TUE AM News: innovative products, a pro-startup bill in Congress, and complaints from a GOP senator on UW funding

— Trevor Santarius has always consumed a variety of written material, from books to newsletters to online blogs and more. 

In his consumption of text-based media, Santarius imagined the excitement that could come from turning these writings into a more interactive tool. So Santarius took his brother-in-law — software engineer Luke Southard — under his wing to help him create BookScape. 

BookScape is a software-based product designed to bring a more immersive and visual aspect to reading. The product has both a mobile application and a browser-based version that takes an excerpt of text and turns it into an illustrative work of art. Once available for purchase, BookScape will be a recurring subscription-based software so users can easily create and store their illustrations online. 

BookScape was a finalist for the 2021 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest, which will wrap up at the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference June 2-3.

The software uses a library of three-dimensional models to build the visualized environment, using artificial intelligence to fill in information gaps. Users are then able to purchase that illustration in a physical hard copy or save it to their digital archive.

BookScape is targeting readers between the ages of 18 and 35 — groups adaptable to new digital technologies. 

BookScape will first aim promotional strategies toward parents of school-aged children between 6 and 19. 

“A student could input text from one of their history books and our software would give them an illustration that better helps them engage with and visualize that historical event,” Santarius said. 

Read the full story at WisBusiness.com: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2021/bookscape-brings-the-written-word-to-3d-life/ 

— Communication is critical in any healthy relationship, including the relationship between you and your body. 

Think about how your body talks with you. Does it need energy? If it does, your stomach will grumble, begging you for food. Did your body overexert itself during a workout? You’ll feel fatigued and have lasting muscle soreness, warning you to take it easier next time. 

Type 1 diabetics must be highly aware of their body’s signals to prevent catastrophic events. Steady Shot is a product designed to help people with diabetes check in with their bodies while maintaining their active lifestyles. 

Human bodies are typically efficient at extracting nutrients and transporting the energy source for cells to use. However, people with Type 1 diabetes can create the energy source — glucose — but cannot transport it into cells, leaving an individual deprived of essential nutrients.

This is equivalent to pumping a car’s gas pedal, but having a fuel-line clog prevents it from getting to the engine. The “clog” is formed because Type 1 diabetes patients lack the protein insulin, which helps facilitate glucose out of the bloodstream and into energy-deprived cells. 

Blood glucose levels vary throughout the day, so people with Type 1 diabetes must regularly check their body’s blood sugar levels and make appropriate adjustments. In addition, Type 1 diabetics are dependent on insulin injections to help regulate blood glucose levels.

Steady Shot founder and CEO Shawn Michels was a student attending UW-Madison when he recognized a problem with his own insulin injections. He designed a solution to help him and 7.4 million other insulin injectors safely rotate injections and be less prone to a specific side effect. 

Read the full story: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2021/steady-shot-aims-to-help-type-1-diabetics-with-their-injection-routines/ 

See more stories written by students in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication: https://www.wisbusiness.com/category/student-stories/

— State Sen. Steve Nass ripped the idea of ending the tuition freeze for the UW System that’s been in place for the past eight years, telling his GOP colleagues the university doesn’t need more money.

Nass, R-Whitewater, wrote to Republican lawmakers yesterday that the UW System has a flawed bidding process that leads to “waste, management and ethical concerns.” There are also faculty, staff and administrators “with a mission to silence conservative views on campus, mandate critical race theory in all facets of campus life and create more socialist justice warriors through indoctrination of students.”

Nass, a frequent UW critic, often has been vocal about his issues with the budget. He voted against the 2013-15 budget while in the state Assembly before supporting the document two years later after he joined the Senate. He only backed the 2017-19 budget after securing several veto assurances from then-Gov. Scott Walker and then opposed the spending plan in 2019.

His email comes ahead of the Joint Finance Committee voting Thursday on the UW System.

“The Republican legislative response is to potentially end the resident tuition freeze and to give the UW system more taxpayer dollars,” Nass wrote. “This makes sense — we need to throw more funding into a system with so many liberals working on destroying the American Dream.”

Dem Gov. Tony Evers had proposed extending the freeze on in-state undergrad tuition another two years in his version of the two-year spending plan. But the current freeze ends after the 2020-21 school year, and the committee’s move to amend the budget to current law means a new one would have to be added to extend the policy in place since 2013.

Multiple GOP sources have indicated Republicans are considering options such as ending the freeze, extending it and funding it with additional general purpose revenue, and simply extending the cap.

Evers wanted to give the system an additional $50.4 million to offset the impact of extending the freeze.

The offices of Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, and Joint Finance Co-chair Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, declined comment.

The UW System, now led by former GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson, has been calling for an end to the freeze.

“A mandated tuition freeze has run its course, as our universities have some of the most affordable tuition in the nation,” said System spokesman Mark Pitsch. “We believe the Board of Regents can manage tuition in a way that preserves affordability while protecting the quality of education students and families expect.”

Read Nass’ email: https://www.wispolitics.com/2021/140012/ 

— Dane County nonprofits can apply for $5 million in grants.

County Executive Joe Parisi announced yesterday that the county is partnering with the Madison Community Foundation to distribute the money. Organizations will need to demonstrate loss of income due to the pandemic to get a grant.

