WI Watchlist: AmFam, Venture Investors, Understory, Gener8tor & More

It’s time to catch up on some recent headlines from Wisconsin’s innovation clusters:

—Venture Investors and American Family Ventures are making progress on raising new venture funds. Madison-based Venture Investors has closed on $73.1 million for its latest fund, and it could grow the fund to $100 million, according to an SEC filing.

Meanwhile, American Family Ventures, the venture capital arm of American Family Insurance, has raised $162.5 million for its third fund, which could reach $200 million, according to an SEC filing.

—Primorigen Biosciences, a Madison-based life sciences research and recombinant protein manufacturing company, was acquired for an undisclosed price by San Diego-based Nucleus Biologics, a seller of products and services for cell and gene therapy customers.

—Understory tacked $2 million onto a venture funding round it raised earlier this year, according to SEC filings from the Madison-based weather technology startup. The new cash brings the investment deal’s total to about $7.25 million. Read more about Understory in this recent Q&A with CEO and co-founder Alex Kubicek.

—Wisconsin-based Gener8tor’s latest startup accelerator program will be focused on reducing incarceration and recidivism. Gener8tor and its partner, American Family Insurance’s Institute for Corporate and Social Impact, said they will select up to five teams for the one-month program located in Milwaukee. Teams will try to develop an idea into a business. They will receive free co-working space at No Studios, plus “ongoing support” from Gener8tor and American Family to help test their prototypes and build their businesses after the program ends.

The program is part of Gener8tor’s series of gBETA accelerators, which are shorter than Gener8tor’s flagship accelerator sessions and don’t involve equity investments. Click here to see stats on the performance of companies that participated in gBETA.

—Northwestern Mutual has hired Neal Sample, the former chief operating officer of Express Scripts, to serve as its chief information officer. Sample will lead the Milwaukee-based insurance and wealth management services giant’s technology organization and be in charge of advancing its digital tools for financial planning.

The move follows Northwestern Mutual’s hire in January of Souheil Badran as its chief innovation officer. Badran previously was president of the Americas region for Alipay, the online payments platform operated by Ant Financial, a spin-off of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

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