Titan Spine, Alfred, IoT, & More: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist
The year 2016 will soon be in the rear-view mirror. Catch up on news from Wisconsin’s innovation community, and take a look ahead to 2017, with these recent headlines:
—The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel profiled Titan Spine, a Mequon-based company that makes titanium cages of various shapes and sizes designed for spinal surgeons to use when operating on patients. The article includes a look back at a key meeting in 2009 between one of the company’s co-founders and Barbara Boyan, then a cell biologist at Emory University in Atlanta. After Titan called Boyan and gave her a sales pitch, the researcher, who had for years studied bone healing, told leaders at the company that they may be on to something. Further discussions with Boyan, who is now the dean of Virginia Commonwealth University’s engineering school, reportedly led Titan to develop its line of Endoskleton devices, which are designed to mimic the coarse surface of bones.
The company said in October that it had kicked off nationwide sales of surgical implants that feature a more advanced version of its nanotextured surface technology, for which the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services created a new medical billing code.
—Alfred, which has developed ridesharing technology similar—but not identical—to that of companies like Uber and Lyft, launched last month in Madison, where the startup is based, Isthmus reported. Among the key differences between those two Silicon Valley market leaders and Alfred are that the latter company owns a fleet of high-end cars, and only allows passengers to get rides from drivers who have passed a driving exam. (With Uber and Lyft, the most popular option is to get a ride from a driver who operates his or her own vehicle.) Founder Josh Massey reportedly plans to partner with Madison-area hotels and breweries, and hopes to eventually bring the service to more cities, including Milwaukee and additional Midwestern college towns.
—Matt Cordio, the co-founder of Startup Milwaukee and founder of Skills Pipeline, which helps IT companies find workers, compiled a list of “11 Milwaukee-Area Startups to Watch in 2017.” The list includes companies such as Intellivisit, Rent College Pads, Wantable, and Lumanu, which was part of the most recent class to graduate from the startup accelerator Gener8tor.
—Xemex Static Mixer, a Madison-based startup that’s seeking to commercialize a nozzle designed for blending two-part adhesives, raised $250,000 in equity funding from a single investor. The disposable device, which contains no moving parts and was developed using simulation software to test the efficacy of different part shapes, could be used by manufacturers that sell to general contractors or medical and dental care providers, among other industries. Xemex co-founder and CEO Eric Ronning said his company’s nozzle reduces the amount of wasted adhesive by about half, compared with some of the static mixers that are currently on the market.
—The Capital Times reported on some of the individuals and businesses in the Madison area working to develop technologies in the category known as Internet of Things, or IoT. The IoT and “connected home” trends involve manufacturers taking formerly offline devices and updating them with Internet capabilities—think of Nest’s thermostat. The startups mentioned in the article include Allergy Amulet, OneEvent Technologies, and Propeller Health. It also looked at iMyK9, which is developing pet-monitoring tools owners can use while their animals are sitting alone in the car.
—Cellular Dynamics is planning to build a new, 100,000-square-foot cell-manufacturing and research facility in Verona, which is located about seven miles southwest of the company’s current headquarters in Madison. According to a proposal Cellular Dynamics submitted to the City of Verona, the new facility would be able to accommodate the company’s 130-plus employees based in Wisconsin, and could be expanded in the future. The proposal does not include an estimate of the project cost or a timeline for building and moving into the new facility.