Brookings Report, Imbed, & Coinigy: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist
Keep up with the latest news from Wisconsin’s innovation community with these recent headlines:
—The Washington-based Brookings Institution released a report on trends in what the think tank calls “America’s advanced industries,” a group of 50 sectors with large numbers of STEM professionals. Madison, the 88th largest metropolitan area in the U.S. by population, was home to more than 44,000 advanced industries jobs in 2015, 49th most in the nation. The annual growth rate in such jobs since 2013 is 6 percent, good for 11th place nationally.
Milwaukee, the country’s 39th largest metropolitan area, last year had more than 85,000 advanced industries jobs, 30th most in the U.S. According to the report, the number of advanced industries jobs in that city increased 0.7 percent annually from 2013 to 2015, which ranked 69th-best nationally.
—Fitchburg-based Imbed Biosciences, which is seeking to commercialize an ultra-thin wound dressing material invented in a lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, received FDA clearance to market the dressing for human use, the university said. The regulator cleared the dressing, which is underpinned by antimicrobial, nanofilm technology designed to help wounds heal without infection or the use of potentially harmful levels of silver, as a class II medical device for over-the-counter and prescription use, UW-Madison said. The material, a water-based gel called Microlyte Ag, contains lower amounts of silver than dressings made by Imbed’s competitors, said CEO Ankit Agarwal.
—Cellectar Biosciences (NASDAQ: CLRB) received a $2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute that the Madison-based biotech said will help support a Phase 2 clinical study of its leading drug candidate. The funding, which represents the second phase of a Small Business Innovation Research award from the institute, is aimed at advancing a candidate that Cellectar said had the potential to treat multiple myeloma and other types of blood cancer.
—Milwaukee-based Coinigy, which is developing software that allows users to make trades using Bitcoin and other digital currencies, raised $400,000 from a single investor, the Bitcoin news website CoinDesk reported. The company said it will use some of the money to hire more developers and create a new version of its trading platform. Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer payment system that relies on blockchain encryption technology and was first introduced in 2008.
—The U.S. Army awarded two contracts worth a combined $3.6 million to Phoenix Nuclear Labs, a Madison-based developer of accelerator technology with applications in areas like munitions inspections and medical imaging. One of the contracts calls for Phoenix to deliver a neutron radiography system to the Army that it can use to detect defective weapons. Under the terms of the second contract, Phoenix will attempt to show that its technology can identify concealed explosives as far as 20 meters away, said Evan Sengbusch, the company’s vice president of business development.
—Madison Commons profiled Breathe for Change, a startup and nonprofit launched last year whose mission is to introduce mind-body wellness programs in low-income school districts. The company was founded by Ilana Nankin, a former teacher who received a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison earlier this year. The startup’s approach involves having teachers, administrators, and other staff members at schools complete 200 hours of wellness and yoga training, Nankin said. Michael Fenchel, Breathe for Change’s vice president and chief operating officer, is the co-founder and president of another Madison-based startup, OneSolstice.
—We wrapped up our series on physician-entrepreneurs at UW Hospital and Clinics with a story that examines how some of these doctors felt crossing from the world of medicine and patient care into the business world. Some of the physician-founded startups we looked at hired CEOs from outside once the companies had reached a certain point of maturity. But one of them, HealthDecision, continues to be led by its cardiologist founder, Jon Keevil; earlier this summer, Keevil left his job at the hospital to focus on the startup full-time.