All Dane County nonprofits will be able to apply once a resolution allocating the funds to MCF is adopted by the Dane County Board. Information about how to apply will be available on MCF’s website once the fund is officially created.

See the release: https://exec.countyofdane.com/PressDetail/10851 

— U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville, has introduced a bill that would streamline reporting requirements for startups. 

Emerging Growth Companies can maintain their status as an EGC for up to five years after becoming a public company. But Steil notes that many of the companies are not generating enough revenue after those five years to support the compliance costs that come with the loss of that EGC status. 

The legislation — Helping Startups Continue to Grow Act — provides a five-year extension of certain exemptions and reduced disclosure requirements. The bill aims to help all startups, but especially companies in the medical and pharmaceutical fields. 

“We must give entrepreneurs the tools to recover and succeed following the pandemic. Reducing regulatory burdens is one step to help new companies create jobs and grow wages,” Steil said. “My bill allows startups to focus on supporting workers, expanding their company, and developing the best products in the world, rather than dealing with regulations and compliance costs.”

— More than 5.02 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Wisconsin. 

Nearly 41 percent of Wisconsin residents are fully protected from COVID-19, while nearly 2.73 million Wisconsinites — 46.8 percent of residents — have gotten at least one dose of either the single-dose Johnson & Johnson or the two-dose series Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

About 82.8 percent of Wisconsinites age 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and more than 78.5 percent are fully vaccinated. 

Among Wisconsin residents ages 12-15, 14.7 have started their vaccine series. And 30.7 percent of the 16-17 age group has started their series; 22.7 percent is fully vaccinated.

<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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— The window is now open to apply for $420 million in small business grants funded with the latest COVID-19 federal relief funds.

Gov. Tony Evers announced the application deadline runs through June 7 at 4:30 p.m. The grants are expected to help up to 84,000 businesses that have gross revenue between $10,000 and $7 million. The awards will be $5,000 each.

Apply: https://tap.revenue.wi.gov/WITomorrowGrant/_/

See the release:

— Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport is seeing travel bounce back after the pandemic year.

Airport traffic is up year to year, and leisure travelers are leading the comeback, said Brian Dranzik, airport director.

In an interview aired on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com, Dranzik said business travel also is starting to pick up.

“I think with the vaccine rollout, and people getting more comfortable with traveling once again, and really having a bit of that pent-up demand and desire to get back out there, we started to see a real good rebound in March and it looks like that is going to continue through the rest of the summer,” Dranzik said.

Masks are still required at airports and on flights. Dranzik said that is a federal mandate.


# Milwaukee Tool affiliate pays $7.9 million for downtown Milwaukee office building 


# ProHealth Care plans $6M clinic in Waukesha 


# The Foxconn Globe had a ribbon cutting last week; the company was quiet about it 




– Wisconsin crops emerging, hay quality improving https://brownfieldagnews.com/news/wisconsin-crops-emerging-hay-quality-improving/ 

– State Egg Production Off Slightly from 2020 http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=530&yr=2021 

– Cranberry Growers Gear Up For Summer https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2021/05/23/cranberry-producers-gear-up-for-summer/ 


– Beloit College to require COVID-19 vaccines for students and employees this fall


– COVID-19 Pandemic Hasn’t Wreaked As Much Havoc On School Budgets As Experts Feared https://www.wpr.org/covid-19-pandemic-hasnt-wreaked-much-havoc-school-budgets-experts-feared 


– Ex-financial adviser from Oconomowoc who stole $2.6 million from clients, including his own parents, will go to prison



– Short-term health plans could last longer in Wisconsin under bill

– ProHealth Care plans to build new Waukesha clinic https://biztimes.com/prohealth-care-plans-to-build-new-waukesha-clinic/ 


– Brady Corp. chairman Goodkind to retire, company acquires U.K. firm Magicard



– Evers Seeks Fresh Faces On Natural Resources Board, But Current Chair Isn’t Stepping Down Yet https://www.wpr.org/evers-seeks-fresh-faces-natural-resources-board-current-chair-isnt-stepping-down-yet 


– Price for Milwaukee Tool’s downtown office building in line with expected cost https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/05/24/milwaukee-tool-affiliate-pays-million-for-downtown.html 

– 13th Street in Oak Creek buzzing with industrial development https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/05/24/oak-creeks-13th-street-buzzes-with-industrial-dev.html 

– Fredonia considers using taxes from Guy & O’Neill addition to expand business park



– Eliminating Tipped Wages And Helping Restaurants https://www.wpr.org/eliminating-tipped-wages-and-helping-restaurants 


– Valentine Coffee plans to open a Historic Third Ward location https://www.jsonline.com/story/money/real-estate/commercial/2021/05/24/valentine-coffee-plans-open-milwaukee-historic-3rd-ward-location/5241289001/ 


– Andrew Weiland: Vaccines restore normalcy


<i>See these and other press releases: 

https://www.wisbusiness.com/press-releases/ </i>

– UW-Madison: Clinical trial repurposes cancer drug for treatment of vascular malformations

– Wisconsin Historical Society: Rock School and Hanmer Robbins School Complex listed in the State Register of Historic Places

– Associated Bank: Announces redemption of Senior Bank Notes due 2021

– Road America: Marwin Sports joins as official race apparel provider