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Cellular Dynamics, Rockwell, WARF & More: This Week’s WI Watchlist

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

—Madison-based Fujifilm Cellular Dynamics said it struck an agreement with the University of California, Irvine, under which the Wisconsin company will license technology from the school in order to develop stem cell-based therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative neurological conditions. The company, formerly known as Cellular Dynamics International, has been a Fujifilm subsidiary since 2015, when it was acquired by the Japanese firm for $307 million.

Fujifilm Cellular Dynamics focuses in part on developing therapies using human-induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which can be developed into a variety of cell types found in the human body. The company said that under the terms of its agreement with UC-Irvine, it will differentiate iPS cells into microglial cells, a type of neuron that plays an important role in preserving brain function. The eventual goal is to commercialize an iPS cell-derived product, Fujifilm Cellular Dynamics said. Specific financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

—Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation (NYSE: ROK) said it will invest $1 billion in PTC (NASDAQ: PTC), a Needham, MA-based company best known for developing computer-aided design software. The partnership is likely to be a boon for both companies, they said, in part because it will let them offer more a comprehensive suite of products and services to customers that manufacture industrial equipment and other goods. Under the terms of the deal, Rockwell said it will purchase nearly 10.6 million newly issued shares of stock in PTC, at a price of $94.50 apiece.

—The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, which manages patents and the licensing of intellectual property for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was issued 162 “utility” patents in 2017, eighth-best among the world’s universities. That’s according to a ranking by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association. Utility patents include “materials, processes, functions, and devices,” while “design” patents relate to appearance and other “nonfunctional elements,” according to the organizations.

—Wes Schroll, founder and CEO of Madison-based Fetch Rewards, appeared on the morning show “Fox & Friends” to explain his company’s technology. One of the startup’s newest programs allows a user of Fetch’s mobile app to scan receipts from any U.S. grocer, and awards points if the app finds he or she purchased certain products sold by one of the dozens of brands Fetch works with. The televised segment featured a challenge in which two of the show’s hosts were given lists of some items Fetch rewards users for buying, and had 30 seconds to rummage through shopping aisles set up onstage and put as many of them into their carts as possible.

—Researchers at Madison-based Exact Sciences (NASDAQ: EXAS) and Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, MN, said they’ve made progress toward developing a panel of blood-based biomarkers that could help healthcare providers diagnose the most common type of liver cancer while the disease is still in its early stages. Exact and Mayo Clinic have been working to develop DNA-based cancer screening tests since 2009. The results of a recent study of a blood test they’re developing suggest it has the potential to improve upon current screening methods for hepatocellular carcinoma, which the two organizations said accounts for nearly 90 percent of all liver cancers. It’s still early though, and the test has a long path to market.

—Exact also said it plans to raise up to $190 million by selling notes that can be … Next Page »

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Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Wisconsin. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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