TUE AM News: TECNA Summer Conference to highlight tech industry issues in Madison; Workers comp premiums to fall nearly 9 percent in October

— A three-day conference in Madison this week will highlight the most impactful trends and policy challenges facing tech companies. 

That’s according to Doug Robertson, chairman of the board of directors for the Technology Councils of North America. The 2019 TECNA Summer Conference is being hosted by the Wisconsin Technology Council today through Thursday. 

“This will be an opportunity to hear first-hand from people who are immersed in the dynamic industry that is tech,” Robertson told WisBusiness.com. “We’re going to talk about initiatives that we’re delivering to help our companies grow. … We learn from each other at conferences like this.” 

Aside from his board position with TECNA, he’s also the president and CEO at Venn Innovation, which is active in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. He explains that in Canada, all the TECNA groups are not-for-profit, and generally have a higher level of government funding than their U.S. counterparts. 

But while approaches to funding and economic development vary, he says “we’re all in it for the same goal — to help tech companies grow.” 

At TECNA’s recent CEO meeting, Robertson said various leaders were having productive conversations about increasing diversity and inclusion in the workforce.

“It’s not just more women, which is of fundamental importance, but it’s the larger diversity thrust we have to embrace,” he said. 

See more: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2019/tecna-summer-conference-to-highlight-tech-industry-issues-in-madison/ 

— Employers in the state will see an 8.84 percent decrease in worker’s comp premiums starting in October, according to the state Department of Workforce Development. 

Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance approved the rate decrease, marking the fourth year in a row that worker’s compensation rates have gone down. That’s after a 6.03 percent decrease last year, an 8.46 percent decrease in 2017, and a 3.19 percent decrease in 2016. 

DWD estimates the latest rate drop will save employers in the state about $173 million annually. 

Each year, the Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau submits a rate adjustment recommendation to OCI, which has the final say on any changes. 

“The frequency of workplace injuries has been trending downward, which is a major driver of the rate reductions,” Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance Mark Afable said. 

See more: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/newsreleases/2019/190722_decrease_wc_premiums.htm 

— SHINE Medical Technologies has filed an application with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to begin production at its new Janesville production facility. 

SHINE broke ground in May for the facility, where the company plans to produce molybdenum-99 and other isotopes used in millions of medical imaging procedures every year. 

According to a release from the Janesville company, only four “major facilities” around the world produce Mo-99, and frequent global shortages of the material impact patient care in a number of ways. The United States uses about half of the world’s supply of the material, but currently produces none of it. Greg Piefer, the company’s founder and CEO, wants to change that. 

“SHINE’s fusion-fission technology enables us to produce Mo-99 more safely, cleanly and efficiently than conventional reactor-based technologies,” Piefer said. 

He says SHINE is on track to help offset those shortages. Once the facility is online, he expects it will be able to satisfy one-third of global demand for Mo-99. 

See the release: http://www.wisbusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/190722SHINENRC.pdf 

— The DNR is asking municipal wastewater treatment facilities to sample their discharges for PFAS as part of a new voluntary testing program. 

The per- and poly-fluorinated compounds, which are present in items such as non-stick cookware and firefighting foam, have been found in drinking water around Wisconsin. The state Department of Health last month recommended one of the nation’s most restrictive standards for drinking water. 

The Department of Natural Resources said it’s asking 125 municipal wastewater treatment facilities to begin sampling and analyzing water for the compounds. 

See more: http://dnr.wi.gov/news/releases/article/?id=4794 

— U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore is introducing bipartisan legislation that would mandate testing for lead poisoning for young children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. 

Moore is introducing the Preventing Lead Poisoning Act alongside U.S. Rep. John Katko, a Republican from New York. 

According to a release from Moore’s office, Medicaid currently relies on guidance that children between certain ages should receive a lead screening test, rather than the requirement being law. 

“Lead poisoning has impacted children across the country, including in my district,” Moore said, emphasizing the long term health threat it poses to affected kids. 

Her release shows 5 percent of children under age 6 who were tested in the state in 2016 had lead in their blood above the level at which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a public health response. And in Milwaukee, 11 percent of the 23,000 children tested had elevated blood lead levels.

See the release: http://www.wispolitics.com/2019/u-s-rep-moore-introduces-bipartisan-legislation-to-help-ensure-lead-screening-for-children/ 

— UW-Madison’s Badgerloop team was unable to test its high-speed transport device in this year’s SpaceX Hyperloop Competition after encountering some last-minute technical issues, according to recent blog post from student engineers. 

The hyperloop is a proposed mode of transportation that, in theory, could transport people and goods at high speeds by launching them in a contained pod through a sealed tunnel with very low air pressure. 

SpaceX first announced the competition in 2015, calling for design teams around the country to construct pod designs with a goal of creating the fastest pod. The fourth iteration of the competition was held over the weekend, but the Badgerloop team wasn’t able to fully compete. 

The blog post shows the team’s software and controls units were preparing to show their system to SpaceX advisors when they ran into a problem with the air compressor used to fill the pod’s braking tanks. The team worked quickly to fix the issue and get updated diagrams approved, but “in the end we simply ran out of time to have the SpaceX Advisors approve it.” 

While this outcome was disappointing to the team, they wrote that “we now know exactly what we need to fix in order to be successful next year.” 

Other teams were able to test their pods this year at the straight test track at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., which is less than a mile long. A German team called TUM Hyperloop set a new speed record this year of 288 miles per hour. 

Next year’s competition will have teams test their designs in a curved tunnel that’s over 6 miles long, according to a recent tweet from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. 

See the latest blog post from the Badgerloop team: http://badgerloop.com/news-posts/hyperloop-compiv.html 


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