TUE AM News: Disaster response tech seeks funding to reach potential; UW-Madison’s financial situation puts its ‘back up against the wall’

— Wisconsin startup Safepro Technologies wants funding to bring its laser evacuation guide technology to schools and businesses to save lives during an active shooter, fire or other disaster emergency. 

The sensor’s message goes to a ceiling-mounted laser projector, which projects green arrows (safe) or red Xs (danger) on hallway walls to guide people toward the safest route away from the threat. In turn, it guides first responders to the threat to handle the situation. 

Law enforcement veteran and Safepro founder Paul Eckert explained that this system essentially thinks for victims in real-time because the human brain does not think correctly in such a dramatic event. In a stressful environment, even law enforcement struggle with making the best, life-saving decisions, he said, reflecting on his active shooter response coaching.

“We can’t get to the facility fast enough where a bad incident occurs. We only have this window of one to 10 minutes that we have to get better at separation and stop the killing,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that we even really need to talk about this. But it’s where we live in the world today.”

Eckert said active shooter response was his calling. He has more than 20 years of experience under his belt in law enforcement and public safety. Throughout his career, he’s been a part of several specialty units and has instructed in several areas including active shooter response. 

Read the full story at WisBusiness.com: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2021/disaster-response-tech-seeks-funding-to-reach-potential/ 

— UW-Madison had a $320 million budget impact in the past year due to lower revenues from tuition, research funding and self-financing units, such as athletics, according to a Wisconsin Policy Forum report. 

This has put the university’s “back up against the wall” financially, according to Mike Knetter, president and CEO of the UW Foundation.

Knetter moderated a discussion yesterday put on by Badgers United, a group of Wisconsin residents who advocate for UW-Madison. The virtual panel of UW leaders discussed the impact of declining state support for the university, a decade-long tuition freeze, the impact of COVID-19 and the restricted financial flexibility of UW-Madison. 

According to Peter Kies, managing director at Robert W. Baird and Co., the level of financial support from the state for UW-Madison’s budget has diminished to one-third of what it had been in 1976. Now the budget is funded twice as much by donors and alumni than the state, added Mike Shannon, UW Foundation chair.

“We’ve been talking about these issues for a long time,” said Aurora Healthcare Chief Legal Officer Mike Grebe. “They have been raised and not addressed completely for many, many years.”

Grebe, also the vice president of the Board of Regents, claimed that UW-Madison needs more autonomy and independence. Permission to engage in bonding and setting tuition, which most other flagship universities are allowed to do, are two ways UW-Madison can increase funding, he said. If changes aren’t made, UW-Madison will continue to be hamstrung financially for the foreseeable future, he warned.

UW-Madison alumni from across the state need to be proactive in talking with their representatives and people who don’t see the impact that UW-Madison has in their everyday lives, argued former UW-System President Katharine Lyall and Generation Growth Capital founder Cory Nettles.

“Legislators expect to hear people like [us] advocate for the university,” Lyall said. “They need to hear from other constituencies as well … The more legislators realize the reach of our alumni, I think the more effective it will be.”

— The Wisconsin Startup Coalition’s 2021 policy recommendations emphasize that investment in the state’s innovation ecosystem will accelerate the economic recovery from the pandemic. 

WSC, which was formed during the COVID-19 pandemic, aims to support the state’s startup founders and the innovation ecosystem. Over the last six months, the advocacy organization has gained the support of nearly 50 startups, funds and other organizations focused on doubling the number of startups receiving their first rounds of funding in Wisconsin over the next five years. 

Its policy recommendations include enhancing the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.’s Qualified New Business Venture Program by reducing barriers for early-stage companies to participate and increasing or targeting the 25 percent early-stage investment tax credit to certain industries. WSC also calls for using the venture program money to create a pilot program that awards startups cash for expenses following successful funding through the program. 

Additionally, WSC wants to see state support of investment, such as: creating a state-backed venture capital fund to invest in Wisconsin early-stage companies; accelerating investment in building the tech workforce through the Department of Workforce Development; and investing in computer science education in K-12 schools with the Code.org platform through the Department of Public Instruction. 

“Startups are the leading creator of net new jobs and economic growth,” said WSC co-founder Matt Cordio. “Investing in Wisconsin’s Innovation Ecosystem will accelerate the state’s recovery from the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

— WEDC plans to award about $200,000 in matching grants to groups working to boost entrepreneurship opportunities for minority communities.

The competitive awards are the second phase of WEDC’s 2021 Entrepreneurship Support Grants. They are the first awards of this type designed specifically for groups helping to create and grow diversely owned businesses in Wisconsin.

“We know the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a huge toll on communities of color and that women in particular were forced out of the workforce by this crisis,” said Missy Hughes, WEDC secretary and CEO. “These grants are targeting the programs that can help people of color, women, veterans and LGBTQ community members move forward in the economy as entrepreneurs.”

WEDC said it will announce the winners of the first round of 2021 Entrepreneurship Support Grants soon. The agency expects to award more than $500,000 to organizations serving more than 800 entrepreneurs of all backgrounds.

Apply for the second round by March 8: https://wedc.org/programs-and-resources/entrepreneurship-support-program/ 

— The application deadline for the March 17 virtual Tech Summit has been extended through noon, Feb. 17.

The Tech Summit will feature a series of brief meetings, or “speed dates,” to foster communication and partnership between large and small companies. 

“Large and small companies travel in different orbits, even if they’re in the same business sectors, and those orbits rarely cross except by chance,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “This event aims to align those orbits where possible.”

