Previous month:
January 2013
Next month:
March 2013

Women Who Run Tech Startups Are Catching Up

By Karen E. Klein on February 20, 2013


Women-led private technology companies are more capital-efficient, achieve 35 percent higher return on investment, and, when venture-backed, bring in 12 percent higher revenue than male-owned tech companies. That’s according to new research presented at a recent conference in San Francisco organized by Women 2.0, a media company devoted to women founders in the tech industry. It indicates female entrepreneurs, who have traditionally lagged behind their male counterparts, are catching up, at least by some measures.

Led by Vivek Wadhwa, who holds titles at Stanford and Duke universities, and Lesa Mitchell, a vice president at the Kauffman Foundation, the report “Women in Technology: Evolving, Ready to Save the World” draws on responses to an online survey from 500 women in the tech sector (inside and outside the U.S.) and is scheduled to be published this spring.

It shows that the average age of women entrepreneurs founding tech companies has dropped, from 41 to 32, since an earlier, smaller study was done in 2009, and the percentage who have had graduate-level education has risen, from 40 percent to 56 percent. The findings about women’s contributions to success bolster previous research from several sources, including a Credit Suisse Research Institute (CS) report and Dow Jones VentureSource (NWS) analysis.

Full story.

Seed-patent case in Supreme Court: Loss of patent control could rekindle ‘terminator’ technology.

Heidi Ledford

A technology called a ‘terminator’ was never going to curry much favour with the public. But even Monsanto, the agricultural biotechnology giant in St Louis, Missouri, was surprised by the furore that followed when it patented a method for engineering transgenic crops to produce sterile seed, forcing farmers to buy new seed for each planting. In 1999, Monsanto’s chief executive pledged not to commercialize terminator seeds.

The concept, if not the technology, is now gaining traction again. This week, the US Supreme Court hears arguments that pit Monsanto against 75-year-old Indiana soya-bean farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman, who used the progeny of Monsanto seeds to sow his land for eight seasons. The company says that by not buying seeds for each generation, Bowman violated its patents. If Bowman wins — and observers say that is not out of the question — the decision could make it harder for biotech firms to enforce patents on engineered organisms, from seeds to microbes, prompting them to revisit terminator-like technology.

Full story.

Amid massive security, bird flu virus research awaits approval

University of Wisconsin-Madison center aims to prepare people for possible mutations

By Karen Herzog of the Journal Sentinel


Madison - A bird flu virus at the center of an international debate sits in a padlocked freezer, deep inside a University of Wisconsin-Madison lab, waiting for new government guidelines that will allow researchers to continue unlocking its secrets.

The virus is protected by alarms.

It isn't deadly.

But government anti-terrorism rules dictate tight security around any biological agent that poses a potentially severe health threat.

Similar H5N1 avian influenza viruses circulating in nature don't follow anyone's rules.

They may be mutating into deadly threats capable of causing great loss of life, UW-Madison scientist Yoshihiro Kawaoka says, as he leads a hand-picked group of scientists, FBI agents and journalists on a rare tour of the $12.5 million Influenza Research Institute built exclusively for his research.

Full story.

FluGen studies show progress toward universal flu vaccine

By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

FluGen Inc., a Madison vaccine and vaccine delivery product company, said it has done studies in animals suggesting a vaccine it has in development could be taken every three to five years and protect against a wide range of flu viruses - even those it was not designed to prevent.

Full story.