Epic, Foxconn, Thermo Fisher & More: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist
Catch up on news from Wisconsin’s innovation community with these recent headlines:
—The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Verona-based Epic Systems and two other corporations in a case that examined whether it’s legal for organizations to require their employees to sign arbitration agreements that keep them from pursuing group claims in court. Groups of current and former employees at Epic, which develops software that hospitals and clinics use to manage patient records, had previously filed multiple lawsuits claiming they were denied overtime pay. Epic settled one of the lawsuits in 2014 by agreeing to pay a set of employees who test the company’s software a combined $5.4 million.
Following this week’s ruling, Epic founder and CEO Judy Faulkner released a statement saying, “It is important that employers protect an employee’s right to file complaints, while also providing for a fair forum in which those grievances are addressed. When it comes to grievances regarding wages and hours, we believe individual arbitration agreements strike that reasonable balance and are pleased with the court’s decision in support of this.”
—Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics assembly giant that recently broke ground on a new mega-factory in southeastern Wisconsin, is contemplating producing small- to medium-sized displays for Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), automakers, and other clients at the facility, the Japanese publication Nikkei Asian Review reported. That’s somewhat at odds with previous statements from Foxconn that the company would manufacture large liquid crystal display panels—ones measuring at least 65 inches diagonally—at its plant in Wisconsin. Nikkei Asian Review initially reported that Foxconn planned to scale back the amount it was investing in the factory. However, the publication later retracted that part of its story, and Foxconn reiterated its pledge to spend $10 billion on the project.
—Madison-based Fishidy was acquired by Wilsonville, OR-based Flir Systems (NASDAQ: FLIR), said Doug Monieson, the chairman of Hyde Park Angels, one of the investor networks that invested in Fishidy. The startup has developed map-based technology that allows fisherman to document and share information on the waterways they fish. One of Fishidy’s investors told Xconomy the purchase price was more than $3 million.
—A new accessory developed at the Madison office of Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE: TMO) is designed to allow art conservationists to verify the authenticity of paintings, sculptures, and other large objects by performing spectral analysis, the company said. The part, which is called Thermo Scientific ConservatIR FTIR external reflection accessory, allows users to inspect large works of art that don’t fit in the sample compartment of spectrometers sold by Thermo Fisher. The company’s website does not say how much the accessory costs.
—Bloxvox, a Milwaukee-based startup that has developed a device that fits over the mouth and allows the user to muffle his or her voice while talking on the phone, launched a Kickstarter campaign allowing people to pre-order the device. The campaign goal is $25,000, and as of Friday evening more than $3,600 had been pledged. Bloxvox is competing with Ukraine-based Hushme, which has built a similar product and launched its own crowdfunding effort a year ago.
—Ideawake, which develops software tools allowing employees at medium- to large-sized organizations to suggest and receive feedback on ideas for new products and initiatives, raised $100,000 in equity funding from three investors, according to an SEC filing. The size of the funding round could top out at $700,000, the company said in the filing. Ideawake graduated from the Wisconsin startup accelerator Gener8tor in November.