Each year, Wisconsin Inno compiles a list of the Wisconsin startups it feels are poised for major growth in the next year. These 20 companies run the gamut from agriculture to business services. Some are still in their early stages; some have been around for several years. But in the eyes of Wisconsin’s venture capitalists, tech leaders and accelerator managers, all of them are all set to make headlines in 2020.
Gener8tor sets up new companies for success
A large percentage of the companies on the list have gone through the Gener8tor accelerator or Gener8tor’s free accelerator program for early-stage startups, gBeta. These include healthcare startups Gregor Diagnostics, which is innovating prostate cancer testing, and VasoGnosis, which is developing diagnostic and surgical planning software to help physicians treat cerebrovascular diseases.
Paxafe relocated to Milwaukee after participating in Gener8tor’s accelerator program. Launched in 2018, Paxafe is developing an IoT smart packaging system to protect the transportation of high-value items.
Consumer-focused startups are also thriving thanks to the gBETA program. Field to Freezer is an app that match hunters with nearby game processors. Just launched in November, it already has more than 1,500 meat processors from across the country listed in its database. Xena has designed an office-appropriate women’s steel-toed work boot that is resistant to impact, compression, heat and chemicals.
Founded in 2018, Fiveable is a platform where teachers can broadcast live test-prep sessions for AP-level classes. The startup has already connected tens of thousands of students and teachers, something that put Fiveable founder and CEO Amanda DoAmaral on Wisconsin Inno’s 50 on Fire list for 2019.
The Winnebago Seed Fund sees potential
The Neenah-based Winnebago Seed Fund has also provided funding for multiple startups on the list. Along with Brightstar Wisconsin, Winnebago provided early-stage capital for Arbré Technologies, which has developed an RFID-assisted asset management system for tree nurseries and other horticulture-based businesses. Founded in 2016, Arbré has operations in Milwaukee and Stevens Point, and already has dozens of customers across North America.
Launched in 2017, Milwaukee’s Sift Healthcare offers patient-specific data analytics to healthcare providers and insurance companies The company launched in 2017, and in 2018, received a $1 million investment from Winnebago and Wind River Financial.
Tech startups flourish thanks to regional expertise
As in previous years, Wisconsin’s biotech and software industries are well-represented on the list. Blexx Technology has developed makes a small medical device that sterilizes and disintegrates hypodermic needles on-site. Otologic Technologies, Intellivisit and Pythonic AI are all using AI to improve health outcomes. In Milwaukee, Pythonic AI is using AI to automate the medical records process. In Madison, Otologic is helping doctors better diagnose ear disease and Intellivisit’s smartphone app analyzes user input to provide a preliminary diagnosis and connect with doctors.
Meanwhile, MoreTalent and Octavian Technology Group are both providing businesses with artificial intelligence and data science intelligence services. MoreTalent was founded by a former IBM executive; Octavian’s leadership includes three former technologists from Northwestern Mutual.
Innovations that are advancing a range of industries
Founded in 2012, Madison’s SciArt Software makes generative design software that allows engineers to virtually design objects that meet all their weight and size requirements. By designing industrial components that fit ideal dimensions, engineers save time and money needed to build and test multiple iterations of a part.
AmebaGone is addressing the problem of antibiotic resistance in crops by developing products that combat bacterial pathogens in potato, apple and other vegetable crops in Wisconsin and around the world. Shorewood’s SafeLi is disrupting the energy sector by developing a patented material that boosts energy storage capacity in lithium-ion batteries.
Social impact startups tackle complex social issues
Several other startups on the list are aiming to create a positive social impact. Madison’s Lift Dane has created a technology platform that helps people who have committed civil offenses get their records expunged or reinstate their driver’s license if it’s been suspended. Carepool works with Managed Care Organizations and other private payers to more easily connect older adults and those with disabilities to specialized transportation services by automating the booking process.
In Milwaukee, Colorful Connections is working to close diversity gaps within the communications and creative industries by assisting talent from diverse background navigate and advance their careers and matching companies with a diverse talent pool.
All these startups, plus many past nominees, will be in attendance at Wisconsin Inno’s State of Innovation meet-up on Thursday, February 20 at Marquette University’s 707 Hub. Entrepreneurs, investors and anyone else interested in Wisconsin’s startup ecosystem are invited to attend. More information on the event can be found here.