Water Council, UW-Madison, Epic, & More: This Week’s WI Watchlist
Stay current on news from Wisconsin’s innovation community with these recent headlines:
—The Water Council, based in Milwaukee, unveiled the five startups in the latest class of its water tech accelerator, dubbed “Business. Research. Entrepreneurship. In Wisconsin.”—the BREW for short. Three of the companies are based in Wisconsin, one is from Canada, and one is from Australia. Since 2013, startups that have participated in the BREW have raised $2.6 million in follow-on capital, The Water Council said in a press release.
—In related news, the Milwaukee-based water heater maker A.O. Smith (NYSE: AOS), which recently signed on to help support the BREW, announced Nanolytix as the winner of A.O. Smith’s Brew Corporate challenge, BizTimes Media reported. Ontario, Canada-based Nanolytix is developing technology to detect contaminants in real time using a combination of sensors and software. A.O. Smith will invest $50,000 in Nanolytix, and the startup will receive office space at the Global Water Center in Milwaukee, which houses The Water Council and the BREW.
—StrataGraft, a regenerative medicine treatment acquired by Mallinckrodt (NYSE: MNK) as part of its purchase of Madison-based Stratatech last year, could make it to the market more quickly following the FDA’s decision to designate StrataGraft as a Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapy. StrataGraft is one of the first products to receive the designation, which allows companies to speak with the FDA earlier and more frequently while a drug is being developed and tested.
—StrataGraft was one of the products featured in a series of Madison Magazine articles about innovations developed by students and researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The series features comments from UW-Madison chancellor Rebecca Blank and Erik Iverson, who last year was named the head of the organization that manages patents and licensing for the university. It also looks at the Badgerloop, a futuristic pod built by a team of students that’s designed to zoom through an above-ground vacuum tube at speeds of more than 200 miles per hour.
—While manufacturing has long played a critical role in Wisconsin’s economy and will likely continue to do so for decades to come, the sector is undergoing changes that affect the number and type of workers needed to staff factory floors. One closely watched Wisconsin company, Janesville-based Shine Medical Technologies, has partnered with two technical colleges in the state to educate and train students considering careers in nuclear technology and health physics. President Donald Trump and members of his administration have suggested that corporations and technical colleges could work together to help close the skills gap that worries some manufacturers.
—The Mayo Clinic, which is based in Rochester, MN, but has several Wisconsin locations, recently began using patient health records software developed by Verona-based Epic Systems, the Rochester Post-Bulletin reported. Mayo’s installation of Epic’s software is a time-consuming and capital-intensive undertaking. The two organizations agreed to terms in early 2015, and according to the Post-Bulletin report, the project is estimated to cost Mayo $1.5 billion. Several months after the installation kicked off, Epic paid $46 million for a Mayo-owned data center about five miles northwest of the healthcare provider’s headquarters.
—A U.S. District Court judge issued a preliminary injunction barring Milwaukee County from enforcing an ordinance that regulated where augmented reality (AR) games can be played. The ordinance requires companies that develop AR applications, which place a virtual layer atop the familiar, physical world, to obtain permits if their apps lead users to county parks to collect in-game prizes there. Pokémon Go is likely the best-known AR game, though the lawsuit challenging the ordinance was brought by Irvine, CA-based Candy Lab AR, the studio behind Texas Rope ’Em and other titles.
—Milwaukee-based Microbe Detectives announced it’s conducting a study aimed at optimizing biological nutrient removal programs at municipal wastewater treatment facilities. Working with Sheboygan-based Donohue & Associates and Englewood, CO-based CH2M, Microbe Detectives said it will help municipal facilities measure and monitor microbes that remove phosphorous and nitrogen, at no cost to the facilities. Microbe Detectives uses DNA sequencing to analyze samples of wastewater, well water, and drinking water to identify different types of bacteria.
—Madison-based Kiio said it received $1.3 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Defense and will work with UW-Madison and the University of Miami to study and attempt to improve tendon disease treatment. The project includes a multiyear 318-patient clinical study, which recently enrolled its first patient. Kiio develops software and hardware to help patients understand and adhere to exercise programs to rehabilitate (or prevent) injuries.