Amazon, EWPanel, Shine, RPRD & More: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist
Catch up on the latest news from Wisconsin’s innovation community with these recent headlines:
—Municipal leaders in Milwaukee will attempt to persuade executives at the online retailing giant Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) that the city would make an ideal home for its second headquarters, or HQ2, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Earlier this month, the Seattle-based e-commerce company issued a request for proposals to cities across North America; they’ll bid to attract the up-to-50,000 high-paying tech jobs that Amazon says a second headquarters would create.
In its request for proposals, Amazon said that ideal sites would be easily accessible by plane, rail, and automobile. As Wisconsin’s most populous city, Milwaukee’s transportation network would likely make it the Badger State’s best candidate to land Amazon’s HQ2. However, there are far fewer flights coming in and out of Milwaukee each day compared to Chicago, Denver, Detroit, and other cities that have been mentioned as potentially good fits for HQ2. And it’s not clear whether Wisconsin would be able to match or exceed the tax credits and other incentives other states are likely to offer Amazon after the state agreed to grant Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn $3 billion in incentives over 15 years for an electronics display plant in the state.
—EWPanel, a Madison-based startup, is seeking to commercialize products that capture energy generated through touch and convert it into electricity, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. That electricity could in turn be used to power sensors, LED lights, or other electronics. EWPanel was spun out of research performed in the laboratory of Xudong Wang, a materials science and engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The company is reportedly testing its technology at one of the school’s student unions, where special floor panels are set up to create energy from the steps of people who walk on them.
—With its $2.8 billion sale, announced in July, the free online health reference website WebMD has clearly built a valuable brand. However, startups and bigger software companies are introducing new technologies that could challenge WebMD, MayoClinic.org, and other services that are popular today in helping patients find information about their health.
—Northwestern Mutual, a life insurance and financial services provider headquartered in Milwaukee, will invest up to $85,000 in a single company following a “reverse” pitch contest that begins in November, according to Startup Milwaukee, which is organizing the competition. On Nov. 6, representatives of Northwestern Mutual will provide information to interested startups on five areas the insurer is seeking to improve in, such as acquiring sales leads and ensuring work-related communications are compliant with laws and industry regulations. Then, on Jan. 8, a group of entrepreneurs will try to persuade Northwestern Mutual leaders that their startups’ technologies can help the insurer in one of its five problem areas. The Northwestern Mutual-chosen winner will receive an investment of at least $10,000, as well as office space and other perks.
—Verona-based Epic Systems said it has developed functionality within the company’s MyChart patient portal app allowing a user to share his or her health records with doctors who document information on paper or using software that isn’t able to receive data from the patient’s regular care provider. The new functionality, known as Share Everywhere, will become available in November, Epic said.
—Staying in health IT, Redox, a Madison-based startup that develops software enabling healthcare applications to exchange data with electronic patient records systems used at organizations that provide care, made its first enterprise-wide sale to a health system: Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston. Redox’s contract with the Brigham marks a slight shift in the startup’s business model, which up to this point has mostly involved charging other healthcare software companies to use Redox’s data-integration tools.
—Janesville-based Shine Medical Technologies raised nearly $6.9 million in debt financing from 26 investors, according to a document filed with federal securities regulators. Shine is seeking to resume domestic manufacturing of an isotope that is in turn used to produce technetium-99m, the most widely used radioisotope in medical diagnostic imaging. The company recently broke ground on an 11,500-square-foot prototype production facility, where it will test its particle accelerator-based technology for producing isotopes.
—The Milwaukee-based pharmacogenetics startup Right Patient Right Drug (RPRD) Diagnostics announced a collaboration with Orient Bio, a biotech company based in South Korea. RPRD is developing technology to examine how patients’ genetic profiles affect their likelihood of reacting to particular drugs. The startup said in a press release that Orient Bio is particularly interested in a panel developed by RPRD that’s highly relevant for patients of East Asian ethnicity who may receive thiopurine drug treatment, prescribed for patients with leukemia and other diseases.