WED AM News: Medical tech expert shares industry insights, trends; Health groups back adding vaping devices to smoke-free air law

— Tom Krummel, the co-director for Stanford University’s Biodesign program, says up-and-coming entrepreneurs should be looking for a problem to be solved, rather than the technology to solve it. 

“Technology-driven innovation inevitably becomes the hammer looking for the nail,” Krummel told He’s the keynote speaker for the upcoming WARF Innovation Day, an annual event highlighting cutting-edge research happening in the state. This year’s event will be held Nov. 5 at Monona Terrace in Madison. 

In his address, Krummel plans to discuss some trends in applied technology, drawing on his background as a surgeon, entrepreneur and educator. Over the past several decades, he’s seen a gradual shift in health tech innovation as the importance of the value proposition becomes more central. 

“I’ll contrast that to 10 years ago, where if something was 10 percent better at twice the cost, that was all green lights,” he said. “Now it’s clear that in med tech, health tech… if you can’t clearly enunciate the value proposition, you’re dead in the water.” 

He sees potential for innovation in the area of mobile technology — “these supercomputers we all carry around called smartphones.” From global positioning to leveraging new types of sensors in creative ways, Krummel views mobile-enabled technology as particularly compelling. 

Through numerous positions with groups like the Stanford University School of Medicine, the American Board of Surgery, the American College of Surgeons and others, Krummel has mentored more than 200 students, residents and post-docs during research training. 

He says the most exciting aspect of his field is working with the next generation of young researchers and entrepreneurs he says can often make key observations missed by the older generations. 

“That’s the fountain of youth,” he said. “That’s where the passion and commitment is, where the wellspring comes from.”

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— The American Heart Association and American Lung Association are backing bipartisan legislation that would incorporate e-cigarettes and other vaping devices in the state’s smoke-free air law. 

Dona Wininsky, of the American Lung Association, calls the law “a simple update that keeps up with the quickly-changing tobacco industry, which is working to addict a new generation of lifelong tobacco and nicotine users.” 

The bill is co-authored by: Reps. Jeffrey Mursau, R-Crivitz, and Debra Kolste, D-Janesville; and Sens. Andre Jacques, R-De Pere, and Fred Risser, D-Madison. 

Since Wisconsin’s smoke-free air law was signed a decade ago, the state has recorded a 16 percent decrease in adult smoking, and the youth smoking rate is now below 5 percent. But the bill’s authors note the youth e-cigarette rate increased 154 percent between 2014 and 2018. 

See the bill text: 

— WEDC Secretary & CEO Missy Hughes received plaudits from each member of a Senate panel hearing her nomination.

“The Legislature, I think, wants to see you succeed, because when you succeed, the state of Wisconsin succeeds,” said Sen. Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, during a Senate Economic Development, Commerce and Trade Committee meeting yesterday. 

But the former chief mission officer of the Organic Valley/CROPP co-op largely dodged a question from Sen. Pat Testin, R-Stevens Point, about a tax break Gov. Tony Evers tried to cap early in his tenure.

Dems have long considered the Walker-era manufacturing and agriculture tax credit to be a giveaway to the wealthy and large corporations, noting on several occasions that an outsized portion of the credit goes to taxpayers who make more than $250,000.

The guv in his budget targeted capping the credit to help pay for an income tax cut for middle-class families. Under the proposal, the credit would have only applied to manufacturers’ first $300,000 of income.

But the Republican-run Joint Finance Committee stripped the measure out of the budget early in deliberations. GOP lawmakers said capping the credit was a tax hike on job creators.

Former WEDC CEO Mark Hogan in April praised the tax credit as “one of the three or four things that are critical” to the state attracting and retaining talent.

But Hughes was far more reserved yesterday, saying that one of the “challenges” to the tax credit is understanding “the impact it’s having and how much benefit is it having.”

“So I think taking a moment to review, ‘Is there a way to understand what benefits it’s bringing to the state?’ and then again having a collective agreement that it is bringing a certain benefit or it’s not and finding an aspect of the tax credits that could help could help with the state,” she said.

