Exact Sciences, Shine, Redox & More: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist
Keep up with the latest news from Wisconsin’s innovation community with these recent headlines:
—Exact Sciences said it plans to raise up to $600 million through the sale of notes that can be converted into cash or shares of the company’s common stock, starting in 2025. Madison-based Exact (NASDAQ: EXAS) is developing several screening tests for cancer patients. Its flagship product is Cologuard, a non-invasive, stool-based DNA test for colorectal cancer. The conversion price of $75.43 per share represents a premium of nearly 37 percent over Exact’s closing share price of $55.06 Thursday. Exact said it will pay interest to investors who hold the notes at a rate of 1 percent per year.
Exact said in a prospectus disclosing the offering that it plants to expand its product pipeline in 2018 “by developing additional cancer diagnostic tests, which may include liver and lung cancer tests, and that we expect will result in a material increase to our research and development expenditures.” The offering is expected to close on Jan. 17, Exact said.
—Exact’s announcement about the offering follows news from earlier in the week that the company plans to expand its sales force by 200 employees in 2018. Exact also plans to continue advertising Cologuard on television and through digital channels such as Google, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), and YouTube, said J.P. Fielder, Exact’s senior director of corporate communications. The goal is to get more patients and physicians to learn about the test, which the company markets as an alternative—or, depending on a patient’s results, a forerunner—to getting a colonoscopy.
—The New York Times published an article about the difficulty of shipping a crucial medical radioisotope—molybdenum-99, which has a half-life of 66 hours—from country to country in time for it to be used in bone scans, stress tests, and other imaging procedures performed on patients. Shine Medical Technologies, whose founder Greg Piefer is quoted in the article, is seeking to build a large production facility near its headquarters in Janesville, where the company would use particle accelerator technology to produce molybdenum-99.
—Madison-based Redox said it has partnered with Rx.Health, of Secacus, NJ, to help networks of hospitals and clinics identify and implement technologies that benefit patients with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, and other chronic conditions. Redox works with other healthtech companies to set up data feeds allowing them to move information into and out of computerized patient record systems used by healthcare providers across the U.S. Rx.Health, a spinout of Mount Sinai Health System in New York, develops products that allow clinicians to prescribe high-tech “treatments,” such as wearable devices, mobile health apps, and “digital therapeutics.”
—Cellectar Biosciences plans to lay off six of its 16 employees by the end of March following the company’s decision to shut down manufacturing operations at its Madison headquarters, CEO Jim Caruso said. Cellectar (NASDAQ: CLRB) is developing drugs with the potential to treat malignant tumors and certain forms of blood cancer.
—GrocerKey, a Madison-based startup, introduced tools allowing shoppers to pay for groceries at select supermarkets using their smartphones, rather than having to go through the checkout line. GrocerKey develops white-label software that’s aimed at helping stores create an online presence. The startup had signed up 15 grocers as clients as of June, including Janesville-based Woodman’s Markets. “Cashier-less checkout is the next step,” Jeremy Neren, founder and CEO of GrocerKey, said in a news release.
—Startups headquartered in Wisconsin raised about $116 million of venture capital last year, a major decrease from the state’s 2015 and 2016 totals, according to data from the investment-tracking firms PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association. The Badger State’s down year ran counter to the national trend in venture investing; in 2017, U.S. startups raised $84.2 billion, the highest year on record since the early 2000s.
—Beginning later this year, one of Madison’s busiest north-south thoroughfares, Park Street, will serve as a test bed for autonomous vehicle technology, the University of Wisconsin-Madison said. Researchers at the school have teamed up with traffic engineers employed by the city to establish a 6.2-mile corridor extending southward from the university campus, where they’ll program stoplights to exchange information with one another and change modes when certain circumstances arise. For example, if an ambulance is rushing a patient to one of the hospitals located along the north end of Park Street, “traffic signals could work together to clear traffic” for the ambulance, the university said.
—Wauwatosa-based TAI Diagnostics, which is seeking to commercialize a non-invasive test to monitor the health of organ transplant recipients, announced a partnership with United Therapeutics (NASDAQ: UTHR). The Silver Spring, MD-based company was also an investor in TAI’s recently closed $10 million Series A funding round, the company said. Frank Langely, TAI’s CEO, said late last year that his company’s plan is to begin selling the test in the first half of 2018.