Wisconsin Roundup: Marquette, NorthStar, Forte Research, & More

Here’s a smattering of the latest news from Wisconsin’s innovation and technology community:

—Madison-based NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes said it completed its first large-scale test run of producing molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), the parent isotope used to make technetium-99m (Tc-99m), the most widely used radioisotope in medical diagnostic imaging. The work was done at the University of Missouri Research Reactor, but NorthStar is building a manufacturing facility in Beloit, WI.

NorthStar is one of the companies trying to become the first domestic producer of the medical radioisotope in more than 25 years, it says. Its competitors include Monona, WI-based Shine Medical Technologies.

—Marquette University president Mike Lovell provided an update last week on the school’s planned space within the Global Water Center near downtown Milwaukee. The university will occupy 8,000 square feet of the 100,000-square-foot research building. Construction of Marquette’s space will begin this summer and be completed by the end of the year. It will include labs, offices, and “open and flexible space” for students and faculty to work on projects, Lovell said.

—During the same speech at the Global Water Center, Lovell said Marquette ended up raising $5.7 million for a new “strategic innovation fund” announced last year. That amount exceeded Lovell’s goal, and it includes $3.7 million in private donations and $2 million from the university’s budget, a spokesman told Xconomy. The money will go toward competitive seed grants for potential university spinouts, entrepreneurship education, and other related campus initiatives. The first batch of 180 proposals are currently under review, Lovell said.

—Xconomy reached out to Madison-based Forte Research Systems to shed more light on the recent “major growth investment” it got from Primus Capital. Company spokeswoman Terri Leigh Rhody declined to say how much Primus invested and how much of the company it now owns. But she did say the investment provided a “level of recapitalization” and will allow the clinical research software developer to add new products and services. Forte also plans to grow its Madison staff from 90 people to around 140, she said.

Tixora, a student-led, Expedia-like website for bus trips between cities, won the $10,000 top prize at this year’s G. Steven Burrill Business Plan Competition at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Other winners in the student startup competition included ITR Medical, which received $7,000; LifeMap, which got $4,000; and Entolution, which won $1,000. Forty-three teams competed this year, which the university said was a record number.

—Meanwhile, four startups won Marquette’s ImpactNext business plan competition: CollegeRecon, GudChew, Hyde Wingman, and Seiva Technologies, according to a blog post on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website. The startups won prizes ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. This year, the annual competition was opened up to startups around Wisconsin, not just those from Marquette’s campus.

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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