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August 2011
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October 2011

Madison tech company raises $20 million in venture capital

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

In what may be one of the biggest non-biotech venture capital fundings ever in Wisconsin, Networked Insights said Thursday it has raised $20 million.

The Madison company raised the money in a round led by funds affiliated with Goldman Sachs Asset Management. The round is the company's third, and brings to $30 million the total amount Networked Insights has raised.

The company was founded in 2006 and mines networks and blogs for real-time data that helps marketers make tactical decisions.

Full story.

Speed-of-light experiments give baffling result at Cern

By Jason Palmer Science and technology reporter, BBC News

Puzzling results from Cern, home of the Large Hadron Collider, have confounded physicists because subatomic particles seem to have beaten the speed of light.

Neutrinos sent through the ground from Cern toward the Gran Sasso laboratory 732km away in Italy seemed to show up a tiny fraction of a second early.

The results - which threaten to upend a century of physics - were put online for scrutiny by other scientists.

In the meantime, the group says it is being very cautious about its claims.

Full story.

NorthStar finds way to produce medical isotope quickly, safely

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

As problems go, NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes LLC was founded on a big one.

Production issues at several nuclear power plants outside the U.S. during the last few years and worries about nuclear proliferation prompted the federal government in 2009 to look for ways to make a critical medical isotope more safely and closer to home.

Fortunately for NorthStar, its principals understood the situation and were already working on a solution.

Now the Madison company, which plans to eventually move its headquarters to Beloit, says it hopes to get approval from federal regulators and begin shipping that solution to nuclear pharmacies by the second quarter of 2012.

NorthStar is aiming to use that solution to produce as much as half of the required U.S. supply of the medical isotope, called technetium-99m, within the next two to three years, said George Messina, NorthStar's managing director. The company also could eventually hire as many as 150 people in Rock County, mostly for scientific positions, he said.

Full story.

New industry cluster will promote innovation in Milwaukee

The Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC) today announced the creation of a new initiative called MiKE (Innovation in Milwaukee), a design, technology and innovation cluster that will serve as a catalytic source for rapid innovation and talent to compete on the world stage.

The cluster will focus on three strategic goals: (1) Develop talent for Innovation; (2) Enhance economic development opportunities for existing companies and start-ups; and (3) Develop future technologies and applications.

The initiative will be guided by a council that is co-chaired by Telvin Jeffries, executive vice president of human resources at Menomonee Falls-based Kohl’s Corp., and Todd Teske, chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based Briggs & Stratton Corp.
The GMC’s partners in the MiKE initiative include Art Milwaukee, BizStarts Milwaukee, Creative Alliance Milwaukee, Spreenkler Talent Labs and the GMC Talent Dividend.

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Shaping Up: Controlling a Stem Cell's Form Can Determine Its Fate

"Form follows function!" was the credo of early 20th century architects making design choices based on the intended use of the structure. Cell biologists may be turning that on its head. New research* by a team working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) reinforces the idea that stem cells can be induced to develop into specific types of cells solely by controlling their shape. The results may be important to the design of materials to induce the regeneration of lost or damaged tissues in the body.

Tissue engineering seeks to repair or re-grow damaged body tissues, often using some form of stem cells. Stem cells are basic repair units in the body that have the ability to develop into any of several different forms. The NIST experiments looked at primary human bone marrow stromal cells, adult stem cells that can be isolated from bone marrow and can "differentiate" into bone, fat or cartilage cells, depending.

"Depending on what?" is one of the key questions in tissue engineering. How do you ensure that the stem cells turn into the type you need? Chemical cues have been known to work in cases where researchers have identified the proper additives—a hormone in the case of bone cells. Other research has suggested that cell differentiation on flat surfaces can be controlled by patterning the surface to restrict the locations where growing cells can attach themselves.

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Mining Patent Gold: What Every CEO Should Know

By Marshall Phelps and John Cronin

In the weeks since Google acquired Motorola Mobility and its 17,000 patents for $12.5 billion, the media has engaged in an orgy of hand-wringing over a supposedly broken patent system that diverts resources away from innovation and towards litigation instead.

Ignore the histrionics. What the Google-Motorola deal actually proves is that innovation—and its embodiment in intellectual property—is more valuable and necessary than ever for market success. What’s more, patents are no longer simply akin to mining claims that give one the exclusive right to pan for gold. In many cases, patents are the gold itself.

Full story.

Patent reform OK'd; critics say it impedes start-ups

By John Schmid of the Journal Sentinel

As the nation's economy struggles to reduce persistent unemployment and avert a double-dip recession, the Senate on Thursday passed a sweeping overhaul of the American patent system that supporters touted as essential to job-creation but that critics decried as a strike against innovation and a sellout to big business.

"My prediction is that fewer new companies will be started and many universities will find it too expensive to patent technologies arising from their research," said Carl Gulbrandsen, managing director of the patent licensing arm of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

The view in Washington was diametrically different: The Senate overwhelmingly approved the America Invents Act by a vote of 89-9, making it a rare piece of major economic legislation to achieve bipartisan support.

The bill, already passed by the House, was to be sent immediately to President Barack Obama, who has been a strong supporter.

Full story.

Six companies to be showcased at biotech conference

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

Six companies named by the state bioscience trade organization as emerging companies in that industry are exhibiting Thursday at the group's annual conference.

BioForward chose the companies to show their products at its Biotechnology Vision Summit 2011, which is being held at the Madison Marriott West hotel. About 500 people are expected to attend, said Bryan Renk, the group's executive director.

Full story.

Marquette's new hall is an innovative engineering lab

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

If 30 Marquette University engineering students bounce up and down on their classroom floor, they have no way of knowing how much stress they put on the floor beams.

Soon, that will change.

The first 115,000-square-foot phase of the school's Engineering Hall opened to students this week. By the end of the semester, students will be able to touch a plasma screen in the commons area to see the stress on the beams beneath their bouncing feet. That data will be transmitted from some of the 120 sensors welded onto beams and other locations around the building.

Students also will be able to examine the different configurations of I-beams on each floor, conduct experiments on a green roof with solar panels, and use the molding machines, lasers and other equipment in the shop.

"It's a platform for innovation rather than a building," said Robert Bishop, dean of the engineering school. "Really, the students are only limited by their imaginations."

Bishop and others at Marquette are hailing Engineering Hall as a place where students can collaborate and understand how the building was put together - and where researchers can do work that was previously difficult, if not impossible, in the traditional classrooms of the old engineering building.

Full story.