See more information on the day-long event produced by the Tech Council and the Wisconsin Healthcare Business Forum: https://wisconsintechnologycouncil.com/wisconsin-tech-summit 

— Public Health Madison & Dane County issued an emergency order loosening restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings and updating face covering requirements, among other changes.

The new order goes into effect Wednesday.

Changes in the new order include raising capacity limits to 25 for indoor gatherings with food or drink and 50 for indoor gatherings without, and outdoor capacity to 100 people with refreshments and 150 without. Social distancing is required. Masks are required for outdoor gatherings greater than 50 people. 

Face coverings are required outdoors while participating in a sporting event, including practices, unless the sport is individual or played with physical distancing. Games and competitions are allowed for all sports with capacity requirements.

PHMDC lifted the provision limiting regulated child care and four year old kindergarten groups to 15. Indoor youth settings must follow gathering limits. And temporary retail stores are able to operate under the same requirements as permanent retail stores.

“This order loosens restrictions on important parts of daily life, and I am hopeful that we are able to continue on this path as we move into spring,” said PHMDC Director Janel Heinrich. “As we cautiously adjust our orders in recognition of improving conditions, and as we vaccinate more people, we will continue to monitor where we stand. As we saw in the fall, things can change quickly and we all need to do our part to prevent disease spread.

— The move also comes after the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty had challenged the sports restrictions  in a lawsuit filed in January.

“The Dane County Health Department’s restrictions on sports were unreasonable and unnecessary. WILL’s lawsuit challenged these provisions, and we are pleased to see them relaxed,” said WILL Deputy Counsel Luke Berg. “The lawsuit continues, however, because the Health Department continues to issue and enforce orders without any County Board oversight, contrary to state law and the Wisconsin Constitution.”

Provisions that remain unchanged in Dane County are that face coverings are required in enclosed buildings, while driving with people not in one’s household, and while outdoors at a restaurant or tavern.

Businesses continue to be limited to 50 percent of approved building capacity and indoor seating at taverns is not allowed.

Provisions for schools, continuing education and higher education institutions, industry-specific requirements, health care, public health, human service, infrastructure, manufacturing, government, and religious entities and groups also remain unchanged.

See the order: https://publichealthmdc.com/documents/2021-02-08_Order_13.pdf 

The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce is hosting PHMDC officials Thursday during a virtual lunch briefing. Register: https://members.madisonbiz.com/events/details/lunch-up-date-with-public-health-21248 

— Wisconsin’s first community-based vaccination clinic is set to open in Rock County on Feb. 16.

The announcement comes as the state has dramatically improved vaccination rates.

Gov. Tony Evers and the Department of Health Services announced a new partnership with AMI Expeditionary Healthcare, which will help expand vaccine accessibility statewide by operating the community clinics.

DHS selected Rock County as the first clinic based on local health needs. The agency will add up to 10 additional community-based vaccination sites statewide as needed and as the vaccine supply allows.

Virginia-based AMI will work with the Wisconsin National Guard, Wisconsin Emergency Management, and local public health partners in the effort. The site will start with the ability to vaccinate up to 250 people daily. If Wisconsin’s vaccine allocations increase, the community-based clinic’s goal is to provide up to 1,000 vaccinations per day.

“The COVID-19 vaccine is not just safe and effective — it also provides us with an opportunity to protect those in our state who are most vulnerable,” said DHS Interim Secretary Karen Timberlake. “The best way to ensure every Wisconsinite has the opportunity to get protected against COVID-19 is to make the vaccine as accessible as possible. Our partnership with AMI and our community-based vaccination sites will allow us to achieve that.”

See the release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2021/gov-evers-dept-of-health-services-announces-first-community-based-vaccination-clinic-in-rock-county-to-open-february-16/ 

See more about AMI: https://ami.health/about-us/ 

— More than 767,000 Wisconsinites — or more than 13 percent of the state’s population — have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, DHS says.

CDC numbers are about the same and rank Wisconsin No. 15 among states for vaccines distributed per 100,000 residents. And The Associated Press’ ranking of states for the percentage of people who have received at least one dose had Wisconsin 10th.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg ranks Wisconsin No. 6 for the percent of supply used — 82.2 percent. That’s above the national average of 70.9 percent.

Nearly 34 percent of Wisconsinites ages 65 and older have been vaccinated. The group accounts for about 700,000 people of the roughly 5.8 million who live in the state.

And over 165,000 people have completed the two-dose vaccine series.

<i>For more of the most relevant news on the coronavirus outbreak, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin and links to top stories, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from WisPolitics.com and WisBusiness.com.

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– Meat Sector Shows Cautious Optimism https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2021/02/08/meat-sector-shows-cautious-optimism/ 

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– Venture capital fund founder John Miller named to UW Board of Regents https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/02/08/uw-board-of-regents-names-john-miller.html 


– Husco’s new facemask line goes live on Amazon, future includes PPE https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/02/08/huscos-new-facemask-line-goes-live-on-amazon.html 

– Covid-19 hospitalizations plummeting in Wisconsin, but hospital association urges caution https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/02/08/covid-19-hospitalizations-plummeting-in-state.html 


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– Strict Adherence To Safety Protocols Key As Milwaukee Teams Prepare To Welcome Back Fans https://www.wpr.org/strict-adherence-safety-protocols-key-milwaukee-teams-prepare-welcome-back-fans 


– Marcus Theatres may assist with vaccine distribution https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/02/08/marcus-theatres-may-assist-with-vaccine-distributi.html 


<i>See these and other press releases: 

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