FRI AM News: Venture Investors fund targeting medical surgery, drug discovery startups; WisBusiness: the Podcast with Greg Keenan, WARF Accelerator program manager

— Venture Investors’ new $75 million fund is investing in three companies developing medical surgery technologies plus another creating a drug discovery platform. 

Earlier this week, the venture capital firm announced the close of its latest fund, which will make investments in early stage health care companies. In a release, the fund managers emphasize their proximity to both UW-Madison and the University of Michigan, noting the two universities together spend more than $2.5 billion on research. 

“We have backed more than 40 university spin-outs commercializing innovative solutions to the biggest challenges in health care,” said Jim Adox, managing director for the firm’s presence in Michigan. 

Along with announcing the new fund, Venture Investors is opening a new office in Milwaukee with a goal of engaging more actively in the city’s startup community. 

Three of the four companies receiving investments from the new fund are led by entrepreneurs that Venture Investors had success with in the past, according to Scott Button, managing director. 

“Many of our advisors were a part of past portfolio companies,” Button said. “People are the most important part of this business.”

See more: 

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Greg Keenan, manager of the WARF Accelerator program. 

He discusses some of the research being commercialized through the program, which will be showcased at the upcoming WARF Innovation Day  in early November in Madison. 

“As you might imagine, this campus covers a very broad spectrum of technologies,” he said. “Our program supports everything from medical devices to innovations in food and ag, to material science to chemistry.” 

He says the program has more than 100 technologies in the Accelerator portfolio alone, each of which has received investment from WARF. 

“We talked about the challenge of connecting with industry — this is one way we’re doing that, by highlighting these technologies and trying to increase that engagement with industry and the community,” he said. 

Listen to the podcast here: 

See a full list of podcasts, sponsored by UW-Madison: 

— GOP Rep. Travis Tranel is slamming U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue for his comments on the future of the dairy industry saying his “get big or get out model” is why markets are oversupplied and prices are down. 

While in Madison for World Dairy Expo, Perdue said during a town hall it would be “very difficult” for family dairy farms to stay in business unless they scale up in size. He also told reporters he doesn’t think small businesses should “have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.” 

Tranel, whose shared family farm has a herd of more than 500 cows, wrote in a letter to Perdue that while he agrees no business should be guaranteed a profit, the USDA needs to work toward making viable markets available to all types of producers, big and small. 

He added the current course will result in a rural America that is “non-existent or bleak at best.” 

Tranel wrote when rural communities lose a farm, “they also lose a farm family.” 

“The community has fewer students in their schools, less parishioners in their church pews, less people to support their Main Street businesses, less people paying taxes, I could go on and on and on,” Tranel wrote. “I would understand needing to explain this to the Secretary of Defense, but not the United States Secretary of Agriculture.” 

Read the letter:

See the release: 

Tranel is part of a WisBusiness panel discussion on Oct. 17 in Platteville. 

See more:

— Foxconn has announced $83 million in new construction contracts at its site in Mount Pleasant following the start of vertical construction last month. 

A release from the company’s construction manager, Gilbane/Exyte, shows precast panel installation is nearly complete at the site with more than 400 put in place. With the latest awards, the total value of construction contracts at the site is “well in excess” of $250 million. 

Companies receiving contracts this time around hail from Waukesha, Milwaukee, West Allis, Pewaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Black River Falls, Oak Creek, Medford and Fond du Lac. Others from Illinois and Indiana are partnering with firms based in the state. 

The contracts cover projects like laying concrete, building stairs, installing wall panels and roofing, paving, landscaping, site utilities, excavation and stormwater drain work. 

See the full list of contracted firms: 

See more in Foxconn Reports below. 

— Four of the top 10 most expensive ZIP codes for renting in Wisconsin this year are located in Milwaukee, a recent report from RentCafe finds. 

Two of the top 10 are in Madison, including the second most expensive ZIP code on the list, with $1,754 per month, and the sixth most expensive, with $1,478 per month. 

Meanwhile, the most expensive ZIP code in the state is in Mequon, with an average monthly rent of $1,917.  

The third most expensive is in downtown Milwaukee, with average rent of $1,689. Other Milwaukee ZIP codes on the list had average rents between $1,350 and $1,450. 

The largest change was seen in Brookfield, where average rents in two ZIP codes increased 6.8 percent and 3.6 percent this year. 

RentCafe is a national housing search website run by Yardi Systems, a large data analysis firm focused on real estate and property management. This report is compiled annually at the end of the peak rental season, including data from nearly 7,000 ZIP codes across 130 U.S. markets. 

See the latest report: 

— The state Department of Health Services is now tracking 69 confirmed and probable cases of severe lung illnesses in people who reported vaping, with 17 more cases under investigation. 

At least 17 people around the country have died in connection to this outbreak, and the CDC recently announced more than 800 cases have been identified in 46 U.S. states. No vaping-related deaths have been reported in Wisconsin. 

Track the state-level investigation here: 

— A marijuana advocacy group based in southeast Wisconsin has organized sending more than 1,200 letters from residents to state lawmakers supporting a bill to legalize medical marijuana in the state. 

The legislation was introduced last month and authored by Sens. Pat Testin, R-Stevens Point, and Jon Erpenbach, D-West Point, as well as Rep. Chris Tayler, D-Madison. It would legalize medical dispensaries as well as home-grown medical marijuana, and allow doctors to recommend it as a treatment for a number of conditions, according to a release. 

The bill’s supporters point to Marquette Law School Poll results from earlier in the year that found 83 percent of respondents support legalizing medical marijuana. 

The letter-writing campaign is being orchestrated by the Southeastern Wisconsin chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. The group is calling for the bill to be taken up by the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. 

See more: 


# Uline CEO Dick Uihlein catapults to top contributor for conservative political action committees

# Milwaukee streetcar’s lakefront line delayed by construction project

# Frozen out? New building owners, Chocolate Shoppe tenants are at a standoff

# Startup Milwaukee Week to return with diversity focus



– JFC approves funding for Dairy Innovation Hub

– September class III milk price announced at $18.31


– Potawatomi gears up to tear down Cargill plants near Milwaukee hotel and casino

– City to pursue other options if Couture doesn’t move ahead by June

– 212 senior housing units proposed in Greenfield


– Latino leaders in western Wisconsin see support group as vital for immigrants


– Foxconn awards $83 million in construction contracts


– Epic Systems gearing up for yet another expansion in Verona


– Fourth person arrested in THC vape manufacturing case


– Sprecher Brewing sees potential in craft seltzer market

– Private equity firm acquires MPE


– Committee votes to confirm Cole as DNR secretary

– Bills would keep residential projects from getting special energy-efficiency financing


– Real estate world opens up on best and worst cities to work with in Milwaukee area

– Schuster’s redevelopment in Milwaukee’s Bronzeville to cost $84M, include apartments

– Details unveiled for redevelopment of former Schuster’s building on King Drive


– Some Milwaukee aldermen want to ban plastic straws at bars and restaurants


– Von Maur plans second Wisconsin location at former Boston Store site

– $50,000 Harley payment part of deal to smooth sale of Iron Town dealership


– MPS Foundation honors Milwaukee Bucks, Kansas State coach Bruce Weber: Slideshow


– U.S. Cellular announces plans for 5G service in Wisconsin


– Wisconsin cows fare well in Dairy Expo competitions


– Madison utility station fires caused by faulty part, company says


– Andrew Gussert: Boys & Girls Clubs of Wisconsin invest in our state’s future


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation: Matalco, Inc. establishes operations in Wisconsin Rapids 

Wisconsin Bankers Association: How to protect your small business from business email compromise scams