uses blockchain technology to ensure artists don’t have their work stolen and collectors don’t purchase fakes. An artist uploads a submission to the startup’s website and, if accepted, 23VIVI makes 23 copies of the piece and attempts to sell them on its marketplace. Pricing is reportedly incremental: The first edition costs $18, the second costs $19, and so on. Madison-based 23VIVI is one of five startups in the Wisconsin accelerator Gener8tor’s current class; the company previously graduated from gBETA, a shorter, no-strings-attached accelerator that’s also run by Gener8tor.
—The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, which manages patents and licensing for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, announced that effective July 1, Erik Iverson will become managing director. Iverson, 47, is currently president of business and operations for the Seattle-based Infectious Disease Research Institute, a nonprofit that helps lead a variety of global health-related research and development projects. In an interview with Xconomy, Iverson said that anchors like UW-Madison and Epic Systems will be key if Madison is to become a technology hub on par with Seattle.
—The Water Council’s accelerator—dubbed “Business. Research. Entrepreneurship. In Wisconsin,” or the BREW—has committed to launching 75 water-focused startups over the next five years, according to a news release. The council said its collaborators on the initiative are water heater maker A. O. Smith (NYSE: AOS) and water management company Rexnord (NYSE: RXN), both based in Milwaukee, and France-based Veolia, which helps clients manage water and wastewater, among other services. The pledge was made last Tuesday as part of the White House’s inaugural Water Summit, at which more than 150 U.S. organizations made water-related commitments, The Water Council said.
—Madison-based Propeller Health said it has launched a new program as part of its partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim, a German pharmaceutical giant whose products include the Respimat inhaler. The program is aimed at providing a version of the inhaler equipped with an add-on sensor developed by Propeller to certain patients who already use the Respimat to treat asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Joe Slavinsky, a vice president at Propeller, said that his company will work with Boehringer Ingelheim’s sales force to finalize a list of health systems where the two groups will attempt to enroll patients.
—More than 24,000 of Wisconsin‘s residents work in the clean energy industry, according to a report from Clean Energy Trust. The industry is projected to grow 4.8 percent a year in the Badger State, sixth fastest among the 12 Midwestern states surveyed. “Wisconsin has a strong bioenergy subsector within renewable energy generation, with over 20 percent of renewable energy coming from bioenergy,” according to the report.
—Mount Horeb-based OneEvent Technologies has raised $710,000 in convertible debt financing, and co-founder Kurt Wedig said he expects that figure to reach $2.5 million by the end of April. Founded in 2011, OneEvent develops software to make smoke detectors more sensitive and transform them into versatile devices for monitoring commercial and residential buildings. The pre-revenue company has raised a total of $2.5 million, Wedig said, the majority of which came from a $1.8 million equity funding round announced in September.
—Brookfield-based Connecture (NASDAQ: CNXR), which develops Web-based software designed to aid consumers shopping for health insurance, said it has raised $52 million from investors in an attempt to strengthen its financial position. The two groups who provided the funding were Francisco Partners, a private equity firm based in San Francisco, and Louisville, KY-based Chrysalis Ventures. Private investment in public equity—or PIPE—deals such as this one frequently involve cash-strapped businesses, according to reporting by the Wall Street Journal.