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Cellular Dynamics, Epic, & Wellbe: This Week’s Wisconsin Watch List

Xconomy Wisconsin — 

Take a break from the hectic run-up to the holidays and check out these recent major headlines from Wisconsin’s innovation community:

—A judge granted preliminary approval to a settlement in a class-action shareholder lawsuit against Madison-based Cellular Dynamics International, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. In April, CDI tentatively settled three similar lawsuits challenging the biotech’s $307 million sale to Tokyo-based Fujifilm; those were later consolidated into a single suit. Per the terms of the settlement, CDI agreed to pay $500,000 in legal fees for the plaintiffs and expenses, but can continue to deny wrongdoing or violation of its fiduciary duty.

—The State Journal also had a Q&A with CDI CEO Kaz Hirao and executive vice president Chris Parker, both of whom spoke with Xconomy Wisconsin last month for a story on the company.

—Verona-based Epic has endowed three faculty associate positions within the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s computer sciences department, the university said. Epic founder and CEO Judith Faulkner earned a graduate degree in computer sciences from the school and her company, which develops record-keeping software for hospitals and clinics, has hired thousands of UW-Madison alumni over the years. In addition to software development, the endowed positions will focus “application design and building exemplary user experiences,” according to a press release.

—Speaking of UW-Madison, a building located in the heart of campus has been rebranded as a center of gravity for cutting-edge ideas and early-state companies. Tenants of the building, which is now known as @1403, include: Discovery to Product, which helps UW-Madison students, faculty, and staff turn ideas into businesses; the university’s Law and Entrepreneurship clinic, where founders can get advice on things like incorporating and filing patent applications; and the Madworks startup accelerator. The building is owned and operated by University Research Park, a business hub located on Madison’s west side.

—Madison-based Cellectar Biosciences announced it will work with Pierre Fabre, a drug company based in France and one of that country’s largest pharmaceutical laboratories, to develop treatments for cancer. The treatments combine cancer-killing agents, known as cytotoxics, produced by Pierre Fabre and Cellectar’s drug delivery technology. The partnership is the first for Cellectar (NASDAQ: CLRB) since Jim Caruso joined the company as CEO in June, and seems to signal a shift in strategy to focus heavily on drug development.

—Wellbe, whose software helps guide patients through medical procedures and treatments, announced a partnership with another Madison-area company aimed in part at encouraging people preparing for joint replacement surgery to engage in preoperative physical therapy. The agreement is with Kiio, which is developing software-enabled devices that provide objective measurements during PT and rehabilitation exercises. “Wellbe is seeking best-of-breed partnerships to address complementary areas of needs for our customers and Kiio is the first example of this, [with] more to come,” says Wellbe marketing director Maeghan Nicholson in an e-mail.

—Matt Cordio announced he’s leaving The Commons, an organization he co-founded last year that helps college students in Southeastern Wisconsin start businesses and form industry partnerships. Cordio said he plans to devote his full energies to Skills Pipeline, a Milwaukee-based startup he launched in 2012 that helps IT companies find workers. He’ll continue to serve as an advisor and mentor to students participating in The Commons, he said.

—Wisconsin Investment Partners, a Madison-based network of angel investors, was among the nation’s 12 most active angel groups through the first nine months of 2015. The data come from the Angel Resource Institute’s Halo Report, which includes a ranking of the top angel groups, as measured by total number of deals.