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Wisconsin Roundup: Exact Sciences, Arrowhead, MCW, Marquette, & More

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

Here are some of the latest headlines from Wisconsin’s technology and innovation community:

—Exact Sciences (NASDAQ: EXAS) could receive up to $9 million in state tax credits if it creates more than 750 jobs and invests $26 million in capital purchases here by 2020. The Madison-based company has been beefing up its staff after receiving FDA approval last year for Cologuard, its stool-based DNA test for detecting colorectal cancer. It has grown to more than 400 employees nationwide from just two employees when it relocated from Boston to Madison in 2009.

—Midwestern BioAg, a Blue Mounds, WI-based provider of biological products to help farmers boost soil fertility, has raised $6 million from investors, a new SEC document shows. The new funding comes on the heels of last summer’s acquisition and $20 million capital infusion by Proteus Environmental Technologies and Grower’s Secret.

—Arrowhead Research (NASDAQ: ARWR) has begun a Phase 1 clinical trial in Australia testing ARC-AAT, its drug candidate for treating liver disease associated with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD), a rare genetic disorder affecting the liver and lungs. This is Arrowhead’s second drug to enter clinical trials, following ARC-520, which is in Phase 2 and aims to treat hepatitis B.

Arrowhead’s technology uses RNA interference (RNAi), which is intended to prevent disease-related genes from producing proteins that would otherwise wreak havoc in the body. The company is based in Pasadena, CA, but has research and development operations in Madison.

—The Medical College of Wisconsin was awarded an $8 million federal grant to continue funding the Rat Genome Database, a collection of rat genetic and genomic research that is free for academic researchers, healthcare providers, and life sciences companies to use. The database was established in 1999 by the Medical College’s Howard Jacob, an Xconomist and the primary investigator on the new grant, and Peter Tonellato, a Harvard Medical School senior research scientist.

—University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have partnered with farmers and renewable energy companies to further research into converting dairy farm manure into products like biogas, animal bedding and mulch, plastics, and potentially to help make ethanol. The new consortium is being funded by a $7 million federal grant. The first effort in the initiative, the Accelerated Renewable Energy Project, is underway at Maple Leaf Dairy, a 5,000-cow farm in Manitowoc County.

—For the first time in its 14-year history, the business plan competition at Marquette University has been opened up to entrepreneurs around Wisconsin, not just those on its Milwaukee campus. The competition, which takes place in April, has also partnered this year with Milwaukee-based Fashion Angels to allow young girls from across the country to pitch a startup idea and get a chance to win a $10,000 college scholarship.