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Wisconsin Roundup: Johnson Controls, Redox, Launch Wisconsin, & More

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

Here are some of the past week’s major headlines from Wisconsin’s tech and innovation community:

—Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI) is in early-stage talks to buy EnerSys (NYSE: ENS), which claims to be the world’s largest industrial battery manufacturer, marketer, and distributor, the Wall Street Journal reported. The acquisition would be a boon to Glendale-based JCI’s car battery business as the company focuses more on energy storage and less on low-tech automotive parts like car seats. EnerSys, based in Reading, PA, has a market cap of around $2.7 billion. Since 2000, the company’s revenue has grown to $2.5 billion from $400 million under CEO John Craig, who plans to retire next year.

—Redox, which has developed cloud-based software that makes it easier for software developers to securely access electronic health record data and build applications incorporating it, won its category in the Traction pitch competition, part of the Health 2.0 conference held in Santa Clara, CA. Madison-based Redox was among 10 finalists in two categories, which were picked from more than 200 healthtech companies “entering a growth stage,” says Redox co-founder Niko Skievaski. He says there was no cash prize—only a trophy—but the competition took place at the beginning of the conference and helped with Redox’s name-recognition during subsequent networking.

—ZyQuest Ventures Foundry, a group of 11 executives based in Northeastern Wisconsin, will soon begin spinning startups out of established companies facing a specific business problem. Members of the group, who come from industries like healthcare, manufacturing, logistics, and banking, will fund startups as angel investors but the foundry itself will be a part-owner of the new companies. Al Zeise, founder and CEO of De Pere-based IT consulting firm ZyQuest, started organizing the foundry last year. He says he’s founded at least 10 companies in his career, all of which have either been spinoffs or had a startup spun out of them.

—Speaking of ZyQuest Ventures Foundry, they were among the presenters at Launch Wisconsin, a day-long conference for entrepreneurs held Wednesday at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field. One event within the conference was OnRamp Green Bay, where 28 startups presented to companies like Wisconsin insurance giants American Family and Northwestern Mutual, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

—Shares of Exact Sciences (NASDAQ: EXAS) plunged after the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force classified the company’s flagship colorectal cancer test as an “alternative” screening method, leaving it out of a group of recommended tests. The Madison-based company’s stock declined 46% Tuesday to $9.98 per share.The slide didn’t stop there—as of this writing, Exact was trading at $8.50 per share. The key question now is how insurance companies and doctors will react when they’re negotiating pricing and reimbursement terms for the test, and deciding whether or not to order it for patients.

—The Milwaukee Institute, a non-profit that supports high-performance computing in the Midwest, with a focus in Southeastern Wisconsin, announced it received a $1 million grant to create two computational science fellowships, each lasting up to four years. The fellows will do research in topics including data analytics, modeling, simulation, and visualization, with applications in fields like engineering, applied science, and education. The grant came from the Byron Group, a private foundation based in Brookfield.

—Stratatech, which makes cell-based human skin tissue, will receive up to $247 million over five years from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. BARDA is part of a government defense network preparing for the possibility of mass casualties due to terrorist attacks. The terms of the contract require Madison-based Stratatech to stockpile skin tissue, which the federal government would purchase in the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or other emergency.

—Madison-based HealthMyne reached a “technology agreement” with the Tampa, FL-based Moffitt Cancer Center to implement HealthMyne’s imaging analytics software, with an initial focus on thoracic oncology. The two organizations will work together to create a repository of tumor data to let researchers evaluate samples for imaging biomarkers. HealthMyne did not disclose financial terms in its press release announcing the agreement.