TUE AM News: LÜM partners with Grammy-winning artist Ne-Yo, secures $3M in funding round; State’s potato crop in great shape

— Madison-based tech startup LÜM announced a partnership with Grammy-winning R&B and hip-hop artist Ne-Yo as its global ambassador after securing $3 million in a second seed funding round. 

LÜM, a music streaming service and social network enabling emerging artists to circulate their music and grow their fan base, closed the second seed round of funding after rapid growth in its first year. 

“By being able to bring on Ne-Yo at such a crucial time while LÜM is still in our infancy… is so helpful for us,” said Max Fergus, co-founder and CEO of LÜM. “He is a champion in a new business model that effectively can be the future for independent artists at the earliest stages of their career. To get the opportunity to work with Ne-Yo and Compound Entertainment is exciting for our team and our community.”

LÜM was founded from a UW-Madison think tank that focused on rapidly expanding industries with antiquated business models. Fergus, along with a team of UW students and alumni, realized that with the advancements in streaming technology, current applications could be used to successfully bring music to the next generation of artists and fans. 

Six months after launching in July 2019, LÜM became the first-ever platform to allow for direct-to-artist virtual gifting on a western music streaming platform. The company’s digital in-app currency — the Note — has direct financial value equal to the average royalty payout per stream on alternative streaming platforms. 

From January to June of this year, over 21 million Notes were gifted to 13,000 emerging artists. 

Read the full story at WisBusiness.com: https://www.wisbusiness.com/?p=1454202 

— The Pressure Chamber pitch program featuring presentations by startups to a panel of investors before a business audience is returning for Forward Fest.

Pressure Chamber will take place virtually from 1:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m. on Friday, marking its seventh year. 

Finalists include Madison startups Cultured Decadence, Last Lock, Pyran, RehabPath and Talent Bandit. 

The winning company will also get a reserved spot in the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce’s startup meetings with top Silicon Valley investment firms in October.

Sponsors for the event include: Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, State of Wisconsin Investment Board, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., American Family Ventures, Baird Capital, 4490 Ventures, HealthX Ventures and Rock River Capital Partners. 

To register for the event, visit: https://madisonbiz.com/pressure-chamber/ 

For more on Forward Fest, visit: https://forwardfest.org/

— The week ending Aug. 9 was dry and mild, giving Wisconsin 6.1 suitable days for fieldwork, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. 

The weather conditions were ideal for haying and combining small grains. Cover crops were being planted on cleared fields. All hay conditions rated 78 percent good to excellent statewide, down 2 percentage points from last week.

Second cutting of alfalfa was reported as 97 percent complete, while third cutting of alfalfa was reported as 55 percent complete. Both cuttings are eight days ahead of last year and one day off of the average. 

Daytime highs barely made it into the 70s early in the week, but ramped up steadily, drying soils as the week went on. Scattered showers brought moisture to some areas on the weekend, but didn’t touch western Wisconsin, which needed rain according to the USDA report. 

There were a few reports that pasture growth had halted due to dry conditions. Pasture condition rated 68 percent good to excellent, down 3 percentage points from last week.

Corn was 93 percent silked, over three weeks ahead of last year and one week ahead of the five-year average; dough stage was 38 percent, 12 days ahead of last year and four days ahead of the average; condition rated 81 percent good to excellent, unchanging from last week.

Soybeans blooming was 94 percent, over four weeks ahead of last year and nine days ahead of the average. Seventy-three percent of soybeans had set pods, 16 days ahead of last year and three days ahead of the average, and conditions rated 83 percent good to excellent, the same as last week. 

Oats harvesting was 56 percent complete, nine days ahead of last year and four days ahead of the average; condition rated 82 percent good to excellent statewide, unchanging from last week.

Winter wheat harvesting for grain was 83 percent complete, eight days ahead of last year and one day ahead of the average. 

— Wisconsin’s potato crop appears to be in great shape with a condition rated 90 percent good to excellent statewide. 

However, Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association Executive Director Tamas Houlihan warns there’s a long way to go before potatoes are harvested this fall.  

“Our growers know all too well that you can’t count your potatoes until they are dug,” Houlihan told WisBusiness.com yesterday. “We’ve had a couple of very challenging harvest seasons the last two falls, and growers have learned that September and October weather can make or break their entire crop.”  

Potato harvesting is reported at 10 percent complete, four days ahead of last year, but five days behind the average.

And when potatoes are harvested, growers will deal with reductions in contract volume due to the shutdown of the foodservice industry. Houlihan specifically noted the McCain Foods processing plant, which makes frozen products such as French fries, hash browns and tater tots. 

“Most of those growers were cut by 25 percent compared to their 2019 volumes,” he said. “Some of that business is coming back, and McCain has contacted its growers in search of additional potatoes.”

