Kiio, HealthTech Capitol, & Exact Sciences: This Week’s WI Watchlist
Power through the dog days of summer with these recent headlines from Wisconsin’s innovation community:
—Madison-based Kiio raised $227,000 in debt financing from three investors, according to an SEC filing. Kiio is developing software-enabled bands that provide resistance during rehabilitative exercises and help physical therapists gauge the strength of patients. Founded in 2011, Kiio has now raised more than $4.1 million, according to regulatory documents.
—Jamey Weichert, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Madison-based Cellectar Biosciences, has resigned from the company. His last day is Friday, according to a document filed with the SEC. Shares in Cellectar (NASDAQ: CLRB) were down more than 10 percent during early trading on Friday.
—The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profiled Zach Brandon, who since 2012 has served as president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce. Brandon is bullish on AOL co-founder Steve Case’s “third wave” theory on the future of entrepreneurship in the U.S., which touts the importance of forging cross-industry partnerships in order to revolutionize “real-world” sectors like healthcare, education, and energy. Brandon told the newspaper that one example of the third wave in Wisconsin is the “health highway” in the southern part of the state, which includes Madison’s healthtech cluster.
—In related news, Madison’s Chamber of Commerce launched HealthTech Capitol, a consortium and website aimed at helping the city become a world-class leader for health innovation. Members include large organizations (Epic Systems and UW Health), as well as startups (Healthfinch, Moxe Health, Redox, and Wellbe, just to name a few). “HealthTech Capitol will help build on [Madison’s existing] strengths by supporting companies and talent in our region and building an infrastructure that will amplify our health discoveries to the world,” Brandon said in a press release.
—Mequon-based Titan Spine raised an undisclosed amount of financing from Southlake Equity Group, a private equity firm based in Southlake, TX. Peter Ullrich, co-founder and CEO of Titan Spine, said his company will use some of the money to launch a new line of surgical implant products for patients with degenerative disc disease. Ullrich said Titan might start shipping the new devices as soon as August.
—The National Committee for Quality Assurance has proposed including Cologuard, a stool-based diagnostic test for colorectal cancer developed by Madison-based Exact Sciences (NASDAQ: EXAS), in a set of quality measures for cancer screening. More than 90 percent of health plans in the U.S. measure quality based on the committee’s recommendations, Exact said. Kevin Conroy, CEO of Exact Sciences, said that, “Primary care physicians and health plans are increasingly financially incentivized to demonstrate improvements in quality as measured by data, such as colon cancer screening rates. Cologuard’s inclusion in [the set of quality measures] is an important step toward helping them achieve better quality scores.”
—In the latest installment of Xconomy Wisconsin’s series on UW Health physicians who have become entrepreneurs, I profiled Hans Sollinger, a transplant surgeon and co-founder of Insulete. The Madison-based diabetes treatment startup is seeking to commercialize an experimental gene therapy designed to coax a patient’s liver cells into producing insulin. Sollinger said that Insulete is preparing a clinical trial in diabetic dogs, which the company and its collaborators hope to get underway later this year.
—Ben West, chief technology officer at Madison-based Health eFilings, explained in a Q&A with the Huffington Post why he has pledged to live on the minimum wage, part of his embrace of the Effective Altruism movement. “Ninety percent of the world lives on less than minimum wage, so while it does involve some changes, it’s not terribly dramatic,” he told the website. West worked at Epic Systems for eight years before helping to launch Health eFilings, whose software helps physicians file reports for the Physician Quality Reporting System.
—A report from the Wisconsin Technology Council found that in 2015, venture capital funds and angel investors pumped at least $209 million into early-stage companies headquartered in the Badger State. That’s down from $346 million in 2014, though that year’s total was propped up by one outsize round of funding. Among the encouraging findings in the report for champions of startups in Wisconsin was the number of them that raised $1 million or more last year: 46, up from 38 in 2014 and 27 in 2013.