Drones, Understory, & Cellectar: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist

Catch up on news from Wisconsin’s innovation community with these recent headlines:

—Industries as diverse as insurance, agriculture, and construction are now using drones or considering it, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The benefits to using these unmanned flying machines include worker productivity and safety, when it comes to tasks such as inspecting wind turbines. As the use of drones proliferates, some are concerned about them invading the flight paths of airplanes, which reportedly happened near the Dane County Regional Airport last year.

—MobileIgniter said it will shut down next month, five years after Tim Nott and Dominic DiMarco launched the Madison-based startup. MobileIgniter’s focus has been on the Internet of Things, where device makers take formerly offline machines and update them with Internet capabilities. One thing MobileIgniter struggled with was the long sales cycles favored by many of the large agricultural and manufacturing organizations the startup targeted, Nott said.

—Speaking of the Internet of Things, Milwaukee public radio station WUWM reported on the movement and some of the local groups that have ties to it. The Milwaukee-based companies mentioned in the article include Rockwell Automation (NYSE: ROK) and OnKol, a box-shaped device aimed at older adults that ties together myriad home and health monitoring devices.

—Madison-based Invenra raised more than $3 million from 27 investors, said Mark Kubik, the company’s vice president of business development. Invenra’s cell-free protein expression technology allows for the screening of hundreds of thousands of full antibodies, and is much faster than conventional cell-based methods for finding therapeutic antibodies. Kubik said his company will use some of the money to fulfill the agreements it’s made with drug companies, including U.K.-based Oxford BioTherapeutics.

—The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s news service profiled Understory, a Madison-based startup that has engineered a solar-powered device that monitors weather information, including wind, temperature, humidity, rain, and hail. In February, Understory raised a $7.5 million Series A funding round and announced it was moving back to Wisconsin from the Boston area.

—I spoke with Chris Anzalone, president and CEO of Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARWR) about key progress the company has made. Arrowhead, which is based in Pasadena, CA, but houses its R&D operations in Madison, currently has two drug candidates in human trials. One is for the hepatitis B virus, which Anzalone said affects between 350 and 400 million people worldwide. Arrowhead’s other candidate, which is for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, has been designated by the FDA as an orphan drug.

—Madison-based Cellectar Biosciences (NASDAQ: CLRB) named Jarrod Longcor as the company’s senior vice president of corporate development and operations. Longcor has worked in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries for more than 20 years, Cellectar said in a press release. Most recently, he was chief business officer at Avillion, a drug developer based in the U.K.

Longcor’s hire marks the second major personnel change at Cellectar in recent weeks. On July 14, the company announced that co-founder and chief scientific officer Jamey Weichert had tendered his resignation. Weichert’s last day was July 15.

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