— Venture Varsity Studio’s first startup launch — a company called Transfur — will offer a software platform for veterinarians underpinned by AI.
Transfur says its software service makes it easier for vets to “request, send, manage and review” medical records, reducing the time they spend on non-billable activities. The company was founded after its initial concept beat out nearly 150 other submissions sent to Varsity Venture Studio by students, faculty and staff at UW-Madison.
The collaborative venture studio represents a partnership between UW-Madison, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and High Alpha Innovation, a corporate venture entity headquartered in Indianapolis. After calling for startup ideas from the UW-Madison campus in fall 2020, the organization narrowed down the initial submission pool to the top four ideas before deciding to go with Transfur.
The concept for the business came from Annie and Ali Pankowsi, who grew up around their family’s veterinary practice and are now doctor of veterinary medicine students at UW-Madison and University of California, Davis. High Alpha Innovation CEO Elliott Parker says their “clinical expertise and real-world experience” provides the basis for the new company.
A release from Varsity Venture Studio points to “an unexpected strain” on veterinary practices during the pandemic due to higher demand for animal care services. The organization says Transfur will help vets “be more efficient and more effectively utilize their staff” while improving interoperability within the industry.
“Transfur leverages technologies like artificial intelligence to harmonize the veterinary referral management process,” said Ben Roess, who handles marketing for High Alpha Innovation. “Simply put, this product will disrupt the way that the vet industry runs.”
Varsity Venture Studio is now accepting ideas from the UW-Madison campus for its fall semester program, according to its website.
See more on the company here: https://www.transfur.vet/
— A Milwaukee-based tech startup called MediCardia Health Inc. has closed on a $3 million funding round after being founded last year.
The business has a digital health platform for organizing and coordinating an array of clinical data for care providers, and it aims to create “provider-centric tools for patient-centric care,” a release shows. Its technology is meant to supplement disease prevention and treatment with a focus on cardiology.
Funds raised will be used to “significantly ramp up” development of the platform, including telehealth, remote monitoring of patients, natural language processing of patient data, and automation of medical charts. The company also plans to launch new features soon including support for medical implants, imaging, a research platform and more.
Investors in the $3 million round include Milwaukee Venture Partners and Northwestern Mutual Cream City Venture Capital, as well as other angel investors in Wisconsin, elsewhere in the United States, and in Japan. It was initially funded by CEO and founder Dr. Indrajit Choudhuri and others, and later received seed funding from local angel investor Jeff Rusinow, who’s now the company’s chairman.
Craig Schedler, managing director of the Northwestern Mutual venture capital firm, says MediCardia has “remarkable vision for the future and the opportunity to drive digital transformation” in the health care industry.
“We are excited to be investing in a local Milwaukee startup focused on digital health,” Schedler said in the release.
— The Department of Health Services is backing the recommendation that certain groups receive a booster shot of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.
DHS had previously backed the CDC recommendation that certain high-risk groups get a Pfizer booster shot in late September. The latest move comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently approved the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters.
In a release, DHS says it supports the CDC’s recommendation that certain populations with increased risk of exposure to or transmission of the virus should get a booster dose of the Moderna vaccine at least six months after their second dose. And the agency is backing the recommendation that adults who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine receive a booster dose at least two months after their primary vaccine dose.
DHS Secretary Karen Timberlake is asking eligible state residents to “be patient as it may take time for everyone who needs a booster dose to get one.”
Meanwhile, DHS says it “continues to await publication” of the CDC’s clinical guidance for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster doses. The agency says once those are released, vaccinators in the state will be able to start providing the booster shots and “ensure they are following the safest protocols.”
Populations authorized to receive the Moderna booster include those 65 and older, long-term care residents, people aged 18 and older with various underlying medical conditions, and people aged 18 and older that are at risk of exposure or transmission due to their work such as health care providers and other essential workers.