— Dem lawmakers have introduced a paid family leave program bill that would affect all businesses in the state.

This is the third session Sen. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville, introduced the bill. She said she hasn’t yet heard talk of any bipartisan support for the measure.

“Hopefully support will grow as other states take it on,” Ringhand said yesterday during an Assembly Parlor news conference.

Wisconsin would be the ninth state with paid family leave legislation.

Spokesmen for Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.

The National Federation of Independent Business is the only group to lobby against the bill in both the 2015-16 and 2017-18 sessions. And State Director Bill Smith said his group plans to lobby against the bill again.

Smith told the bill would be too burdensome on small businesses. He said the loss of a single employee “for any reason” has a much greater impact in a small business than a large corporation.

“What allows the small business community to compete is the flexibility that they’re able to offer their workers,” Smith said.

See more at 

— Harley Davidson’s third quarter earnings were down 24 percent as the company deals with lower U.S. sales and ongoing tariffs from the European Union and China. 

A release shows the Milwaukee motorcycle manufacturer earned $86.6 million in the third quarter of 2019, compared to $113.9 million in Q3 2018. And third quarter revenue was $1.27 billion, compared to $1.32 billion in the same period last year. 

The company is reporting $21.6 million in tariffs on its domestically produced motorcycles that were exported. Still, international sales were up 2.7 percent in the third quarter, reflecting efforts to reach new markets including parts of Asia. 

This marks the third quarter in a row that Harley has reported an earnings drop of more than 20 percent. 

It was around this time last year that President Trump said it would be “great” if customers boycott the company for moving manufacturing operations overseas. In a recent conference call, CEO Matt Levatich said the company expects to start producing bikes in Thailand later this month for European markets, to sidestep the 31 percent tax levied by the EU on U.S.-made motorcycles. 

See the release: 

See more in Top Stories below. 

— Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce has promoted Scott Manley, the organization’s lead lobbyist, to executive vice president of government relations. 

Manley first joined WMC in 2005 and has been a senior vice president since 2015. Before that, he spent more than a decade working in the state Legislature. 

See the release: 


# Harley-Davidson gears up motorcycle production in Thailand; quarterly earnings fall

# MMAC president says failed Strauss Brands deal kills momentum for Century City

# I want my *%$#@ TV! Madison area viewers left with blank screens during frequency switch

# Crop Report: Frustrations Rise Amid Harvest Delays



– NVISIA moves Milwaukee Tech Showcase to Fiserv Forum, lands sponsorships from Google, AWS


– State milk production rebounds after recent drops


– With EU tariffs addressed, Harley-Davidson is now dealing with Trump’s China tariffs


– Gateway Technical College unveils $11.5 million iMET Center expansion


– Governor’s climate change task force to include farmers


– Wisconsin Democrats reintroduce family medical leave insurance act


– Olaf Harken, co-founder of sailing equipment maker, dies at 80

– Harley-Davidson sales down in Q3 for another consecutive quarter

– Harley-Davidson’s Quarterly Earnings Continue To Fall


– DNC Host Committee expects diversity data from all bidders for services contracts

– Fitzgerald: No state Senate hearings or debate on Evers’ gun proposals

– Bill to revive policy for energy-efficiency projects at schools


– $80.5 million apartment and condo towers proposed for downtown Kenosha

– Wisconsin home sales climb in September after summer slide


– Pleasant Prairie shopping center sold for $10.8 million


– Bucks say fans can expect shorter lines, better cupholders at Fiserv Forum this season

– Bucks unveil new Clover payment devices, custom cupholders and private event suite at Fiserv Forum: Slideshow


– Senate committee taking up bill to create strict penalties on trespassing to damage pipelines


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

Health groups: Support bill that includes e-cigarettes in Wisconsin’s clean indoor air law

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce: Scott Manley promoted to executive vice president

Dept. of Workforce Development: Wisconsin Business Closing and Mass Layoff Notice (WARN): Silgan Containers