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Wisconsin Roundup: Exact Sciences, Walker Budget, WARF, & More

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

Here’s a recap of the latest headlines in Wisconsin technology and innovation:

—Madison-based Exact Sciences (NASDAQ: EXAS) has gone on a hiring spree in the wake of securing approval in the U.S. and Europe for Cologuard, its stool-based DNA test for detecting colorectal cancer. The company has grown from 110 employees a year ago to 430 today, with plans to expand to more than 800 employees by the end of the year, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

—Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget would make some changes to state tax credits for Wisconsin startup investments, including upping the cap on the amount invested that is eligible for tax credits from $8 million to $12 million per company, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

—The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), the nonprofit that manages University of Wisconsin-Madison’s intellectual property, ranked sixth among universities worldwide in 2013 with 160 patents, according to a new survey by the National Academy of Inventors and the Intellectual Property Owners Association. It trailed only the University of California System, MIT, China’s Tsinghua University, Stanford University, and the University of Texas.

Still, a different survey ranked WARF 38th nationally in 2013 in license agreements and spinouts, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. UW-Madison and other stakeholders have renewed efforts in the past few years to boost commercialization of technologies developed on campus, including through programs like Discovery to Product, Ideadvance, and the WARF Accelerator.

—Speaking of Ideadvance, the seed fund announced nine additional grants totaling up to $325,000 for startup teams formed on University of Wisconsin campuses outside of Madison. The $2 million seed fund was launched a year ago by the University of Wisconsin-Extension Center for Technology Commercialization and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. So far, 28 teams have been awarded up to $900,000 in grants, plus mentorship and lean startup training through the program.

—BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation said it received certification from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. that makes it eligible for tax credits of up to 25 percent for each investment it makes in approved Wisconsin companies. BrightStar is a nonprofit that invests charitable donations in Badger State startups.

—BrightStar also announced a $150,000 investment in Whitewater-based Pinpoint Software, a graduate of Gener8tor’s startup accelerator, and $30,000 follow-on investments in portfolio companies Swallow Solutions and WholeTrees Architecture & Structures, both of Madison.

—Startup accelerator Gener8tor and law firm Quarles & Brady are the first two confirmed tenants for Ward4 Milwaukee, a co-working space planned for the Historic Pritzlaff Building near downtown, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The office is being opened by CSA Partners, a venture fund backed by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.