Latest gBETA Class Unveiled, Suggests Ties With WARF Are Solidifying

In November, the startup accelerator Gener8tor announced a partnership with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, which manages patents and licensing of intellectual property for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Under the agreement, WARF became a sponsor of gBETA, a no-strings-attached accelerator run by Gener8tor for early-stage companies affiliated with colleges and universities in Wisconsin.

Additional ties between the foundation and gBETA have now come into view with the unveiling of the accelerator’s latest class, the first to enter the program since WARF pledged its support. Three out of five startups in the cohort—Linectra, OpenNF, and SciArt—have worked or are working with WARF to patent their technologies.

Maggie Brickerman, who directs gBETA, says that’s not a coincidence. But at the same time, she says, it’s important to keep in mind that gBETA isn’t under any obligation to work with WARF-affiliated organizations, and vice versa.

“When they came on as a sponsor, we definitely had a stated goal that we wanted to work with WARF-licensed technology,” Brickerman says. “But the companies in the cohort were the top five companies that we interviewed, and I think that will continue to be the case. Also, WARF is competing, like anyone else.”

Brickerman says gBETA accepts about 10 percent of startups that apply for the program. According to a press release, the nine companies that have graduated from gBETA have together raised more than $1 million and employ dozens of workers.

23VIVI and Exis, which were both in the last gBETA class to graduate, are now going through Gener8tor’s core, 12-week accelerator.

The seven-week gBETA program that’s currently in session will culminate with a pitch event, known as LiveBETA, on April 12 in Madison.

Here are brief descriptions of the five companies in gBETA’s latest cohort:

Admit Sensei helps users navigate the steps involved in applying to business school by connecting them with current MBA students, known as “Senseis.” People in that group can earn money by selling their old applications, or by providing personalized feedback to prospective students, according to the startup’s website. CEO and co-founder Angela Peltzer is a student at UW-Madison’s School of Business.

Linectra makes a 3D metal printer that’s “high-resolution and high-throughput,” and works faster than competing devices, according to the press release. Its customers include prototyping shops and groups in the healthcare and aerospace industries. According to multiple reports, UW-Madison medical physics graduate student Brandon Walker is one of the minds behind the technology.

OpenNF develops software aimed at improving network functions (NFs), which are systems that analyze and modify data in order to improve network performance and security. The company’s website lists few particulars, but within the UW-Madison’s Department of Computer Sciences website there are links to publications with detailed explanations of OpenNF’s technology, including a paper from 2014 that introduced the concept.

—ReNeuroGen is working on a new treatment for stroke and brain injuries. The company says in the release that its lead candidate has been shown to shrink lesions and reduce neurological deficits following experimentally introduced strokes. In December, ReNeuroGen won $25,000 as part of the Bridge to Cures healthcare innovation pitch event. One of the scientists working to develop the new therapy is Kirk Pritchard, a professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

SciArt has created digital tools that allow engineers to more quickly progress from an idea to a physical prototype. The idea is to specify strength and functionality requirements for a given object, which the software then uses to … Next Page »

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Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Wisconsin. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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