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High-tech exports, including biotech products, continue to rise as share of total Wisconsin exports

WTN News

WASHINGTON – High-tech exports in Wisconsin, including medical and scientific instruments and biotechnology products, are rising at a rate faster than five Midwestern state neighbors and the United States as a whole.

The figures were reported in a study commissioned for the Wisconsin Technology Council by NorthStar Economics Inc., a Madison-based firm that serves as the official economic adviser to the Tech Council. The figures were released during the 2011 BIO International Convention in Washington, D.C.

Wisconsin ranked 13th nationally in high-tech exports and 15th nationally in tech export concentration, the study concluded. Wisconsin experienced the largest increase among Midwest states in tech exports as a percentage of total exports from 2003 to 2009, with tech exports growing by 41.7 percent. That compared to Illinois (up 35.8 percent), Michigan (16.9 percent), Indiana (15 percent) and Iowa (2.4 percent) during the same period. Tech exports in the United States grew by 13 percent during the same period.

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Big Blue: 100 years making things compute

By Michael Hill and Jordan Robertson, Associated Press

Endicott, N.Y. - Google, Apple and Facebook get all the attention. But the forgettable everyday tasks of technology - saving a file on your laptop, swiping your ATM card to get 40 bucks, scanning a gallon of milk at the checkout line - that's all IBM.

International Business Machines turns 100 on Thursday without much fanfare. But its much younger competitors owe a lot to Big Blue.

After all, where would Groupon be without the supermarket bar code? Or Google without the mainframe computer?

"They were kind of like a cornerstone of that whole enterprise that has become the heart of the computer industry in the U.S.," says Bob Djurdjevic, a former IBM employee and president of Annex Research.

IBM dates to June 16, 1911, when three companies that made scales, punch-clocks for work and other machines merged to form the Computing Tabulating Recording Co. The modern-day name followed in 1924.

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Civic group envisions 'design tech' cluster in Milwaukee

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

Throwing out references to "hack-a-thons" and software apps, the Greater Milwaukee Committee on Monday unveiled plans to put its weight behind creation of a second industry cluster in design technology.

The business and civic organization that counts many of the area's big-company executives among its members was a catalyst behind creation of the Milwaukee 7 Water Council.

Now it is starting to connect its corporate members to the region's geeks and entrepreneurs, and is working toward setting up a Design Tech Council, said GMC president Julia Taylor.

"We see ourselves shifting from the machine shop of the world to the design tech center of the world," Taylor said at a GMC lunch meeting.

Design technology can cover anything from software apps to engineering, but its heart is information technology, the programming and software development done by technicians who often refer to themselves as hackers. These are not nefarious types who circumvent security systems, but computer experts who have an anti-authoritarian approach to software development associated with the free software movement.

Many of the area's biggest companies were hatched in a patch of the city near First St. and Florida St., and a similar breeding ground is developing in the Grand Avenue Mall, Taylor said.

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Shine Medical raises $11 million in venture funding

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

Middleton-based Shine Medical Technologies said Tuesday morning it has raised $11 million of venture capital funding.

Knox LLC -- the investment vehicle for Frederick J. Mancheski, former chairman and chief executive of automotive parts supplier Echlin - led the round and contributed $10 million of the funding.

Fourteen other individual investors participated, Greg Piefer, Shine's chief executive, said in a news release.

Shine, formerly known as Phoenix Nuclear, is using its unique nuclear fusion technology to make molybdenum-99. The substance produces an isotope that's critical for certain medical imaging tests that diagnose, monitor and treat some cancers, as well as heart and brain diseases.

Two nuclear reactors in Canada and the Netherlands that are operating well past their design life provide the majority of the isotope used by Shine. Frequent shut-downs have created a worldwide shortage of the material.

Shine's nuclear fusion technology offers a possible alternative.

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Virent focusing on bottle technology

By Thomas Content of the Journal Sentinel

Madison biofuels firm Virent Energy Systems Inc. said Monday it has developed a process to help make plastic bottles from plant sugars instead of petroleum.

The company said its chemical engineers have been able to produce a molecule that mimics a petroleum molecule that's key to making PET recyclable bottles.

The molecule paraxylene, also known as PX, is made from 100% plant sugars. When combined with existing technology, this can allow manufacturers to offer 100% natural plant-based plastic bottles and packaging.

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Melanoma drug breakthroughs stir "celebration" among skin cancer patients

by David W Freeman

(CBS/AP) Two new drugs have shown dramatic results against melanoma, researchers announced yesterday, giving people with the deadly skin cancer reason to cheer.

"This is really an unprecedented time of celebration for our patients," said Dr. Lynn Schuchter, of the University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center. The new drugs are not cures, she said, but "the future is going to be to build upon the success" by testing combinations of these newer drugs.

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