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Wisconsin Roundup: Exact Sciences, Cellectar, BrightStar, & More

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

New funding, an office relocation, and a grant to develop a new drug are among the announcements we’re watching this week in Wisconsin’s tech and innovation community. Here are the details:

—Exact Sciences (NASDAQ: EXAS) is set to move its headquarters to downtown Madison from the city’s west side after the Madison Common Council approved a $200 million project known as Judge Doyle Square, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The $46.7 million taxpayer contribution is contingent on the company, which makes a non-invasive, stool-based DNA test for colon cancer, having 400 people working in the new, 250,000-square-foot building by the end of 2018. Exact Sciences wants to start construction on the project, which will also include a 216-room hotel and other amenities, by the end of the year and move into the space in mid-2017.

—Madison-based Cellectar Biosciences (NASDAQ: CLRB) announced it was awarded a $2.3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop a new drug candidate designed to treat micro-metastatic disease. The grant will support preclinical work and a Phase 1 clinical study of the new candidate, which was developed using Cellectar’s drug delivery platform. Earlier this week, Cellectar announced a $3.3 million common stock offering, which sent shares in the company tumbling.

—The Milwaukee-based BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation announced investments totaling $660,000 in four early-stage companies in the state: Bright Cellars, a Milwaukee-based wine subscription service; EmOpti, a Milwaukee-area developer of software to improve the quality and efficiency of emergency healthcare; Quietyme, a Neshkoro-based startup that makes sensors capable of monitoring noise, temperature, light, and humidity; and SteelGlaze, a steel and glass railing supplier based in Wausau. The lead investors were N29 Capital Partners, a recently formed Central Wisconsin fund, the Golden Angels Network, American Family Ventures, and CSA Partners.

—The University of Wisconsin-Madison finished 16th in a global ranking of universities producing the most venture capital-backed entrepreneurs. The list comes from PitchBook, a firm that monitors investment trends. From 2010 to 2015, the report found 211 entrepreneurs who were educated at UW-Madison and raised $1.7 billion in capital from private equity investors, venture investors, and mergers and acquisitions. Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley topped the list with 561 and 536 such entrepreneurs, respectively.

VibeTech is planning a “major fundraise” later this year, CFO Ed Morgan told Xconomy, using new provisions that allow a Wisconsin business to raise up to $1 million from state investors through crowdfunding portals. The Sheboygan-based startup, which makes a leg press machine that exercises your leg muscles for you, has raised about $1 million, with none of that coming from venture funds or angel investors. Helping astronauts maintain muscle mass and bone density while in space, which led to the idea for VibeTech in 2002, may yet be in the stars for the company.

—The Water Council, based in Milwaukee, announced a partnership with resource management company Veolia to sponsor a competition that rewards ideas for improving sustainability in water and cleantech. The competition, called “Pow! emPowering Opportunities in Water,” will select up to three entrants and award them with $40,000 in cash, plus in-kind benefits. Competitors must address one of four challenge areas: smart-data technologies, resilience and sustainable water management, watershed management, or disruptive water innovation.