Beloit, Foxconn, Shine, MVI, & More: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist
Catch up on news from Wisconsin’s innovation community with these recent headlines:
—The New York Times published a lengthy feature story about the efforts of Diane Hendricks, a billionaire corporate executive and philanthropist, to lead an economic revival in the city of Beloit. Hendricks is perhaps best known as the co-founder and owner of ABC Supply. The roofing materials company is based in Beloit, whose population of 37,000 makes it Wisconsin’s 19th largest city. Hendricks reportedly provided some of the financial support for a performing arts center there that took the place of a failing mall, and has orchestrated the redevelopment of parts of the city’s downtown.
Most notably for the state’s tech community, Hendricks also helped convert an old foundry complex into modern commercial and office space. The Ironworks complex is now home to Irontek, a coworking space, as well as several early-stage companies. They include FatWallet—a subsidiary of San Francisco-based Ebates—and Comply365. The Wisconsin-based startup accelerator Gener8tor recently began holding training programs for entrepreneurs in Beloit, and also has an office in the Ironworks complex.
—Foxconn, a Taiwan-based contract electronics assembler that announced plans late last month to invest $10 billion to build a manufacturing facility in Southeastern Wisconsin, is considering investing in a second site in the state, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The second facility would be in Dane County, where the state capital and Wisconsin’s flagship public university are located. According to a Wisconsin State Journal report, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has floated the idea of refurbishing a recently shuttered Oscar Mayer site and having Foxconn manufacture products there, rather than constructing a new plant from the ground up.
—Later this month, John Biondi will step down as the director of Discovery to Product (D2P), a program that helps students, faculty, and staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison turn ideas into companies. Starting Sept. 1, Andrew Richards, chief of staff for UW-Madison’s vice chancellor for research and graduate education, will serve as interim director of D2P. A spokeswoman for the university told Xconomy that UW-Madison plans to continue the D2P program into the future.
—Janesville-based Shine Medical Technologies broke ground on an 11,500-square-foot prototype production facility, where it will test its particle accelerator-based technology for producing a radioisotope used in diagnostic medical imaging procedures, the Janesville Gazette reported. Next year, Shine plans to begin construction on a full-scale nuclear plant for producing the isotope, molybdenum-99, and go into full production there by 2020.
—Madison-based FluGen, which is developing vaccine candidates designed to protect against multiple types of influenza, raised $5.5 million from investors. The startup plans to use some of the proceeds from the funding round to wrap up a Phase 1a clinical trial of its RedeeFlu vaccine. FluGen plans to initiate three more clinical trials in 2018, said Paul Radspinner, the company’s co-founder and CEO.
—Madison Vaccines announced it has expanded a clinical trial the company is conducting to evaluate one of its drug candidates for treating patients with advanced prostate cancer. The Madison-based company said in a press release that it has decided to expand a Phase 1b pilot study in which patients are treated with its candidate, MVI-816, along with pembrolizumab (Keytruda). The latter drug is owned by Kenilworth, NJ-based Merck (NYSE: MRK) and belongs to an emerging class of cancer immunotherapies called checkpoint inhibitors. Madison Vaccines said that based on positive initial findings from its Phase 1b study, the company will now dose 20 prostate cancer patients with MVI-816 and pembrolizumab for up to 48 weeks.
—Moxe Health, a Madison-based startup developing digital tools to help facilitate the flow of patient data between healthcare providers, insurers, and software applications, introduced a new product suite that’s ultimately aimed at helping providers identify gaps in care and improve patient outcomes. The suite, known as Convergence, allows networks of hospitals and clinics to exchange different types of patient health information with health plans. Moxe said that one module within Convergence helps users pull together clinical documentation, claims sent to insurers, medication data, and other information—all within a single software application.