Harley, Gener8tor, Allergy Amulet & More: This Week’s WI Watchlist

Keep up with news from Wisconsin’s innovation community with these recent headlines:

—Harley-Davidson, the iconic Milwaukee-based motorcycle manufacturer, said Wednesday that it plans to open a new research and development center in Silicon Valley. Harley (NYSE: HOG) said the facility will house about two dozen of its workers—most of whom the company intends to hire from within the Bay Area—and is expected to open by the end of the year.

The new California R&D center will support Harley’s first complete line of electric motorcycles. It will initially focus on areas such as battery technology, power electronics, and “e-machine design, development, and advanced manufacturing,” Harley said.

Harley said last month that it plans to introduce its first electric motorcycle, which it calls LiveWire, in August 2019. The electric bikes Harley plans to begin selling in coming years are part of the 115-year-old company’s effort to evolve its product line and court more young riders.

—Gener8tor and Madison-based American Family Insurance said they have launched an accelerator program that’s open to both nonprofits and for-profit startups, and which will focus on “social impact” in areas like K-12 education.

The accelerator is the newest version of gBETA, a series of free, seven-week programs that Wisconsin-based Gener8tor runs. American Family has provided support for Gener8tor programs in the past, and the insurer has backed several graduates of Gener8tor’s core, 12-week accelerator through its investing arm American Family Ventures.

Five organizations will be picked for the inaugural gBETA Social Impact program, which kicks off Oct. 4, Gener8tor said.

—Madison-based Allergy Amulet, which is developing a compact device designed to quickly test food for common food allergens, said it signed a celebrity spokesman: the Boston-based chef Ming Tsai. Tsai, who stars in the PBS show “Simply Ming,” has a son with food allergies, Allergy Amulet said. He worked with lawmakers in Massachusetts to pass food allergy safety legislation in 2009; it was reportedly the first law of its kind passed in the state. Tsai also runs Blue Dragon, a restaurant in Boston that does not cook with peanuts or tree nuts.

—We posted two dispatches from Epic Systems’ annual customer conference, which attracted an estimated 8,000 leaders of hospitals and clinics that use Epic’s patient records software to its corporate campus in Verona.

Epic executives, including founder and CEO Judy Faulkner, acknowledged that the healthcare IT industry—which she called “the hottest area around”—is attracting more startups, as well as tech giants that haven’t focused much on healthcare in the past. Still, Faulkner said Epic plans to stick with to its decades-old strategy of developing its digital tools internally, rather than buying software products through mergers and acquisitions.

The company also faces a delicate balancing act between configuring its products to allow users to exchange data with outside software applications and doing all it can to protect patient health information.

—Staying in health IT, Redox, a startup that sells digital tools to help software developers move data into and out of patients’ electronic health records, raised $3 million in new funding. Redox, which was founded by three former Epic employees in 2014, has now raised more than $15.8 million in equity and debt financing, according to documents filed with the SEC.

—Avid Ratings, a Madison-based company developing software designed to help residential construction firms market to potential customers and manage relations with existing ones, raised $6 million from investors. Madison-based 4490 Ventures and Detroit-based Beringea led the round, Avid said.

—Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics assembler that recently broke ground on a huge … Next Page »

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