Doyenne Group, Lynx Biosciences, & Epic: This Week’s WI Watchlist
It was a busy week for members of Wisconsin’s innovation community. Let’s catch up on some of the latest news:
—The Doyenne Group will manage a $1.2 million investment fund that’s aimed at supporting startups led by women and people of color, the Capital Times reported. Doyenne provided $200,000 of the total amount; the rest came from the City of Madison, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., and the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. Madison-based Doyenne was previously seeking $400,000 for what it’s calling the “Evergreen Fund,” but ended up raising triple that amount.
—Doyenne unveiled the new fund at its annual “5x5x5” pitch contest, which was won by Madison-based Lynx Biosciences. As a result, a $5,000 grant was awarded to Lynx, which is developing an assay that can help match cancer patients with treatments. Part of the process involves testing the therapeutic response of tumor cells derived from a biopsy, Lynx founder and president Chorom Pak has said.
—Lynx also pitched this week at “Pressure Chamber,” but the winner of that competition was Polco, another Madison-based startup. Polco’s prize is an all-expenses-paid trip to Palo Alto, CA, in October to meet with venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. The company’s software platform is aimed at helping cities, counties, school boards, and other organizations solicit input from members of their communities, and use that feedback to improve public policy.
—Both of the aforementioned pitch contests were held as a part of Forward Festival, an eight-day conference in Madison focused on entrepreneurship. Another Forward Fest event of note was a healthtech panel in which a venture capitalist and leaders at two startups discussed some of the challenges and opportunities around developing and funding innovative software and medical devices. The session highlighted the fact that Madison’s healthtech cluster is crowded with—but not limited to—companies focused on patient records software. The main reason for that is the presence of Verona-based Epic Systems, which employs thousands and has annual revenues north of $2 billion.
—Speaking of Epic, the company’s founder and CEO, Judy Faulkner, was named the 22nd most influential person in healthcare by Modern Healthcare. President Barack Obama finished atop the list. The runner-up was Bernard Tyson, chairman and CEO at Kaiser Permanente, which uses Epic’s software.
—Isthmus, Madison’s alt-weekly newspaper, profiled five entrepreneurs who live and work in the area. One was Jon Hardin, president and CEO at Hardin Design and Development, which makes custom Web and mobile applications for clients like Mercedes-Benz and MSN. Another was Ted Gurman, co-founder of BlueTree Network, which provides consulting services to hospitals and clinics that use software developed by Epic and other vendors.
—The University of Wisconsin-Madison provided an update on a program involving researchers there that’s aimed at developing technologies optimized by ultrafast Internet. The program, known as Smart Gigabit Communities, is sponsored by US Ignite and the researcher leading UW-Madison’s efforts is Suman Banerjee, an engineering and computer science professor. The main project is Paradrop, a “special Wi-Fi router that hosts applications within the router itself,” the university said.
—Paradrop is a graduate of Gigtank, an accelerator based in Chattanooga, TN, that labels itself as an “accelerator for startups developing ultra high-bandwidth business applications.” The accelerator is named after the city’s gigabit fiber-optic Internet network, which came online in 2011. Jill Van Beke, director of entrepreneurship and innovation at Launch Tennessee, says that Chattanooga’s network is a “platform technology that entrepreneurs can come and play in.” Madison is itself considering building a citywide fiber network, and will reportedly present key findings from a recently completed report before the City Council this fall.