Free Tuesday Trends sample: UW entrepreneurship rising, real estate mixed, health care falling

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UW entrepreneurship: The University of Wisconsin-Madison and its affiliated licensing office — the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation — announce a $3.2 million partnership aimed at fostering the culture of entrepreneurship on campus. The Discovery to Product initiative, or D2P, would bolster support for the formation of new companies and expand the number of innovations that reach the market, through either startups or arrangements with established companies. D2P will be led by a director, with additional staff to include mentors in residence with specific industry experience. Those mentors would, in turn, be available to advise faculty and students in a wide range of areas related to commercializing new technology, including business strategies, financing, team building, and legal and regulatory hurdles. UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank says the initiative aims to ensure the campus “is on the cutting edge of entrepreneurship and technology commercialization.”


Real estate: Sales of existing homes in Wisconsin last month nearly matched the totals from October of 2012, according to the Wisconsin Realtors Association, but the 0.1 percent decline for the month snapped a streak of 27 consecutive months of sales growth. WRA officials say the numbers are somewhat surprising — potentially due to rising mortgage rates — but say the latest monthly statistics reflected strong markets in both the fall of 2012 and 2013. For the first nine months of 2013, sales were up 12.4 percent over that span in 2012. The median sales price also continued its upward trajectory, rising 5.6 percent to $142,500 last month compared to the previous October.


Health care: After weeks of problems with the rollout of health insurance exchanges under Obamacare, federal officials announce 19,098 completed applications result in just 877 individuals selecting a marketplace plan in Wisconsin. That leads to apologies from the president — along with an adjustment aimed at ensuring Americans can retain health plans set to be cancelled at year’s end — and a visit to Milwaukee from the administration’s health secretary. There are changes afoot in Wisconsin, as well, as Gov. Walker seeks a three-month delay in his plan to move thousands from BadgerCare into the exchanges. Legislators appear supportive of the delay, though Democrats continue to appeal to Walker to accept a federal expansion of Medicaid that he turned down during the state budget process. They also point to neighboring Minnesota, which is getting better results after setting up its own insurance exchange system. Republicans counter the Affordable Care Act was flawed from the get-go, while Walker says the state can’t let people fall through the cracks simply because of the problems at the federal level. In a visit to Milwaukee, federal Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urged Walker to reverse his decision to turn down federal money to expand Medicaid, even as she praised him for his move to extend BadgerCare coverage by three months.