Distilleries retooling to produce hand sanitizer is one example of the innovative, flexible attitude with which Wisconsin companies are meeting the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the fight against COVID-19 in Wisconsin ramps up, both local startups and established companies across the state are using their ingenuity to help health care workers and their communities get through the crisis. What follows is a sampling of Wisconsin companies’ innovative responses.

Virtual medicine and telehealth

Given Wisconsin’s status as a growing center of innovation in medical technology, it’s no surprise that several startups are answering the call to provide solutions in this area. Milwaukee-based Vytal Health is offering pay-what-you-can telemedicine visits for all Wisconsin residents; Oak Creek-based RemedyNOW is offering in-home COVID-19 testing in the greater Milwaukee area; and Brookfield-based EmOpti is offering free 90-day trials of its tele-triage system.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee-based Alinea Engage is modifying its patient engagement software platform, normally for rehabilitation services, to help providers track COVID-19’s impact on their client base. Recent enhancements to the Alinea’s new telehealth tools also enable rehabilitation therapists on the platform communicate remotely with their patients.


Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector is getting involved as well. Fond du Lac’s ModTruss normally makes metal structures, but has begun making waiting-room dividers and has designed a portable isolation cubicle. In less than four days, the company went from concept to a working prototype. Once it’s through the testing phase, the company estimates it can produce around 100 units per day.

Safety equipment

Two companies that normally make retail displays,  Elevate97 in Green Bay and Franzen Graphics in Sheboygan, have pivoted to making face shields for health care workers. They’re joined by groups of volunteers in Appleton, Green Bay and Milwaukee making shields, with companies like NEW Plastics, LaserForm and Bay Tek Entertainment providing the plexiglass to support their efforts.

With hundreds of home sewers making cotton face masks, the lifestyle subscription startup Wantable has turned its Milwaukee fulfillment center into a collection and distribution center, with more than 15,000 masks already pledged through the company’s “Sew Good” initiative.

And finally, although alcoholic beverages may be one category of products for which the pandemic hasn’t affected demand, Leger Rock Distillery in Fond du Lac, Hendricks Family Distillery near Oshkosh and Hatch Distilling in Door County have all chosen to retool their operations temporarily to produce hand sanitizer.

These companies are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many Wisconsin companies, including startups and local small businesses, that are using their creativity and drive to meet the challenge this pandemic poses to Wisconsin and the world.

This article is adapted from one that appeared on the Startup Milwaukee blog.