Silatronix, Propeller, BrainXell, & More: This Week’s WI Watchlist
The 2016 presidential campaign is coming to a close and for many, not a day too soon. Renew your faith in humanity with these recent headlines from Wisconsin’s innovation community:
—Madison-based Silatronix—a developer of silicon-based materials that can be used as electrolytes in batteries and other energy storage devices—was on a list of “10 Startups to Watch” compiled by Chemical & Engineering News. The materials Silatronix makes, which are partially made of organosilicon compounds containing carbon-silicon bonds, can function as electrolytes in lithium-ion batteries.
Paul Hamers, one of the company’s co-founders, told Chemical & Engineering News that Silatronix’s materials are blended with carbonate solvents at lower concentrations than some of the electrolytes in lithium-ion batteries currently on the market. Those lower concentrations might help prevent unwanted chemical reactions, he said, such as the ones that have made news for causing some Samsung phones to burst into flames recently.
—Propeller Health announced that it received FDA clearance to market a sensor it has developed for use with Ellipta, a dry powder inhaler made by the U.K.-based pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK). Propeller is a Madison-based startup that makes Internet-connected inhalers and sensors designed to help patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The company built a custom sensor for Ellipta as part of a partnership with GSK announced late last year. To date, Propeller has received eight FDA clearances for its products.
—Milwaukee-based Bright Cellars, a startup that delivers bottles of wine to customers each month and solicits their feedback, said it is now also shipping boxes of Wisconsin-made cheeses. Co-founder and CEO Richard Yau said that people can sign up for the Bright Cellars “cheese experience” even if they’re not part of the startup’s wine club. For those interested in receiving both wine and cheese, Bright Cellars employees are available to suggest pairings, Yau said.
—The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee said that its Innovation Campus is one of two programs that will benefit from a $1 million gift from the Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Foundation. The Innovation Campus, located just west of Milwaukee in Wauwatosa, is home to organizations such as Bridge to Cures and TAI Diagnostics. The other program that will share in the foundation’s gift is the UW-Milwaukee Research Foundation’s Catalyst Grant Program, which supports the commercialization of scientific and engineering discoveries.
—UW-Madison’s news service profiled BrainXell, a company spun out of human stem cell research performed at the university. BrainXell, which was launched in 2015 and made its first sale earlier this year, turns stem cells into neurons in its laboratory, then sells those cells to other scientists, some of whom are working to develop new drugs. One of the company’s co-founders, Su-Chun Zhang, was the first researcher to develop neurons from human embryonic stem cells, the university said.
—Redox, a Madison-based startup that focuses on brokering connections to the electronic health records systems used at many hospitals and clinics, said it partnered with Carlsbad, CA-based Breg. Best known as a maker of braces, splints, and other devices that can help rehabilitate injured patients, Breg’s product line also includes software for managing inventory and recording information on patients and their devices. By pairing with Redox, Breg said it expects to be able to set up connections between its software and health records systems three to four times faster than it could before.
—Cellectar Biosciences announced new details pertaining to a Phase 2 clinical trial of its leading drug candidate, which has the potential to treat multiple myeloma and other types of blood cancer. Madison-based Cellectar (NASDAQ: CLRB) said the study, which is supported by a $2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute, will take place at 15 research centers across the U.S. All patients in the trial will be dosed with Cellectar’s drug candidate, which is known as CLR 131; those with multiple myeloma will also receive oral dexamethasone, which is used to treat blood disorders and certain types of cancer. Cellectar said it expects the study to start early next year, and said it could have initial efficacy data by the end of 2017.
—Midwestern BioAg, a Madison-based manufacturer and distributor of fertilizers, seed, and other products designed to improve soil health and increase crop yields, raised $21.3 million from investors. All of the funds and organizations Midwestern BioAg named in its press release announcing the financing round are based outside of Wisconsin. Part of the company’s approach is working with farmers to create farm management plans detailing which Midwestern BioAg products they should use on their crops, and when.
—More fundraising news: Madison-based Simplifide, which is developing digital tools to help verify identities based on physical characteristics, raised $1 million from angel investors. Jeff McAllister, co-founder and CEO of Simplifide, said that organizations his company is targeting as customers, such as hospitals, would be able to have patients transmit photos or finger or eye scans they take themselves. Then, he said, registration desk workers would use Simplifide’s software to verify that patients are who they say they are.