New seed fund to benefit medical research

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The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. has awarded $140,000 to new nonprofit corporation Bridge to Cures Inc. to establish a seed fund to benefit medical research in southeastern Wisconsin.

B2C plans to provide seed funding to entrepreneurs at educational facilities in the Milwaukee area who plan to create products and companies based on their medical research and inventions.

The nonprofit is working in partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Concordia University, BloodCenter of Wisconsin, Marquette University and the Milwaukee School of Engineering, through the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.

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“This effort is unique in that it crosses institutional boundaries, and encourages collaboration and synergy to accomplish a goal that would be much more difficult for any of the partners to achieve on its own,” said John Raymond Sr., president and chief executive officer of Medical College of Wisconsin.

B2C will create a Bridge to Cures Health Care Innovation Fund, which will provide financial assistance to two product-oriented and two service-oriented startups in the medical field each year.
The plan is to help the companies grow to the venture capital stage within two to four years.

“The core strategy of B2C is to deliver exceptional experience on entrepreneurial finance to emerging biomedical ventures,” said chief business officer and co-founder Doug Stafford of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “This way, a startup will have the best chance of receiving subsequent venture capital funding.”

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The program will begin accepting applicants later this year. The top proposals will be asked to submit a business plan, and will receive mentorship to do so. Finalists will compete in a Wisconsin Healthcare Innovator Pitch event in front of an investment committee.

The top product applicant will be awarded a $200,000 grant and access to the B2C headquarters at UWM’s Innovation Campus in Wauwatosa. The top service company will receive $42,000 in funding and campus space. An additional $28,000 grant would go to the product company and an additional $12,000 grant to the service category.

“Even with an abundance of world-class research taking place at Wisconsin’s public and private universities, comparatively few ideas and products are being successfully commercialized into new business ventures,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of the WEDC. “WEDC wants to ensure that more startups stay on track and reach that critical stage of commercialization, which help create and grow more businesses, and generate more jobs across the state.”

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