Case, M-WERC, Gener8tor, Synesis, & More: This Week’s WI Watchlist
A tech celebrity’s upcoming visit, a new partnership for an energy consortium, and a liquid nutrition spinout company are among these recent headlines from Wisconsin’s innovation community:
—Steve Case, co-founder of the Internet pioneer America Online, will appear at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field for two days in mid-October as part of his “Rise of the Rest” bus tour, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported. Case is currently chairman and CEO of Revolution, a venture capital firm based in Washington, D.C. Since 2014, the bus tour has reportedly traveled to more than two dozen cities, putting more than 6,000 miles on the odometer. Case and others at Revolution have made a priority of investing in startups based outside of California, Massachusetts, and New York, where three-fourths of VC investments land today.
Case’s visit will be held in concert with Launch Wisconsin, an annual conference bringing together entrepreneurs, corporations, and investors. This year’s conference includes a pitch competition in which a panel of judges will award $100,000 to a Wisconsin-based startup. Madison-based Solomo, which develops software and sensor devices to connect business with consumers, won a similar contest when Case visited the state in 2014.
—The Mid-West Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC), based in Milwaukee, has forged an entrepreneurship-focused partnership with a university in South Korea, BizTimes Media reported. Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology will reportedly send 10 startup companies to Milwaukee in October to participate in the WERCBench Labs accelerator, a program the consortium puts on for engineering-focused startups.
Madison-based Greenpoint Asset Management also had a role in getting the partnership to come together. Teresa Esser, a manager at Greenpoint, told BizTimes that one goal of the agreement is to help South Korean entrepreneurs understand the needs of potential customers in North America.
—We profiled Breathe For Change, a Madison-based organizer of wellness and yoga teacher training programs designed specifically for schoolteachers. Part of the idea behind the startup is to encourage teachers to nurture their well-being, which is important in an at-times stressful profession, said founder and CEO Ilana Nankin. Breathe For Change is currently holding a training program in Madison, and estimates it will help about 700 teachers become certified yoga instructors this year.
—Gener8tor, a Wisconsin-based group that runs training programs for early-stage companies and invests in them, raised $460,000 to fund programs in Minnesota, according to an SEC filing. Gener8tor opened an office in Minneapolis in late 2016, and its first core accelerator program there will kick off later this year. Gener8tor could raise up to $1.5 million as part of the latest fundraising, according to the filing.
—Madison-based AkitaBox announced it will be teaming up with Raleigh, NC-based PrecisionHawk, which develops data collection software for unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. Todd Hoffmaster, co-founder and CEO of AkitaBox, said that organizations currently using the startup’s facility management software now have access to PrecisionHawk’s drone tools. Using the tools would require AkitaBox’s customers, which include hospitals, schools, and real estate companies, to pay an extra fee, Hoffmaster said.
—Wisconsin Rapids-based Synesis, which is developing a liquid nutrition formula designed to reduce the side effects of tube feeding, plans to conduct a human trial of its formula in the near future, the University of Wisconsin-Madison said. (Synesis was spun out of research conducted at the university.) Difficulty swallowing due to cancer, neurological disease, or other conditions is one of the major reasons patients need to use feeding tubes. Their side effects can include infection, as well as bloating and cramping. Synesis has performed experiments with mice and found that its plant-based formula improved key immune response markers, UW-Madison said.
—Scanalytics, a Milwaukee-based startup that creates hardware and software to help customers track the movement of people through physical spaces, has begun collaborating with Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO), a networking hardware giant based in Silicon Valley. Cisco sponsored a recent competition for startups developing smart hardware technologies, and Scanalytics took first place in its category. Joe Scanlin, the startup’s co-founder and CEO, says Cisco did not award an upfront cash prize to Scanalytics, but he expects to receive sales and engineering support from Cisco as the two companies work to integrate their technologies.