NorthStar, Fiserv, CUNA & More: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist

Stay current on news from Wisconsin’s innovation community with these recent headlines:

—NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, which is seeking to become the first U.S. company in decades to domestically produce a widely used medical radioisotope, broke ground on a new 20,000-square-foot production facility at its Beloit headquarters, the Janesville Gazette reported. NorthStar plans to produce and sell an isotope (molybdenum-99), which a device developed by the company decays into technetium-99m, the most widely used radioisotope in medical diagnostic imaging. The FDA approved NorthStar’s decaying device earlier this year.

Industry observers are paying close attention to NorthStar and its competitors’ progress, in part because molybdenum-99 is relatively scarce. Today, shipments of the isotope travel to U.S. hospitals from South Africa, the Netherlands, and other countries along a fragile global supply chain.

NorthStar reportedly will not begin making molybdenum-99 at the new facility until 2021 at the earliest. In the meantime, the company plans to sell isotopes produced at a nuclear reactor in Columbia, MO. Stephen Merrick, NorthStar’s chief operating officer, told the Gazette that the company plans to begin shipping molybdenum-99 produced at the Missouri reactor by June.

—Leaders at Madison-based Propeller Health teamed up with academic researchers to author a Health Affairs paper about a first-of-its-kind study of asthma and environmental conditions in Louisville, KY. The paper focuses on a multiyear study in which investigators provided asthmatic Louisville residents with Propeller’s sensors and software to track where and when they use their inhalers. Meredith Barrett, the startup’s vice president of research, said the study results represent a “strong example of the potential” for patient-generated data to influence public policy.

—Brookfield-based Fiserv (NADAQ: FISV), which develops digital tools for financial institutions, said it’s developing voice-controlled online banking software for Amazon (NADAQ: AMZN) virtual assistants like the Echo and Echo Dot (the ones users address as “Alexa” by default).

—Staying in fintech, CUNA Mutual AdvantEdge Analytics acquired Finivation, a New York-based company that develops software and helps its banks and credit union customers integrate their IT systems. AdvantEdge Analytics’ corporate parent is Madison-based CUNA Mutual, which provides insurance and financial services to its member organizations, many of which are credit unions. CUNA Mutual did not disclose any financial terms in a press release announcing its purchase of Finivation.

—Scale Up Milwaukee, an entrepreneurship program that helps businesses in southeastern Wisconsin that are seeking to grow quickly, announced a partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to have program participants work with some of the school’s faculty members. The five-month Scale Up Milwaukee Growth Accelerator (previously known as the Scalerator) connects entrepreneurs with investment groups, banks, and professional services firms, and is overseen by the Greater Milwaukee Committee and supported by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Launched in 2013, the accelerator program says it’s graduated 57 companies, which together raised nearly $25 million in outside funding last year.

—Madison-based Healthfinch, which develops software applications to automate routine tasks performed by doctors and others who care for patients in clinics, raised $6 million in a funding round led by Chicago-based Adams Street Partners. Healthfinch, which currently has about 50 employees, plans to use some of the proceeds from the funding round to expand its software development and engineering teams, co-founder and CEO Jonathan Baran said.

—GrocerKey, a Madison-based startup that has developed white-label software to help grocery stores create an online presence, raised $2.5 million from investors. Participants in the funding round included the Wisconsin-based supermarket chain Woodman’s Market and Dunnhuby Ventures, which is part of the U.K. retail data giant Tesco.

—Wauwatosa-based Cytegen raised $1 million in debt funding from four investors, according to a document filed with federal securities regulators. The pre-revenue company is drawing on the expertise of scientists from a handful of universities to research methods for lowering the toll of Alzheimer’s disease and other illnesses associated with aging.

—Artrility Medical, which is developing a medical device to diagnose and treat heart arrhythmias, raised $310,000 in debt funding from seven investors, according to an SEC filing. The Madison-based startup was launched in 2017, according to Artrility’s website. Its founding team includes Nicholas Von Bergen, a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, and Pete Lukszys, a lecturer at UW-Madison’s business school.

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