Two Milwaukee-area firms win Wisconsin Innovation Awards

Corncob Inc., Launch top their categories

Posted by Molly Dill from BizTimes on October 4, 2018

Waukesha-based Corncob Inc. and Brookfield-based Launch-School District of Elmbrook won Wisconsin Innovation Awards Wednesday evening in Madison.

Corncob, which won in the Agriculture category, developed a dynamic membrane water filtration system used in treating wastewater at a lower cost and using less space and energy. Among the applications are brewery water treatment, landfills and potato processing. The company was one of six startups chosen to participate in the fourth cohort of The Water Council’s BREW Accelerator program in 2016, which came with a $50,000 equity investment, space in the Global Water Center and business training and mentorship.

Also a finalist in Agriculture was Appleton-based Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin’s Farm Link, which aims to broaden access to nutritious food by connecting farmers with wholesale buyers and underserved communities.

Launch-School District of Elmbrook won the Education category. The program aims to link a student’s academic learning to hands-on business problems and projects with the help of more than 100 business, higher education and community partners. Its goals are to train students in teamwork, professional skills and entrepreneurship, while allowing them to explore potential careers.

“We’ve taken it a step further by calling it professional, experiential learning. So getting kids, young students, to be professionals in career-related fields that are important for the region,” said Bob Hall, executive director of Launch.

Hall said the company is waging war against “senioritis” by bringing in talented students and giving them real-world experience. He hopes to expand Launch statewide.

“Students that are in our program have a clear sense that they want postsecondary planning, but really don’t have an idea on a career path or even the types of real work that’s out there in the world,” Hall said. “So our program tries to reach deep into students’ passions, their whys for what they want and what engages them – real stuff – and tries to match them with what employers need.”

Other finalists in the Education category were Kohler-based Kohler Co.’s WasteLab, which applies design, engineering and craftsmanship to reuse landfill-bound materials, and Madison-based VisuaLeverage, an information design and visual strategy practice that helps explain complex information in an actionable way.

Several other Milwaukee-area companies were finalists in other categories.

Milwaukee-based Oncata was a finalist in the Art category for its online platform to match advertising content creators and on-camera talent for ad campaigns. Combined Locks-based Dodles was also a finalist in Art for its mobile animation production app. Chetek-based The Mill Events won the Art category for creating a modern event venue in a 100-year old former farm building.

Oconomowoc-based Solstice Health was a finalist in the Business-to-Business category for its direct primary care, wellness and regenerative medical clinic, which operates on a non-insurance membership model. Other B2B finalists were: Barneveld-based Acme Nerd Games, a game development company that focuses on personal development such as career discernment in its products; Madison-based Goods Unite Us Inc., which provides information for consumers regarding companies’ political affiliations; and category winner, Madison-based TailoredCare, a software-as-a-service platform that allows caregivers to keep their loved ones at home longer as they age.

Whitefish Bay-based Melius Outcomes and Wauwatosa-based NanoRed Biotechnology were finalists in the Health category. Melius helps reduce infections, sepsis and mortality in hospitals by providing clinical quality metrics and targeted guidance on performance and outcome improvement. NanoRed has developed a way to get medication directly to cancer cells while sparing healthy cells. Other health finalists were Madison-based EnsoData Inc., which is creating artificial intelligence software for heart diagnostics; category winner, Madison-based Propeller Health, which created a sensor that attaches to a patient’s inhaler to track usage in hopes of improving clinical outcomes by identifying triggers; and people’s choice winner, Madison-based Torq Labs, which developed smart leggings to enhance performance and reduce lower-body joint injuries.

Wauwatosa-based Aquametals LLC and Milwaukee-based P4 Infrastructure Inc. were finalists in the Manufacturing category. AquaMetals invented a class of chemical sensors used to measure the concentration of heavy metals in water. P4 is creating the Internet of Infrastructure with smart devices to help improve construction, operations and maintenance efficiency for public agencies and affiliated private companies. Other Manufacturing finalists were: Necedah-based Clean Beam LLC, which created a walk-through footware bacteria scanning system for food processing plants, medical facilities, laboratories and retail facilities; category winner, Platteville-based Photonic Cleaning Technologies LLC, which developed a contamination control technology for surfaces; and Baraboo-based Trinity Gunshot Alarm System LLC, which provides immediate gunshot detection within a building and alerts occupants and emergency responders.

Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp. was a finalist in the Nonprofit category. WWBIC is a statewide economic development corporation that provides entrepreneurship training and microloans to underserved individuals. Other Nonprofit finalists were Madison-based Doyenne Group Inc., which provides resources for Wisconsin women entrepreneurs; and category winner, Brooklyn-based Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association, a men’s health and education center that brings preventative care to men of color at a trusted location—Madison’s largest black barbershop.

Milwaukee-based Consortiex Inc. and Milwaukee-based The Crafter Space were finalists in the Professional Services category. Consortiex created an Enterprise Resource Planning system for health systems and outsourcing pharmacies to track a single ingredient. The Crafter Space is a brewery incubator that helps accelerate small Wisconsin breweries. Other Professional Services finalists were Madison-based Carex Consulting Group, a staffing firm that created a subscription model for startups and small businesses; and category winner, Madison-based SmartUQ Inc., an industrial-scale uncertainty quantification and analytics software toolset for engineering firms.

The finalists in the Software category were: Madison-based Forte, which builds complex clinical trial protocol calendars for research institutions; category winner, Green Bay-based Matchback Systems Inc., a logistics software-as-a-service company; Madison-based Stimmi LLC, a caregiver collaboration platform for people with special needs; and Madison-based Wolf Flow, a “master tool” used by professionals to organize their desktop windows and applications.

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