MON AM News: Creative Destruction Lab including students in accelerator process; Talking Trade with Tom Lochner of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association

— The Creative Destruction Lab accelerator program is giving UW-Madison students a chance to join in the process of helping companies grow. 

The program works with seed-stage science and technology companies to help them “accelerate massively,” according to Shabaka Gibson, director of CDL-Wisconsin. The nonprofit organization has 10 sites around the world, with one of the three U.S.-based locations in Madison. 

“There’s not a lack of good ideas out there in the world, there’s not a lack of effort, and oddly enough, there’s not a lack of money either,” he said last week during a discussion held at the university as part of the Entrepreneurons event series. “When you take a look at where massive growth takes place, it tends to be on the coasts … The question is why?” 

He highlighted the more receptive environment in Silicon Valley and elsewhere in the country, where entrepreneurs with “a great idea” can more easily find support and guidance from established company founders. 

“They’ve got advice, they’ve done it before, and they’re willing to share how they did it. Well you can’t find that everywhere,” he said. “So what we try to do is recreate that market for judgment for companies around the world.” 

He said the Madison-based program also aims to boost Wisconsin’s economy by helping growth-oriented companies in the state flourish. Students from various disciplines can participate in that process through a year-long course at the university. 

Participating students get to sit in on meetings with companies while doing coursework focused on innovation and entrepreneurship. Gibson said students are able to assist companies in the program through internships, adding that some are offered jobs with these businesses at the end of the course. 

“The real value to the student is they get to see this market for judgment, they get to participate in it, and they get to take it with them when they move on after graduation into whatever position they decide to do,” he said. “And if they decide to become an entrepreneur, now they’ve got a competitive advantage against other folks as well.” 

See more details on the program here: 

— The latest episode of “Talking Trade” features Tom Lochner, executive director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association. 

Lochner chats with co-hosts Ian Coxhead and Sandi Siegel about this year’s crop, “supply chain chaos” and potential growth areas for exports. 

He explains that supply management efforts have helped eliminate a cranberry surplus in recent years, bringing prices up to a level that is “economically sustainable” for growers. 

“The trend’s in the right direction. We’ve increased sales actually during COVID, sales of juice were up dramatically,” he said. “The juice is shelf-stable, and most of our consumption is in-home rather than in restaurants or outside of home … So we saw that go up, which was a positive thing out of it.”

Growers in the state are eyeing new export markets including India and Middle Eastern destinations, Lochner said. He highlighted conversations with lawmakers about the “need to open up” new markets through free-trade agreements and elimination of various tariffs. 

He also pointed to agreements with Canada, Mexico and Japan as “very positive signs” for expanding exports. 

“We’d really like to see improvements with the EU, that’s a major market for us,” he said. “And we have industry people that are working on that.” 

This year’s cranberry harvest is underway and Lochner noted supply “will be a little short” this year, urging consumers to stock up on fresh fruit while they can. 

Listen to the discussion here: 

— The state is seeing fewer COVID-19 cases and related deaths during the recent surge than a year ago, but the head of the Wisconsin Hospital Association points to “greater challenges” this time around. 

In an interview Friday, WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding noted hospitals and health systems across the state are experiencing “sustained stress” from high patient volume due in part to providing care that was postponed earlier in the pandemic. He said hospitals were already “extremely busy” dealing with pent-up demand even before the latest surge began, and many are now nearing capacity for beds and intensive care units. 

The Wisconsin Hospital Association dashboard shows 1,162 people in the state are hospitalized with COVID-19, including 307 patients in the ICU. And the Department of Health Services site shows 90.2 percent of the state’s hospital beds and 93.8 percent of ICU beds were in use as of Tuesday, the latest day for which these numbers are available. More than half of hospitals in the state have ICUs at peak capacity, according to DHS.

Borgerding explained that a greater proportion of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 are being admitted to the ICU for higher-level acute care, contributing to the strain on resources. And patients being hospitalized due to the virus tend to be younger than in the previous surge.

“In Wisconsin, we’re seeing fewer people die from COVID-19, but at the same time, they’re in the hospital longer and taking longer to recover,” he told 

He pointed out the average case fatality rate in Wisconsin is about 35 percent lower than the national average, which he says demonstrates the high quality of care delivered in the state. 

Still, Borgerding said existing workforce challenges have gotten worse due to the pressures of the pandemic, particularly in the past few months. After the initial fall surge and operating in “crisis mode” for nearly a year straight, frontline health care workers in Wisconsin and across the country are feeling burned out. 