That sector of the potato industry represents about 20 percent of overall production. Wisconsin is primarily a fresh stock (41 percent) and chip stock (28 percent) state. The remaining 11 percent is in certified seed potato production. Houlihan said those sectors are doing very well in spite of the pandemic.

“It’s quite a different story for the potato growers out West who are predominantly process growers,” he said. Washington is 90 percent processed potatoes, and Idaho and Oregon are heavily weighted to that sector as well. The shutdown of the foodservice sector hit those growers and processors very hard, with some having their contracts cut 100 percent.  

“Others had to cancel their seed orders, which left the western seed growers without a home for their valuable spuds,” Houlihan added. “The fear was that there would be a massive oversupply situation in the fall, and that could still happen, although the business is picking up rapidly, especially with tremendous increases in drive-through sales at fast-food restaurants.”

— Applications for the Wisconsin Farm Support Program are again open for farmers who have faced financial challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Tony Evers announced the program in May. It provided a total of $50 million in direct payments to support Wisconsin farmers who have been impacted by COVID-19. The first round of the program in June resulted in $41.6 million distributed to nearly 12,000 farmers in 71 Wisconsin counties. Some $8.4 million remains to be handed out to successful applicants.

Applications are open until Aug. 24.

Producers of any commodity are eligible to apply if they had gross income between $10,000 and $5 million in 2019, and they did not already receive a payment in the first round of the program.

Payments are expected to be issued by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue in mid-September. The specific amount producers will receive will be determined once the application period closes. 

To apply, visit: https://tap.revenue.wi.gov/farm.

— Wisconsin’s current death count is 998 deaths, adding one death to Waukesha County and subtracting one death from Dane County.

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (456), Racine (78), Kenosha (60), Waukesha (59), Brown (54), Dane (38), Rock (26), Walworth (23), Washington (22), Winnebago (18), Ozaukee (17), Grant (15), Waupaca (15), Outagamie (14), Marathon (9), Sheboygan (9), Clark (7), Fond du Lac (7), Dodge (5), Jefferson (5), St. Croix (5), Eau Claire (4), Forest (4) and Richland (4). 

Barron, Door, Marinette and Sauk counties report three deaths each. Adams, Buffalo, Calumet, Kewaunee, Monroe, Pierce, Polk, and Trempealeau counties report two deaths each.

Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Columbia, Green, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Langlade, Manitowoc, Marquette, Rusk, Taylor, Waushara and Wood counties report one death each.

People ages 70-79 and 80-89 with confirmed cases together account for over half of the state’s deaths at 259 and 263 deaths, respectively. The age groups had an increase of 14 and 16 deaths over the past seven days. 

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates: https://www.wispolitics.com/wisconsin-coronavirus-resources/ 

— Wisconsin reports 507 new COVID-19 cases after receiving a total of 8,167 tests, bringing the percentage of positive tests per total tests down to 6.2 from a weekend in the upper 8 percent range.

The seven-day average for percent positive tests is 6 percent, and the cumulative positive tests per total tests is 5.7 and rising, according to DHS’ figures. Health officials have stressed that below 5 percent is where the state needs to be.

The seven-day average of daily confirmed cases is 819, down from 832 late last week.

The new cases bring the cumulative case count to 61,061. DHS reports that 50,662 have recovered. Meanwhile, 1.6 percent of patients have died, and 8.2 percent have been hospitalized.

In seven days, individuals ages 20-29 accounted for 1,378 of new COVID-19 cases, now numbering 15,348 cumulatively or 25 percent of the state’s confirmed cases. This is followed by people ages 30-39 at 17 percent. 

Stats show 2 percent of the 20-29 age group and 4 percent of the 30-39 age group cases have been hospitalized. But each group accounts for under 1 percent of the state’s death toll at eight and 10 deaths, respectively. Neither age group experienced deaths in the past seven days. 

The southeastern part of the state accounts for 57 percent of Wisconsin’s total cases followed by northeast Wisconsin at 17 percent. The regions also account for 72 percent and 13 percent of the state’s COVID-19 deaths, respectively. 

DHS has tested 1,062,463 people, and has collected even more specimens as some people are tested multiple times. The Wisconsin National Guard teams have collected 348,114 specimens statewide at various testing locations. 

Click here for a full list of community testing locations: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/testing.htm 

See more on the Guard’s effort in the COVID-19 response in releases below. 

— Milwaukee-based Sift Healthcare announced $2.8 million in new funding and a three-year enterprise partnership with Madison-based State Collection Service. 

Sift, a data science company focused on improving collection strategies for healthcare payments, received over $1.8 million of the funding from Rock River Capital Partners and the Winnebago Seed Fund.

“We are honored to have committed investors who recognize the timely opportunity to innovate in the healthcare payments space,” said Justin Nicols, founder and CEO of Sift. “I am particularly proud that our investors are Wisconsin-based and committed to growing tech companies within our state.”

