Foxconn, Arrowhead, NorthStar & More: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist
Catch up on news from Wisconsin’s innovation community with these recent headlines:
—Foxconn paid nearly $15 million for an office building in downtown Milwaukee that will serve as the company’s North American headquarters, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The location chosen by the Taiwanese electronics manufacturing giant does not come as a major surprise; in the past year, Foxconn has announced plans to invest $10 billion to construct a new factory in Mount Pleasant, which is located about 25 miles south of Milwaukee. The plant would produce electronic displays and employ up to 13,000 workers, Foxconn has said. More than 500 of the company’s employees will reportedly work from Foxconn’s newly christened North American HQ.
—Separately, Foxconn and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee announced a new, five-month study abroad and internship program wherein UW-Milwaukee engineering students will study at a university in Taiwan and work at a Foxconn facility there. UW-Milwaukee said it will select five students from its engineering school to participate in the inaugural program, which runs from February 2019 to June 2019. Each student will begin working on a research project while taking classes at Chung Yuan Christian University, and then continue their research at one of Foxconn’s Taiwanese facilities.
—Appleton-based Quest Analytics, which develops software that health plans and other customers use to ensure they comply with federal and state regulations, said it acquired BetterDoctor for an undisclosed sum. San Francisco-based BetterDoctor also develops compliance-focused software for healthcare organizations. Each company reportedly had about 50 employees prior to the deal.
—Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, which is headquartered in Pasadena, CA, but houses its research and development operations in Madison, said it had enrolled 44 patients in a Phase 1 clinical trial of a drug designed to treat rare liver diseases associated with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. The company said in a news release that Arrowhead scrapped plans to give two groups of patients a 400 mg dose of the drug candidate, ARO-AAT, “because maximal activity appeared to occur at lower doses than expected.”
Wall Street appeared to be pleased with the news; investors sent shares in Arrowhead (NASDAQ: ARWR) up to $13.73 apiece at Monday’s close, an increase of more than 24 percent over Friday’s closing price.
—NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes said its RadioGenix System, approved by the FDA earlier this year, could potentially be used to produce multiple radioisotopes that are scarce but nevertheless widely used in the healthcare industry.
In February, NorthStar said it planned to sell its RadioGenix device to nuclear pharmacies across the country, along with molybdenum-99 produced at a nuclear reactor in Missouri; NorthStar’s device decays molybdenum-99 into technetium-99m, the most widely used radioisotope in medical diagnostic imaging.
On Monday, NorthStar said its RadioGenix technology might make it possible to use one medical radioisotope (actinium-225) to produce another (bismuth-213). According to a report by Popular Mechanics last year, actinium-225 offers promise as a cancer drug; one reason is that as it decays into bismuth-213, actinium-225 releases “alpha” particles, which, due to their composition, “could kill cancer cells without causing many side effects.” NorthStar said it would need a separate FDA approval before it could start using RadioGenix technology to decay actinium-225 into bismuth-213.
—Intraband, a Madison-based startup, is developing devices that could allow an aircraft to use lasers to “blind” missiles by preventing them from using heat-seeking sensors or thermal imagers to lock on to the aircraft, company leaders said. Launched in 2007, Intraband is seeking to commercialize research on laser technologies by UW-Madison faculty and students. Rob Marsland, the company’s president, said the technology Intraband is developing could also have applications for sensor manufacturers, as well as businesses that develop medical diagnostic devices.
—Two new, Madison-based venture capital firms said in SEC filings they had either raised or plan to raise $15 million from investors, which they’ll in turn use to fund startups in the Midwest. One fund, 30Ventures, is led by veteran investor George Arida, and will back companies developing healthcare and water and chemistry-related technologies.
The other, Rock River Capital Partners, is part of the Badger Fund of Funds program. Rock River says it will lean toward investing in Wisconsin-based startups that sell software-related goods and services, and which have some sort of data analytics component.
—In other fundraising news, Superior-based Fasetto eclipsed its goal of $25,000 in pre-orders for a new gadget the company has developed for storing and broadcasting digital presentations. Fasetto hit its goal less than 24 hours after launching a crowdfunding campaign on the website Indiegogo, which has now raised nearly $34,000. The company says it will begin shipping the new device, which it calls Forum, later this year.