Wisconsin Technology Council: Turnaround: Story of Exact Sciences move, rebirth to be told at Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium

Contact: Joy Sawatzki or Tom Still at 608-442-7557
Or visit www.wisconsintechnologycouncil.com to learn more

MADISON – Five years ago, Exact Sciences seemed on its way to becoming an expensive biotech failure in Boston. Today, it’s a Wisconsin success story and poised to change how patients and medical professionals everywhere go about detecting colorectal cancer.

Chief Executive Officer Kevin Conroy and Chief Operating Officer Maneesh Arora, who moved the company from Massachusetts to Wisconsin in 2009, will tell the story of the company’s rebound and growth Wednesday, Nov. 12, the opening day of the 2014 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium at Madison’s Monona Terrace Convention Center.

The annual symposium, known by different names over the past 30 years, has been a premier event where companies gained visibility among investors, other entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Recent approvals of Exact Sciences’ colon cancer screening test capped a long and winding process that gathered momentum when the company moved to Wisconsin. The approvals were the first granted on the same day by two key federal agencies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Exact Sciences’ Cologuard test detects the presence in stool samples of red blood cells and DNA mutations that might indicate the presence of colon cancer or its precursors. The company hopes to make inroads in prevention, particularly with what it estimates to be as many as 23 million Americans between the ages of 50 and 75 who are not getting screened as recommended for colon cancer, the second leading cancer killer in the United States.

The Mayo Clinic will be the first U.S. health system to offer Cologuard; Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin will be the first in Wisconsin.

“With Exact Sciences poised to grow even more in Madison, we’re thrilled to hear how Kevin and Maneesh brought the company here – and, more important, why they thought it was the right move,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.

This year’s conference, with a theme of “30X10,” will celebrate a rich history dating to 1984. Originally the Madison Venture Fair, the event has been called the Wisconsin Venture Conference, the Wisconsin Life Sciences & Venture Conference – and for the past 10 years – the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium. Nearly 500 companies have presented during the conferences in one format or another.

There are two separate presentation levels at the Early Stage Symposium: the Wisconsin Angel Network Investors’ Track and the Elevator Pitch Olympics. The deadline for company applications has passed; more than 60 companies applied.

Other speakers and highlights will be announced in coming weeks. The conference will also feature:

– A dozen panel discussions or plenary sessions featuring leading entrepreneurs, investors and others tied to the tech sector.

– “Office Hours,” offering the opportunity to meet with subject experts on a variety of topics in small discussion groups or one-on-one.

– SBIR/STTR awards luncheon to recognize grant recipients from the past year.

– The inaugural “Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education” award presentation.

– The annual “First Look” forum featuring selected campus-based technologies.

– Exhibit hall showcasing more than 40 Wisconsin companies.

– A first-night reception, two luncheons, two breakfasts and other networking opportunities, including an investors-only dinner.

The Tech Council produces the conference. Sponsors so far include: Aberdean; American Family Insurance; American Transmission Co.; AT&T; Baird Capital; Baker Tilly; BDO; BloodCenter of Wisconsin; Center for Technology Commercialization; ConfPlus; Cresa Madison; Dane County Regional Airport; Findorff; First Business Bank; Foley & Lardner; Godfrey & Kahn; Group Health Cooperative; HP Enterprise Services; Insperity; K&L Gates; Madison Gas & Electric; Makin’ HEY Communications; Marshfield Clinic; Michael Best & Friedrich; Neider & Boucher; Nelson Schmidt; Quarles & Brady; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren; Ruedebusch Development & Construction; Settlers Bank; Skyward; Smith & Gesteland; State of Wisconsin Investment Board; Tweedee Productions; UW-Milwaukee Research Foundation; Venture Investors; Virent Energy; Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek; Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.; Wisconsin Technical College System; and WTN Media.

To register, go to www.wisearlystage.com. “Early bird” registration is open through Oct. 21. Hotel rooms are available at a discounted group rate through Oct. 12.