Sift will use the new funds to expand its data science and data engineering teams, to create the bandwidth required to meet the demand of growing sales, and to further develop its AI-based solutions for the revenue cycle.

State Collection Service is one the country’s leading healthcare receivables companies. It will deploy Sift’s AI-based solutions and analytics. 

“State has run rigorous tests with Sift, and the results we’ve seen have been significant. We’re excited to add the power of Sift’s data science and analytics to our tech stack,” said Tim Haag, president of State Collection Service. “State has a long history of bringing best-in-class technology to the receivables industry, and Sift’s solutions will help further this commitment to innovation.”

See more in releases below.


# Report: Big Ten to cancel football season; announcement expected Tuesday 


# Mask Violation Reporting Form Stirs Debate On Mandate Enforcement 


# Pick ‘n Save parent Kroger tests Apple Pay-enabled contactless payment technology 




– Fewer Wisconsin Farms Filed For Bankruptcy During the Height Of The Pandemic https://www.wpr.org/fewer-wisconsin-farms-filed-bankruptcy-during-height-pandemic 

– Wisconsin corn researcher says crop looks better up north https://brownfieldagnews.com/news/wisconsin-corn-researcher-says-crop-looks-better-up-north/ 

– Milk Donation Reimbursement Program Applications Available http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=853&yr=2020 

– USDA Announces Production Controls on Tart Cherries http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=854&yr=2020 

– Ag Groups Say Wisconsin Town’s Manure Hauling Ordinance is Unlawful https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2020/08/10/ag-groups-say-wisconsin-towns-manure-hauling-ordinance-is-unlawful/ 


– Banks braced as pandemic poses biggest test since financial crisis https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/08/10/banks-braced-as-pandemic-poses-biggest-test.html 


– Some Wisconsin Universities Require Students, Staff To Sign COVID-19 Pledges https://www.wpr.org/some-wisconsin-universities-require-students-staff-sign-covid-19-pledges 


– Doctors know they missed cancer cases because routine screenings were canceled. Now, they’re playing catch-up. https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2020/08/10/cancer-screenings-available-again-but-how-many-cases-were-missed/5532174002/


– UWM Research Foundation developing $400,000 fund for startups https://biztimes.com/uwm-research-foundation-developing-400000-fund-for-startups/ 


– Wacker Neuson making 186 layoffs in Menomonee Falls permanent https://biztimes.com/wacker-neuson-making-186-layoffs-in-menomonee-falls-permanent/ 

– Strattec sees increased demand from automakers https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/08/10/strattec-sees-increased-automotive-demand.html 

– Briggs & Stratton’s largest unsecured creditor suggests reorganization over fast-track auction https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/08/10/briggs-largest-unsecured-creditor-suggests.html 

– Harley-Davidson staff not attending Sturgis, encourages socially distanced riding https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/08/10/harley-davidson-staff-does-not-attend-sturgis-but.html 


– Sens. Baldwin, Klobuchar Say Biden Will Strengthen American Manufacturing https://www.wpr.org/sens-baldwin-klobuchar-say-biden-will-strengthen-american-manufacturing 


– Distribution center built for German company in Pleasant Prairie sold for $54.6 million https://biztimes.com/distribution-center-built-for-german-company-in-pleasant-prairie-sold-for-54-6-million/ 


– DNR tells employees to wear masks during Zoom calls, even when they are alone at home https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2020/08/10/dnr-tells-staff-wear-masks-zoom-calls-even-when-they-home/3335232001/


– Amazon in talks with Simon Property Group about taking department store space: Report https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/08/10/amazon-in-talks-with-simon-about-store-space.html 


– Startups braced for the worst. The worst never came. https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/08/10/startups-coronavirus-covid19-economy.html 


– Big Ten reportedly planning to cancel 2020 football season, greatly impacting UW revenue https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/08/10/big-ten-reportedly-planning-to-cancel-football-202.html 


– Milwaukee software firm being shut down by South Carolina parent company https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/08/10/milwaukee-software-firm-being-shutdown-by-parent.html 


– Marcus Corp. makes additional layoffs in Wisconsin https://biztimes.com/marcus-corp-makes-additional-layoffs-in-wisconsin/ 

– City of Milwaukee spent another $3.8M on DNC security for July https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/08/10/city-spends-on-dnc-security-for-july.html 

– Independent Music Venues Ask Federal Government For Assistance https://www.wpr.org/independent-music-venues-ask-federal-government-assistance 


<i>See these and other press releases: 

http://wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Content=82 </i>

– Sift Healthcare: Secures $2.8M in funding https://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/sift-healthcare-secures-2-8m-in-funding/ 

– Wisconsin National Guard: 10 August update: Continues statewide COVID-19 testing this week https://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/wisconsin-national-guard-10-august-update-continues-statewide-covid-19-testing-this-week/