While many workers stuck it out through last fall and into this year, he said a number of them decided to retire or move into less stressful roles in the industry once the initial wave passed. Once it became clear that another surge was coming, he said even more workers decided to do the same. 

“Caring for someone with COVID-19 in the hospital is very resource-intensive, very emotionally intensive,” he said. “Some folks have said, ‘I love health care but I’m going to do something else in health care or retire’ … That has exacerbated what are some difficult workforce challenges.” 

Meanwhile, he said “a lot of folks” in the health care workforce are leaving full-time jobs at hospitals, clinics or nursing homes to take positions as traveling nurses or technicians through temporary staffing agencies. He described the situation as “a double-edged sword” as hospitals have more access to potential workers, but these traveling professionals are paid significantly more than typical employees. 

That places a greater expense on health care employers while also contributing to wage inflation across the board, he said. 

See the WHA dashboard here: 

— The Department of Health Services is relaunching a program that provides COVID-19 testing supplies and related support to various entities in the state. 

The Testing Pilot Program is being relaunched as the Community Testing Support Program, which will offer free testing materials, courier services and reimbursement for collecting test samples to qualified applicants. A DHS release shows the pilot program supported 750,000 tests performed at 70 locations. 

Recipients will include local or tribal health departments, licensed health care providers and other organizations providing testing services under oversight of a doctor or health officials. 

See the release: 

— A Madison biotech firm called Immuto Scientific has closed on a $2.3 million seed funding round as it builds on research conducted at UW-Madison. 

The company will use the funds to purchase more equipment and hire staff, a release shows. Immuto Scientific provides commercial analytical research services to accelerate the drug discovery process. Its technologies help drug development companies test potential therapeutics such as antibody therapies, and were developed through the university’s departments of Electrical Engineering and Biochemistry. 

“Recognizing the limitations posed by the standard analytical tools and determined to offer a superior alternative to drug makers, our team of leading scientists and researchers from UWMadison came together to found Immuto Scientific,” said CEO Faraz Choudhury. 

A number of investment groups in the state contributed to the round, which was led by Wisconsin Investment Partners. Other participants included Milwaukee Venture Partners, a Green Bay angel investment group called Tundra Angels, Golden Angels Investors of Brookfield, the BrightStar Foundation, Great Oaks Venture Capital – New York, and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. 

See the release:

Listen to a recent podcast with one of the co-managers of WIP: 

— Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program will have a new managing director later this month: Lisa Stefanik, who previously worked as the program’s marketing director from 2004 to 2011. 

Stefanik was also the energy policy advisor for the state’s Public Service Commission during that time. More recently, she worked as a technology industry consultant and yoga instructor, according to her Linkedin page. She will take over as managing director Oct. 26. 

“Energy policy and efficiency is a passion of mine, so I am thrilled to return to Focus on Energy,” she said in a release. “As a long-time Wisconsin resident, I have been so pleased to watch the program grow and help the state of Wisconsin reduce energy waste over its 20-year history.” 

Focus on Energy provides financial incentives to utilities for efforts to improve energy efficiency. 

See the release: 


# UW System says COVID-19 pandemic has had $720M impact on state colleges

# Researchers, UW educators see a bright future for AI in healthcare

# License to succeed: Milwaukee-area real estate industry looks to attract more minorities



– Bauer elected to Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board


– MWFPA career fair planned for December


– ‘We just need them to be here’: After 18 disrupted months of school, Wisconsin students work to catch up

– UW, Edgewood students bring queer college conference to Madison

– How is math involved in making cheese sticks? Wisconsin manufacturers made these videos to show kids the real-world value of their learning.


– Chippewa County’s meth cases have spiked in recent years. One organization is rallying the community to fight it.

– Hospitals brace for an onslaught this winter, from flu as well as COVID


– Wisconsin man pleads guilty to illegally transporting bear

– Woman accuses UW System of failing to stop harassment


– CG Schmidt names new president


– WoodgeniX doubling size of its facility


– Legislator using walker after COVID, says life is good

– Johnson: Hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients ‘doesn’t mean there’s some massive crisis’


– SARA Investment acquires Klement’s Sausage plant on Chase Avenue for $12.2 million

– Klement Sausage plant on Chase Avenue sold

– Buying 480-unit luxury Kenosha apartment complex, Illinois firm enters Wisconsin market: Slideshow


– Dual-concept Juana Taco, Makk’n’Cheese coming to East Side


– Saving the Mitchell Park Domes may require small steps toward a long-term fix


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

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