Epic, VC Totals, Shine, & More: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist
Keep up with the latest news from Wisconsin’s innovation community with these recent headlines:
—The United States Supreme Court will hear a case involving Verona-based Epic Systems and whether organizations can make it mandatory for employees to sign arbitration agreements that keep them from pursuing group claims in court, the Associated Press reported. Groups of current and former employees at Epic, which develops software that hospitals and clinics use to manage patient records, had previously filed multiple lawsuits claiming they were denied overtime pay. Epic settled one of the lawsuits in 2014 by agreeing to pay a set of employees who test the company’s software a combined $5.4 million, as the Wisconsin State Journal reported at the time.
—Investors poured $240.6 million into Wisconsin-based companies last year, across 68 deals tracked by Seattle-based PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association. That total was up by about 8 percent from 2015, when businesses in the Badger State raised more than $222.7 million across 87 deals, according to data from the two groups. Some of the largest funding rounds went to six Madison-based companies: EatStreet, Ionic, Midwestern BioAg, Propeller Health, Silatronix, and Understory.
Wisconsin’s increase in funding during the final six months of 2016 as compared with the first half of the year—$154 million versus $86.6 million—bucked the broader national trend.
—Madison-based Exact Sciences (NASDAQ: EXAS) released preliminary numbers from the fourth quarter of 2016—and the year as a whole—to which investors reacted favorably. Exact is developing tools to screen for cancer, including a stool-based DNA test for colorectal cancer known as Cologuard. Exact’s 2016 revenues and the number of Cologuard tests it reported completing last year were both higher than most observers had anticipated. Meanwhile, some analysts project that the company could “reach initial profitability” in 2019.
—The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a lengthy article on Access HealthNet, a company based in that paper’s eponymous city, which gives employees of business clients the ability to purchase and schedule common medical procedures from local providers. Access HealthNet’s service, which is reportedly meant to be used by organizations that self-insure, incentivizes employees to seek care from healthcare providers that are able to control costs effectively.
—Milwaukee-based Microbe Detectives, which uses DNA sequencing to analyze samples of wastewater, well water, and drinking water to identify different types of bacteria, announced a multiyear partnership with Mandeville, LA-based Environmental Business Specialists. EBS provides wastewater consulting services, and the goal of the partnership is to “advance performance of wastewater systems across North America in food processing, chemical processing, pulp and paper mills, and petroleum refineries,” according to a news release.
—Wisbusiness.com profiled Pro-Boards, which has created a computer keyboard designed with words and phrases frequently used by lawyers. The keyboard, which the company calls LegalBoard, was reportedly the brainchild of Brian Potts, a Madison-based attorney at the firm Perkins Coie.
—Milwaukee-based Mortara Instrument, a manufacturer of electrocardiograph machines and other medical devices used to monitor patients, was bought by Chicago-based Hill-Rom Holdings (NYSE: HRC). The holding company paid $330 million in cash to acquire Mortara.
—Milwaukee-based REV Group, which manufactures fire trucks, ambulances, and other specialty vehicles, plans to raise up to $262 million as part of an initial public offering, MarketWatch reported. The lead underwriters on the IPO are reportedly Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Robert W. Baird & Co. REV Group will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “REVG.”
—Janesville-based Shine Medical Technologies, which is working to resume domestic production of the vital medical isotope molybdenum-99, raised another $15.6 million from investors, according to a document filed with federal securities regulators. The document is an amendment of another filing from a year ago in which Shine said it had raised $11.5 million in debt financing.
—Two Milwaukee-based funds announced plans to start investing in startups from separate $50 million pools of capital. One of the new funds will operate as part of the life insurance giant Northwestern Mutual, and make investments in the range of $500,000 to $3 million in early-stage companies. The other $50 million fund was raised by Capital Midwest Fund, the Milwaukee Business Journal reported.
—U.K.-based Silence Therapeutics made a $9.6 million equity investment in Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARWR), which is headquartered in Pasadena, CA, but conducts research and development operations in Madison. Silence, which is developing therapies designed to work in a similar way as Arrowhead’s, said it acquired about 8.4 percent of the outstanding shares of common stock in Arrowhead.
—GrocerKey raised $700,000 in equity funding from three investors, and is on the verge of taking on an additional $1 million in debt financing. The Madison-based grocery ordering and delivery service has also recently grown its client list to a dozen grocers, said founder and CEO Jeremy Neren.
—Another Madison-based startup focused on making grocery shopping more high-tech, Fetch Rewards, raised nearly $800,000 in debt financing, according to an SEC filing. Fetch has now raised about $9.3 million since launching in 2014.