See the DHS release: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/news/releases/102221.htm
— UW Health is facing a serious nursing workforce shortage despite boasting better-than-average first-year retention and turnover rates for nurses.
The health system currently has more than 3,400 nurses staffed and has hired about 300 nurses over the past two years, according to a release. But UW Health says it still has around 300 nursing openings, and national projections from the American Nursing Association indicate nearly half a million nurses around the country are expected to retire by next year.
Rudy Jackson, senior vice president and chief nurse executive for UW Health, says “these staff shortages present what is likely to be a long-term challenge.” He notes the pandemic has led to higher patient volumes and stress for health systems but says the organization is trying to address the shortage in several ways.
The system’s continuing education program has provided about $600,000 in tuition reimbursements for nursing employees between September 2020 and September 2021, and two nurse residency programs have been training incoming workers in ambulatory and inpatient care. The ambulatory program started earlier this year while the inpatient program began in 2004.
UW Health says its first-year retention rate for nurses has been 97 percent since 2004, while the national average for other hospitals with nurse residency programs is 91 percent. That number is 71 percent for hospitals without nurse residency programs, the release shows.
The health system also says its overall nurse turnover rate is 10 percent, compared to the national average of 17 percent.
— Federal labor data newly released by the state Department of Workforce Development shows job openings and new hires in the state declined between July and August.
At the same time, the number of workers quitting in Wisconsin increased from about 77,000 to 97,000, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey data.
The JOLTS report found job openings in the state fell from approximately 230,000 in July to 214,000 in August. Meanwhile, the number of hires in the state decreased from 127,000 to 105,000, the report shows.
DWD notes this data has been made available at the state level for the first time.
See the release: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/press/211022-bls-data.htm
See the data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/jltst.nr0.htm
— Attorney General Josh Kaul has signed onto a petition with 23 other state AGs calling on the FDA to enact higher regulatory standards on foods for infants and young children.
A release from the state Department of Justice cites a report from the U.S. House’s Oversight and Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy that found “high levels of toxic heavy metals” including lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury in baby foods sold by multiple U.S. companies.
“Urgent action must be taken to get dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals out of baby food,” Kaul said in the release. “We are calling on the FDA to act as soon as possible to keep children safe.”
The petition asks FDA officials to propose “science-based, achievability-focused interim limits” on various toxic heavy metals in certain categories of baby foods, as well as a lower limit for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal. The AGs are also urging the FDA to direct baby food manufacturers to test their products for toxic heavy metals.
The FDA is being asked to take these and other actions by April 18, 2022.
# Pharma company could create 250 jobs in Dane County with $250M facility
# All Wisconsin calls will require dialing the area code
# The wages of competition: Manufacturers search for answers to fill openings in times of Covid
– Cropp: Dairy prices could hit $18-19 cwt. by late 2021
– Red Caboose, Movin’ Out break ground on apartment building
– Discovery Farms Conference slated for December
– DNR confirms EHD disease in Juneau County deer
# FOOD AND BEVERAGE
– Barriques on Atwood Avenue to close, never bounced back from pandemic
# HEALTH CARE
– Froedtert Health paid nearly $30M for Manitowoc’s Holy Family
– MediCardia of Mequon raises $3M from angel investors, including Northwestern Mutual Cream City fund
– Judge issues injunction blocking Wisconsin fall wolf hunt
– The wages of competition: Manufacturers search for answers to fill openings in times of Covid
– Mayors from 4 Wisconsin cities urge Congress to pass Biden social safety net plan, emphasizing child care
# REAL ESTATE
– Johnson Financial’s historic downtown building sold, search underway for new user
– Developments in the works would bring 152 single-family lots to Muskego
– Wisconsin Science Festival returns, offering more than 100 free activities
– What to expect for MKE Tech Week 2021
– Sued by Wisconsin and fresh off bankruptcy, Frontier Communications asks state for $35M
# PRESS RELEASES
<i>See these and other press releases: