Stemina, Abele, Stem Pharm, & IoT: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist
Catch up on news from Wisconsin’s innovation community with these recent headlines:
—A blood test developed by Madison-based Stemina Biomarker Discovery that would help determine whether children with autism disorder are able to process certain foods or vitamin supplements could become available in the next year, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. NeuroPointDX, a division of Stemina focused on diagnostics for neurological disorders, is leading a study that kicked off in late 2015 and is aimed at exposing its blood-based test across a large set of patients. So far, more than 570 children have reportedly been tested. NeuroPointDX is seeking to have a total of 1,500 children participate in the study, which is known as the Children’s Autism Metabolome Project, or CAMP. Stemina’s ultimate objective is to commercialize a test that makes it possible to diagnose children with autism disorder at earlier ages than is typical today.
Stemina plans to raise up to $25 million in outside investment to expand its 15-person team, obtain more lab space, and continue to fund the CAMP study, the newspaper reported.
—I am a little late getting to these, but there were two articles by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Kathleen Gallagher published earlier this month that would likely be of interest to Xconomy Wisconsin readers. One is a profile of Chris Abele, who serves as Milwaukee county executive and has backed the venture fund CSA Partners as well as Ward 4, a startup hub near the city’s downtown. According to the report, Abele is considering opening a second physical space where entrepreneurs can congregate, and he has discussed some of his ideas with Mike Lovell, president of Marquette University.
The second Journal Sentinel article is about the emerging community of individual, or angel, investors in the Milwaukee area who back early-stage companies.
—Gener8tor, an organization that has run training programs for startups in Wisconsin and Minnesota since launching in 2012, said it plans to introduce a three-week “hackathon and accelerator hybrid” later this year. The new program, called gALPHA, is aimed at helping individuals and small teams develop ideas for new products and brainstorm business models for selling them. Gener8tor said it has not yet determined where the inaugural gALPHA program will take place.
—The University of Wisconsin-Madison news service profiled Stem Pharm, a startup spun out of research at the school whose products include a “customizable Jell-O-like material” capable of supporting stem cells as they grow. These cells could help pharmaceuticals companies evaluate new drugs they’re developing, or be used as replacement tissues by groups in the regenerative medicine field, UW-Madison said. The company was founded in 2015 by William Murphy, a biomedical engineering professor at UW-Madison who co-directs the university’s Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center.
—Elucent Medical, a medical device startup that’s seeking to commercialize a biocompatible clip and detection system for breast cancer treatment, said it raised $7.2 million from investors last year. Elucent’s clip would replace the metal clip that today is inserted into the cancer patient at the time of a breast biopsy. The company has roots and employees in Wisconsin but is headquartered in Eden Prairie, MN, due in part to the large number of experienced medical devices professionals in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, said CEO Laura King.
—BizTimes Media published a report examining some of the possible trends in the manufacturing sector that could emerge in 2017. One is the combination of the Internet of Things—where previously offline devices such as lamps and thermostats are updated with Internet capabilities—with advanced manufacturing and software analytics. That trend was suggested to BizTimes Media by Doug Fisher, an assistant professor at Marquette University who directs the school’s Center for Supply Chain Management.
—Alfalight, a company founded in Madison in 1998 that initially developed optoelectronic products for the telecommunications market before changing course to focus on producing laser systems, was acquired last year by U.K.-based Gooch & Housego for $1.3 million. Tens of millions of dollars came into Alfalight over the years, in the form of outside investment and grants awarded to the company by defense contractors and intelligence groups, including the CIA. One possible reason Alfalight did not fetch a high purchase price relative to the amount of funding that had flowed into the business over time is that it reportedly sold certain assets and commercial product lines to Phoenix-based Compound Photonics in 2013.