Epic, UW Spinoffs, CDI, & More: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist
Stay current on news from Wisconsin’s innovation community, starting with these recent headlines:
—The Capital Times published a lengthy profile of Judy Faulkner, founder and CEO of Verona-based Epic Systems. Epic develops software that healthcare organizations use to do everything from scheduling appointments to documenting information on patients in clinical settings to tracking the charges that end up on hospital bills. The profile examines Faulkner’s background and family life, and how she was mentored by two resident physicians at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics prior to starting the company that would become Epic in 1979. The newspaper also posted a transcript of its interview with Faulkner to its website.
—Rowheels, a Fitchburg-based startup that engineers wheels designed to put less strain on the muscles of wheelchair users as they move around, shared details on some of its future plans with Xconomy. Later this year, Rowheels plans to introduce a new wheel set that’s likely to cost significantly less than the two models of wheels the company currently sells, said co-founder and chairman Rimas Buinevicius. He added that Rowheels may also start selling entire wheelchairs, as the startup seeks to court a larger segment of the estimated 1.8 million Americans who use manual wheelchairs.
—Madison-based Nutrient Recovery and Upcycling signed a licensing agreement with CNP, a division of Kenosha-based Centrisys, according to a report by the UW-Madison’s news service. Nutrient Recovery and Upcycling was spun out of research performed at the university in 2011. The startup has developed technology to extract phosphorous from wastewater before it reaches treatment plants (where it can be harmful) and returns the chemical to farms (where it’s useful for growing crops). Centrisys, meanwhile is a manufacturer of centrifuges, which reportedly play a key role in the phosphorous extraction process.
—UW-Madison’s news service also profiled EnsoData, a startup that develops software to help clinicians score sleep data and diagnose patients with sleep apnea and other disorders. Madison-based EnsoData was formed in 2015 by two engineering students at the school, Chris Fernandez and Sam Rusk, and raised a $550,000 seed funding round about a year ago. Prior to launching, the startup’s co-founders reportedly interviewed about 100 members of the UW-Madison community in search of an area in healthcare that was still struggling with analyzing large, complex data sets. One of the people they spoke with mentioned sleep medicine, and Rusk and Fernandez decided to run with the suggestion, according to the report.
—Madison-based FluGen, which is developing vaccine candidates designed to protect against multiple types of influenza, raised $2 million from investors. Paul Radspinner, co-founder and CEO of FluGen, said the funding will support current and planned clinical trials of an experimental universal influenza vaccine the startup is developing. FluGen has now raised about $22 million in funding since launching in 2007, Radspinner said.
—Cellular Dynamics International will receive up to $6 million in financial incentives to move to a new facility in Verona that’s located about seven miles southwest of the company’s current headquarters in Madison, the Verona Press reported. CDI’s products include lines of cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells, which can be turned into any type of cell found in the human body. The company made public plans to relocate to a new, 100,000-square-foot headquarters in Verona late last year. CDI currently has about 160 employees, and reportedly plans to hire dozens more before construction on the new facility is completed next year.
—The Badger Fund of Funds, a program supported in part by the state of Wisconsin that’s aimed at providing capital to early-stage companies, named its third “recipient” fund, which will be based in the southern part of the state. The new fund is called “Rock River Capital Partners Fund I,” and will be managed by two UW-Madison graduates with experience in startups and investing. The fund-of-funds program is structured so that a central “Badger Fund” invests in several recipient funds located around the state, which in turn inject capital into emerging businesses.
—Marquette University opened a “hub for cyber security education and research,” which it is calling the Center for Cyber Security Awareness and Cyber Defense. According to a press release, its director will be Thomas Kaczamrek, who oversees one of the Milwaukee university’s graduate computer science programs.
—John Friend joined Cellectar Biosciences as chief medical officer. Madison-based Cellectar (NASDAQ: CLRB) is developing drugs with the potential to treat malignant tumors and certain forms of blood cancer. Friend, a physician, previously spent more than seven years working in various roles at the Swiss pharmaceutical group Helsinn Therapeutics.