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Exact Sciences: It’s been a good couple of weeks for the Madison-based molecular diagnostics company. First, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel votes unanimously to recommend approval of Cologuard, a non-invasive DNA test to screen for colorectal cancer. The FDA’s Molecular and Clinical Genetics Panel found that the test demonstrated safety, effectiveness and a favorable risk benefit profile, and the company notes a clinical trial was more than 92 percent successful in average risk patients. Then, the company’s efforts to obtain full FDA approval of the test get a boost after announcing a stock sale worth more than $137 million. The $12.75 per share sale generated more than $146 million before fees and other expenses were factored in. In addition to funding its work with the FDA, Exact also said the proceeds would go toward commercialization, product development and other expenses.
UW System: Reports that the UW System held nearly $1 billion in reserve in early 2013 prompted an outcry from state legislators — they then implemented a two-year tuition freeze, new financial reporting requirements and dramatic reductions in budget allocations from those originally proposed by the governor. After changes in the following months to both the UW Board of Regents and the top levels of UW administration, the relationship between Van Hise Hall and the Capitol appears to have thawed somewhat. But UW officials say they’re still projected to have more than $1 billion in unrestricted funds at the close of fiscal year 2014. They note just 3 percent of that amount hasn’t been committed for any purpose, but the report prompts Gov. Walker and GOP legislators to call for yet another tuition freeze in the subsequent two years. UW System President Ray Cross says the system will appropriately manage and explain its resources — while noting that tuition levels are already lower than many peer institutions. Meanwhile, observers say newly passed legislation to allow classified federal research on UW campuses signals a turning point in how the Legislature and UW view those dollars. The state has been largely missing out on such grants and contracts for more than 40 years — a hangover from Vietnam-era protests — but the national urgency surrounding cybersecurity has opened new opportunities for research, company attraction and job creation, proponents say.
Entrepreneurship: Wisconsin ranks near the bottom of all states in monthly entrepreneurial business creation, according to a new report. The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, which combines U.S. Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly survey information, placed Wisconsin as the fifth-worst state in the country, with a creation rate of 170 adults creating business per 100,000, or 0.17 percent. Wisconsin is joined at the bottom by some of its Midwestern neighbors, including Minnesota (160 per 100,000), Indiana (160 per 100,000) and last-ranked Iowa (110 per 100,000). Wisconsin also ranked near the bottom in the amount of change in entrepreneurial business creation over the last decade with a drop from 0.27 percent between 2001 and 2003 to 0.19 percent between 2011 and 2013.