MON AM News: Legislature passes bills related to startup funding, oversight; UW-Madison ranked 8th for research

— The state Legislature has passed several bills championed by the Wisconsin Technology Council that would change state laws surrounding startup funding and oversight. 

“These bills are examples of how bipartisan review can help to resolve often-complicated issues while helping to improve the Wisconsin economy,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech Council.

One bill would alter the state’s investor tax credits law to allow insurance companies to benefit from the program. According to a release from the Tech Council, the bill would clarify language in the statute, clearing up an issue that was introduced when the program was expanded a decade ago. 

The bipartisan Act 255 law took effect in 2005, creating the state’s Qualified New Business Venture Program, which is overseen by WEDC. Investors in qualified QNBV companies can receive a 25 percent tax credit on their investment, capped at $3 million in credits per company for $12 million in eligible investments.  

When the program first got its start, credits could be applied to corporate income taxes, individual income taxes and trust income taxes. These various tax liabilities are based in three different sections of state law, with the same language in each section on how the credits can be applied. 

When the program was expanded in 2009, lawmakers added gross premium taxes to the eligibility list. These taxes are applied on insurance premiums, similar to a sales tax. 

According to a release, language from separate 2009 bills didn’t line up, leading to uncertainty about how the investor tax credits could be applied. The Tech Council says the newly passed bill would “tie up the loose ends” without any adverse fiscal impact.

See more: 

— UW-Madison has been ranked 8th among public and private universities in the latest national research rankings from the National Science Foundation. 

Data from the Higher Education Research and Development survey shows the university had around $1.21 billion in research expenditures in 2018, with nearly half of that coming from federal awards. 

The university’s research spending increased by 1.3 percent from the previous fiscal year. 

The HERD survey first began in 1972, and UW-Madison was ranked among the top five in the nation for research expenditures every year until 2014. The university fell to 6th place in 2015 and hasn’t made it back into the top five since then. 

Steve Ackerman, interim vice chancellor for research and graduate education, says he’s disappointed with the lower ranking. 

“UW-Madison expenditures have increased, but other universities realized greater growth in their research enterprise,” he said. “We also know that slight differences in reporting methodology can produce huge differences in expenditures from one institution to another, and from one year to the next.”

The top private contributors to UW-Madison are the UW Foundation and WARF, which awarded the university $80 million for fiscal year 2019. According to a release, startups linked to UW-Madison support nearly 25,000 jobs in Wisconsin, and contribute $2.3 billion to the state’s economy. 

See more on the HERD survey: 

— Demand for apartment rentals in Wisconsin remains strong according to the latest rent report from RentCafe, with year-over-year increases in all but one of the 18 cities highlighted in the report. 

Rents in Milwaukee increased by 0.7 percent over the month in October, reaching $1,211. And Madison rents increased 0.3 percent to reach $1,262. Just one city had average prices above the national average of $1,476 — Brookfield, with $1,484. 

By comparison, the cheapest city to rent an apartment is Racine, with average rents of $833. 

The report shows smaller cities are seeing the greatest changes in rent. West Allis had the highest increase of all cities analyzed, with an increase of 3.7 percent over the month and 14.6 percent over the year. The average October rent in West Allis was $1,054. 

New Berlin average rents were down 1.2 percent over the month, reaching $1,202 in October. 

See the report: 

— The number of entries in Foxconn’s Smart Cities Smart Futures competition is significantly down, from 325 submissions in 2018 to 71 for this year’s contest, according to a report from BizTimes Milwaukee. 

The company pledged $1 million over three years in cash and other prizes for the contest, which provides funding and other services to students, faculty and staff at higher education institutions in Wisconsin for innovative ideas. 

Foxconn announced an emphasis on manufacturing for the contest’s second year. The report shows contestants have been narrowed down to 25 finalists who will each receive $500. 

See more in Foxconn Reports below. 

— The latest financial report from Cellectar Biosciences shows the company’s R&D expenses have increased in the third quarter of this year, while the company’s cash on hand has decreased. 

The company’s cash and cash equivalents were about $13.3 million at the end of September, compared to $16.8 million at the end of June. 

Research and development expenses for the third quarter were $2.7 million, compared to $1.8 million for the second quarter. Cumulative R&D costs for the first nine months of this year were $6.8 million, compared to $5.8 million for the same period last year. 

This year’s R&D costs mostly went to startup costs and support for an ongoing pediatric study. 

Company leaders say their current cash balance is “adequate” to fund budgeted operations through the first quarter of 2021. 

See the release: 

— The state Department of Health Services is now tracking 92 confirmed and probable cases of severe lung illnesses associated with vaping, with 11 more patients under investigation. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week 2,172 cases of vaping-related lung diseases around the country. This follows the CDC’s recent determination that vitamin E acetate is a “chemical of concern” among people with the lung diseases. 

After CDC labs tested fluid samples from 29 affected patients in 10 states, vitamin E acetate was found in all of the samples. The chemical is used as a thickening agent in devices that vaporize THC, the psychoactive component derived from marijuana. 

Of the 29 tested samples, 82 percent were found to contain THC and 62 percent contained nicotine. 

Follow the state-level investigation here: 

See more on the issue from the CDC: 


# Report: Milwaukee, Racine rank as worst cities for African Americans to live

# Virtual reality venue to open in Bay View

# Rite-Hite considers move to Reed Street Yards in Milwaukee

# Exact Sciences could double Cologuard lab space along Beltline



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– Entries down in second year of Foxconn’s Smart Cities contest


– Wisconsin communities back bill to end vaccine waivers


– New nonprofit to focus on growing, retaining African American leadership in Milwaukee

– Milwaukee’s African-American execs launch leadership alliance, want city a top destination for black professionals


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– Florence County declares itself second amendment sanctuary


– Rite-Hite considering relocation to Reed Street Yards in Milwaukee


– Despite increases in state road funds, local governments still turning to wheel taxes


– Wheel & Sprocket targets early 2020 opening in Bay View


– Brewers’ new-and-improved team store to reopen Monday at Miller Park


– Midwest Express hopes to launch service in January

– Wisconsin at risk of losing $217M in federal transportation money


– WEC Energy eliminates 30 positions in Milwaukee, other locations


– Tom Still: Center of the fusion world may be in Wisconsin

– Tim Sanborn, Ann Dodge and Carrie Chapman: Protect Wisconsin’s youth by raising the tobacco purchase age


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