Foxconn, Gener8tor, URP, & More: This Week’s Wisconsin Watchlist

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

—Foxconn purchased a seven-story office building in downtown Milwaukee that will serve as the Taiwanese multinational’s Wisconsin headquarters, according to a news release issued by Gov. Scott Walker. Foxconn, which is perhaps best known for assembling iPhones, iPads, and other gadgets at plants it operates in China, has pledged to spend $10 billion by 2020 to construct a 25 million-square-foot facility in Southeastern Wisconsin and manufacture electronic displays there.

Foxconn bought the Milwaukee building from Northwestern Mutual, a life insurance and financial services giant based in the city. Northwestern Mutual is considering having some of the employees who manage its venture capital funds work from the building after Foxconn moves in, according to a Milwaukee Business Journal report.

—Gener8tor, a Wisconsin-based organization that runs training programs for entrepreneurs in several Midwestern states, said it’s expanding into Indiana. The first program Gener8tor will hold in the Hoosier State is gBETA, an equity-free accelerator for startups with local roots. Gener8tor will select five companies to participate in its inaugural gBETA Indianapolis program, which will run from April 29 to June 14. Gener8tor said it plans to run the program from a building operated by Hendricks Commercial Properties in the city’s downtown.

—The FDA approved a device developed by Beloit-based NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes, a potential key step toward making the company the first in decades to domestically produce a widely used medical radioisotope. NorthStar said it plans to produce and sell an isotope (molybdenum-99), which the company’s device decays into technetium-99m, the most widely used radioisotope in medical diagnostic imaging. NorthStar, which will initially sell molybdenum-99 produced at a nuclear reactor in Columbia, MO, said it expects to begin shipping its isotopes and equipment in coming weeks.

—Leaders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison could soon sign off on new building projects at University Research Park (URP), a business park affiliated with the school and home of many leading Madison biotech companies, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Today, the 260-acre site reportedly houses 142 businesses, which employ a combined 3,800 people. Future URP tenants might include cafes—which could help workers satisfy food and caffeine cravings while staying close to their offices—as well as apartment buildings and a hotel, the newspaper reported.

—Alex Kubicek, co-founder and CEO of the Madison-based startup Understory, authored an op-ed in the International Business Times about the potential of sensors and other “Internet of Things” (IoT) technologies to improve our understanding of weather events and insurers’ bottom lines. According to Kubicek, Europe’s weather observation infrastructure is made up of 30 countries’ national weather services, as well as a cross-continent meteorological services network. Over the years, these services have struggled to share data with one another, he writes. This has elevated Europe’s risk profile among insurance companies, some of which have decided to no longer do business there. However, “with the advent of IoT technology, costs are dropping significantly, providing an opportunity for Europe to get the weather and risk understanding it deserves,” Kubicek writes.

—One of the venture capital firms that has invested in Understory is Madison-based 4490 Ventures, which recently raised $49 million for its second fund. Greg Robinson, managing director at 4490 Ventures, said his firm may raise additional money for its new fund, which will invest in Midwest-based startups.

—Fiserv (NASDAQ: FISV) sold a controlling interest in its lending unit to Warburg Pincus, a private equity firm based in New York. Brookfield-based Fiserv, which develops software used by banks and other financial services organizations, said it … Next Page »

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

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