Telkonet, Wantable, Marquette, & More: This Week’s WI Watchlist
March into April by staying current on news from Wisconsin’s innovation community, starting with these recent headlines:
—Telkonet, a Waukesha-based company that develops hardware and software to connect machines to the Internet, and to each other, sold one of its business divisions to Syosset, NY-based DCI-Design Communications. The price paid for the business unit, which is known as EthoStream and focuses in part on outfitting hotels with Wi-Fi, was not disclosed in a press release announcing the deal. Telkonet (OTCMKTS: TKOI) said it will use the proceeds from the sale to support the expansion of its EcoSmart product line, which encompasses wireless thermostats and other connected devices.
—Wantable, a Milwaukee-based startup that ships customers boxes of goods each month that contain garments, beauty products, and other accessories, scrapped plans to move into new digs a couple miles away from its current headquarters, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The startup’s plans to relocate first surfaced in December, but were reportedly dropped after Wantable learned there were major structural problems with the building it planned to move into. The company, which has grown to about 100 employees, is now exploring other options for expanding or relocating, the newspaper reported.
—Milwaukee-based Promentis Pharmaceuticals, which is developing drugs designed to modify brain chemistry to treat central nervous system disorders, raised more than $17.2 million from investors. The financing comes about five months after an $8.8 million fundraising in October. Around that time, Chad Beyer, who had previously served as president and CEO of Promentis, became the company’s senior vice president of research and development. Its current CEO is Klaus Veitinger, who is also a venture partner at OrbiMed, a New York-based fund that co-led Promentis’s latest funding round.
—Staying on the topic of venture capital, leaders of VC funds housed within two Wisconsin-based companies spoke about their investment strategies and progress at an event in Madison earlier this week. The two investors who spoke were from CMFG Ventures and Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, both of which are part of large insurance and financial services businesses. Each has come onto the scene in the past six months, joining AmFam Ventures, which is part of Madison-based American Family Insurance and exited stealth mode in 2014.
—Another event recap from this week was on a panel discussion about current and potential future applications for blockchain technology. Blockchain makes it possible to create a public record of transactional data so that those transactions can later be authenticated. At the same time, the technology is flexible enough to allow the parties involved to keep certain information private by encrypting it. It has applications in industries such as financial services, insurance, and healthcare.
—Marquette University opened what it is calling 707 Hub, a new collaborative space that features high-tech amenities like 3D printers and computer-aided design software. The school, located in Milwaukee, has taken steps to boost entrepreneurship under president Michael Lovell, who was introduced in 2014. Those steps include the creation of a fund for investing in early-stage businesses. For more information on 707 Hub and to see photos of the space, check out this Milwaukee Business Journal report.
—Shares in Madison-based Exact Sciences rose on news that Aetna (NYSE: AET), a large health insurer based in Hartford, CT, will cover a stool-based DNA screening test for colorectal cancer developed by Exact Sciences (NASDAQ: EXAS). The test, which is called Cologuard, is now covered by health plans in the U.S. whose members together represent about 80 percent of the total addressable market for Cologuard, according to a research note by an analyst at Cowen and Company.
—The Wisconsin State Journal profiled Re Mixers, a Madison-based startup that’s seeking to commercialize a nozzle designed for blending epoxy and hardener to produce adhesives. Xconomy wrote about the company, and its plans to raise $500,000 in seed funding, in December. Re Mixers has since completed that funding round, according to the State Journal report.
—Gener8tor, a startup accelerator that has held programs in Wisconsin and Minnesota, announced the 10 companies currently participating in its six-week, equity-free accelerator, known as gBETA. There are currently two classes going through gBETA; one of the programs is being held in Madison, while the other is in Beloit, a city in southeastern Wisconsin. The products being developed by participating startups range from digital fundraising tools to software for bond traders to an Internet-connected scale that tracks weight trends.