Stemina, Connecture, & Epic: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist

The weather is heating up, and so is activity within Wisconsin’s innovation community. Stay in the know with these recent headlines:

—Stemina Biomarker Discovery, a Madison-based startup that’s developing a blood-based test for diagnostic autism spectrum disorder, raised another $2.4 million from investors, co-founder and CEO Elizabeth Donley said in an e-mail. The new money is a combination of debt and equity financing, according to documents filed with securities regulators. Stemina, which last month announced changes to its business structure and provided updates on a study of its test, has to date raised $10.8 million from investors and $7.5 million in grants, Donley said.

—Brookfield-based Connecture (NASDAQ: CNXR) acquired ConnectedHealth, a Chicago-based company whose technology helps users shop online for health insurance and other benefits. Connecture did not disclose the purchase price in a news release announcing the deal. The company, whose Web-based software is itself designed to aid consumers shopping for health plans, is “very enthusiastic about the synergies” between the two organizations, CEO Jeff Surges said in a prepared statement. In March, Connecture raised $52 million from investors in an effort to bolster its financial position.

—Verona-based health records software giant Epic Systems was dealt a legal setback after a Chicago appeals court ruled in favor of a former Epic employee who says the company denied overtime pay to him and some of his colleagues, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The lawsuit was originally filed in February 2015 by Jacob Lewis, who used to work at Epic as a technical writer. Lewis is alleging that the company violated labor laws when it required some employees to agree, as a condition of continued employment, that “any wage-and-hour claims” would be arbitrated individually, the newspaper reported. The appeals court ruled that employers do not have the right to require such agreements from their workers.

—Staying in the digital health records industry, Madison-based Redox has been selected to join Cisco’s Entrepreneurs in Residence program. Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) runs the six-month corporate venture program, which will take place near the company’s headquarters in Silicon Valley. The program is aimed at helping startups like Redox, whose software helps broker connections to healthcare organization’s health records systems, accelerate their growth and connect with investors and leaders in technology.

—Wisconsin and the Milwaukee area both fared poorly in comparisons of states and metropolitan areas ranked by their ability to drive entrepreneurial business growth. The 2016 Kauffman Index of Growth Entrepreneurship placed Wisconsin third-to-last among the 25 most populous U.S. states in terms of growth entrepreneurship; that’s down three spots from last year, when the Badger State ranked 20th-best. The “Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis” region fell 10 spots, to 31st-best, among the country’s 40 largest metropolitan areas, from its 21st-place finish in 2015.

—Madison-based Blackriver Systems, which according to an SEC filing raised $550,000 from investors in January, is on the verge of raising another $300,000, founder and CEO Eric Lynn said in a message to Xconomy. According to its website, Blackriver is developing tools that allow users to “find and share cycling experiences.” For now, additional details are scant—it’s not clear whether Blackriver is working on a mobile app, cloud-based software, or another type of technology. Lynn, who recently spent five months in Bulgaria working alongside a team of nine … Next Page »

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