TUE AM News: HaloVino founder going into Early Stage Symposium with new sustainability focus; Evers administration, ag groups urge Republicans to not reject Pfaff nomination

— Milwaukee entrepreneur Jessica Bell is going into this year’s Early Stage Symposium with a new focus on sustainability for her startup HaloVino. 

After closing on a $355,000 early stage round late last year, Bell says she’s gearing up to raise more funds as she prepares for a pitch presentation and meetings with investors at this week’s conference. The annual Early Stage Symposium is being held by the Wisconsin Technology Council Nov. 6-7 in Madison. 

“When it comes down to it, investing is a face-to-face business,” Bell told WisBusiness.com “It’s a little like dating — you’ve got to find the right fit for your company and for the investor. It’s a great place to start building relationships that are so necessary when you need to raise capital.” 

HaloVino debuted its disposable shatterproof wine glass in summer 2016, and has since piloted the product at a number of outdoor festivals and sporting events. Now, Bell says she’s looking to expand into other beverage categories, including cups for beer and other popular drinks. Plus she says the new focus on sustainability is crucial for a business that sells plastic cups. 

According to Bell, the U.S. live events industry spends $30 billion each year on plastic cups. By focusing only on wine, she says it would be “difficult to make the numbers work for a high-growth entity.” By expanding to other drinks, she hopes to diversify the business and drive growth more quickly. 

Jessica Boling is one of this year’s conference co-chairs and director of operations for Silicon Pastures, a Milwaukee-based angel investor group that’s celebrating its 20th year in 2020. She says the Early Stage Symposium helps investor groups like hers find new opportunities for investment in the state. 

“Through investing in early-stage companies, that’s how we get more economic growth, how we keep talent here,” Boling said.

See more: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2019/halovino-founder-going-into-early-stage-symposium-with-new-sustainability-focus/ 

— The Evers administration, agriculture groups and even his old boss U.S. Rep. Ron Kind made a last-minute push yesterday to — at a minimum — delay a confirmation vote on DATCP Secretary Brad Pfaff as they tried to persuade Republicans not to reject the nomination.

Kind, D-La Crosse, said his former deputy chief of staff was a “no-brainer” to lead DATCP, while U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, also weighed in, saying the GOP-run Legislature should “put partisan politics aside and confirm him so he can continue doing his job and we can all get to work putting our Wisconsin farmers first.”

It was unclear whether the lobbying effort was having an impact. The office of Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, didn’t return messages yesterday seeking comment.

DOA Secretary Joel Brennan said several GOP senators he’s spoken to in recent days were uncomfortable with the prospect of rejecting a cabinet pick, something that hasn’t happened in at least 32 years.

Still, he wouldn’t predict whether the lobbying effort would be successful.

“They don’t like the way that this is rolling out,” Brennan said of the GOP senators. “They’re looking for, hoping that there might be an alternative.” He declined to name the senators.

Pfaff cleared the Senate Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions Committee 9-0 in February. But since then, he has clashed with GOP lawmakers on funding to help address farmer suicides. And ag groups have pushed back hard on proposed changes to siting rules for livestock facilities. 

See more at WisPolitics.com: http://www.wispolitics.com/category/subscribers-only/pm-update/ 

— UW-Madison is launching a new automated robot food delivery service on campus through a partnership with San Francisco-based Starship Technologies. 

More than 30 small robotic units are now active on the Madison campus and can deliver orders from University Housing Dining & Culinary Services. They are sleek and white, around the size of a small cooler, with six wheels and a small red flag on top. They can carry up to 20 pounds each. 

A release from the university shows users can access the service through the Starship Deliveries app, and choose from one of three dining halls on campus. The delivery area is currently limited to a northern section of campus, but will be expanded to cover the entire campus in the coming weeks, the release shows. 

Ryan Tuohy, senior vice president of business development for Starship, says UW-Madison is the largest U.S. campus to launch the delivery service so far. The company’s robots have collectively traveled more than 350,000 miles, and made 150,000 deliveries. They’ve been tested in more than 100 cities around the world. 

By using sensors and machine learning algorithms, the robots can maneuver their environments, including obstacles such as street curbs and more. Per the release, the robots can cross streets, travel at night and move through the rain and snow. Their functions are largely automated but a team of human operators can take control of the robots at any time. 

See the announcement: http://www.housing.wisc.edu/2019/11/robot-delivery/ 

— The Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association is backing legislation aimed at expanding telehealth services in the state. 

The Assembly Committee on Medicaid Reform and Oversight last week unanimously approved the legislation. 

WPHCA represents Wisconsin’s 17 community health centers, which provide various services to more than 300,000 state residents each year. The group says the bill would “increase patient and provider utilization of telehealth services” for patients under Medicaid or BadgerCare. 

The organization claims the bill would increase access to care by reducing barriers related to transportation and mobility, especially for individuals living in rural areas. And WPHCA says it would help rural residents get access to mental health care and substance abuse services, as rural areas often face shortages in these specialties. 

According to the Legislative Reference Bureau, the bill would direct the Department of Health Services to provide reimbursement under the state’s Medical Assistance program for any benefit covered and delivered under that program that’s provided through “interactive telehealth.” 

The bill was introduced by Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, and Sen. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield. The legislation has bipartisan support. 

See the release: http://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/191101-WPHCA.pdf 

See the bill text: http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/related/proposals/ab410 

— Madison-based Invenra has extended its collaboration with California-based biotech company Exelixis. 

According to a release, Exelixis, which focuses on cancer treatment, will continue to use Invenra’s antibody discovery capabilities to generate additional biologics-based programs. The partnership began in May 2018. 

“The expanded collaboration speaks to the strength and early success of the initial collaboration between Exelixis and Invenra,” Invenra Vice President of Research and Development Bonnie Hammer said in a statement. “Both teams have demonstrated the desire to generate best-in-class therapeutics, and this expanded collaboration enables us to continue generating novel candidates for the Exelixis pipeline.”

Financials terms were not disclosed.

Invenra specializes in the discovery and development of multispecific antibodies for immuno-oncology.

See more at Madison Startups: http://www.madisonstartups.com/invenra-exelixis-extend-collaboration/ 


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– WiRED planning single-family housing development on Silver Spring Drive in Whitefish Bay

– Milwaukee company starts work on 240-slip drystack marina in Florida 



– UW-Madison: Average graduation time for 2018-2019 class less than 4 years



– DNR: Hunters Killed Slightly Fewer Bears In 2019


– As salt prices climb, Wisconsin looks to brine for a cheaper, better solution



– Emergency department doctors are often first point of contact for gunshot victims



– Former Enerpac division renamed CentroMotion after One Rock completes acquisition


– DNC Host Committee schedules first of three summits at Northwestern Mutual


– Fitzgerald asks Evers to pull Pfaff’s nomination as ag secretary


– Wisconsin GOP targets ag secretary in latest spat with Evers



– Voces de la Frontera launches $1.6 million campaign for new headquarters

– Jeffers plans to convert Journal Sentinel building into housing, retail space


– Vote on ATCP 51 livestock rule changes put on hold



– UW-Madison uses robots to deliver food to students


– Startup Milwaukee Week adds events the week before, will focus more on venture capital, diversity



– Allegiant, Volaris drop flights from Mitchell International


– Jim Paine: Prevailing wage protects taxpayers and workers



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