Rockwell, Sift, Fund of Funds, & More: This Week’s WI Watchlist

Catch up on the latest news from Wisconsin’s innovation community with these recent headlines:

—Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation (NYSE: ROK) declined two takeover offers made by Emerson Electric (NYSE: EMR) in the past three months, including one in October that valued Rockwell at more than $27 billion, CNBC reported. Rockwell develops software and provides services for customers in a numbers of industries, including semiconductors and biotechnology. Emerson, based in the St. Louis area, has reportedly attempted to engage with Rockwell for years, but August was the first time it made a formal acquisition offer.

—In other Rockwell-related news, the company was one of five Milwaukee-area organizations that signed on to provide funding for a series of startup accelerator programs run by Wisconsin-based Gener8tor. The funding will cover all operating costs for gBETA, a free, seven-week training program for entrepreneurs, in Milwaukee over the next two years. The other supporters announced this week were Northwestern Mutual, Kohl’s (NYSE: KSS), Robert W. Baird & Co., and the Milwaukee Institute.

Sift Medical Data, a Milwaukee-based startup developing software that it says can help hospitals and other healthcare organizations reduce denials of medical claims they send to insurers, raised $665,000 from investors. Sift said it plans to use some of the proceeds from the seed funding round for research and development, and to expand its data science team. Sift’s founder and CEO is Justin Nicols, who was previously chief operating officer at Okanjo, a Milwaukee-based adtech company.

The Winnebago Seed Fund, a fund created as part of a program supported in part by the state of Wisconsin and aimed at providing capital to startups, led the round, Sift said. It’s the first company to receive an investment under the Badger Fund of Funds program, which launched in 2014.

—Speaking of the Badger Fund of Funds, veteran trader and investor Ross Leinweber is likely to be named managing director of the program’s recipient fund in Milwaukee, BizTimes Media reported. The fund-of-funds initiative calls for a combination of public and private dollars to flow into a central Badger Fund, which then provides capital to recipient funds for investing in early-stage companies. Leinweber reportedly expects the recipient fund in Milwaukee to invest $12 million to $15 million in startups.

—The life insurance giant Northwestern Mutual and Aurora Health Care, a hospital system also based in Milwaukee, each plan to invest $5 million in local businesses over the next five years. Northwestern Mutual, which earlier this year unveiled a $50 million venture fund that will invest in startups across the U.S., is calling its new, Wisconsin-focused initiative the Cream City Venture Capital fund. Aurora, meanwhile, has branded its $5 million fund InvestMKE.

—A Stoughton-based business called The Virtual Foundry has found a way to print metal using a standard 3D printer, Madison Magazine reported. That could be a key step forward because most metal 3D printers on the market today cost several thousands—if not millions—of dollars. Many standard 3D printers, meanwhile, sell for $200 or less. The Virtual Foundry sells metal filaments that it says users can feed into 3D printers to make copper and bronze objects.

—Exact Sciences (NASDAQ: EXAS), which is developing diagnostic tests for several different types of cancer, plans to quadruple its current test-processing capacity in the coming years amid increasing sales of its flagship product. Madison-based Exact said Monday that it completed 161,000 tests of Cologuard, the company’s stool-based DNA test for colorectal cancer, in the three-month period ending Sept. 30. That beat analysts’ projections, as did Exact’s third-quarter revenues ($72.6 million), sending the company’s stock price higher in trading on Tuesday. It was Exact’s fourth consecutive strong quarter.

The company also disclosed its acquisition of Sampleminded, which agreed to sell to Exact in August for $3.2 million in cash, plus stock. Sampleminded is a Salt Lake City-based IT business that has been a partner of Exact for years, and has helped develop and support Exact’s lab information system.

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

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