Device to help women with infertility wins 2015 Governor’s Business Plan Contest

A Madison startup company whose device is aimed at helping women struggling with infertility took home the grand prize in the 12th annual Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest.

BluDiagnostics is developing a Fertility Finder, a device that looks like a basal thermometer. A woman places it in her mouth for one minute and a disposable paper strip inserted into the device grabs a saliva sample and measures the presence of two hormones: estradiol and progesterone. The results are sent to the woman’s mobile phone through an app, and may be sent to her physician, as well.

Developed by a team at UW-Madison, Fertility Finder is intended as a replacement to current over-the-counter, urine-based test kits that are hard to read or blood tests that are often inaccurate, said Katie Brenner, the co-founder of bluDiagnostics and a post-doctoral biochemist at the UW-Madison.

Brenner presented Tuesday during the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, along with 12 other finalists, and the winners were announced Wednesday. BluDiagnostics won the contest’s Life Sciences category. Other category winners were:

Advanced Manufacturing:  Intelligent Composites, Okauchee, is an advanced materials and manufacturing company with a novel metal matrix composite material platform. Aluminum graphite silicon carbide is wear-resistant, stronger, stiffer and self-lubricating when compared to traditional aluminum alloys. The first product for manufacture and sale is a composite cylinder liner for internal combustion engines. Presenter: Chris Jordan.

Business Services: Hunt Butler, Rio, provides a platform for hunters to find lands to be leased for short periods of time from landowners across Wisconsin, and eventually the globe. Along with providing a marketplace for landowners and hunters to find each other, Hunt Butler also collects information and ratings from both parties. Presenter: Derric Francis.

Information Technology: 65 Incorporated, Mequon, gives people turning 65 and older, whether working or retired, the fast, easy, expert and unbiased information they need to make important Medicare decisions with confidence. The company provides individualized guidance through software products offered online and consulting services via telephone, web conference or face-to-face. Presenter: Melinda Caughill.

Thirteen contestants emerged from three rounds of judging in the contest organized through the Wisconsin Technology Council, which produces the contest in conjunction with its partners and sponsors. The contest began in late January with about 240 entries; more than 3,100 entries have been received since the contest began in 2004.

This year’s finalists delivered seven-minute pitches on their business ideas during the 13th annual Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, which was held at Madison’s Alliant Energy Center. Second- and third-place category winners were:

Advanced Manufacturing: Élevé Technical Innerwear, Amy Miller, Verona, and Forsythe & Storms Technologies LLC, Lorne Forsythe, Oak Creek (tie); Nutrient Recovery and Upcycling LLC, Menachem Tabanpour, Madison.

Business Services: ConfPlus Inc., Cathy Liu, Madison; Pellucid Water, Mark Raabe, Milwaukee.

Information Technology: CountAbout, Joe Carpenter, Madison; AltusCampus, Dan Guerra Jr., Madison.

Life Sciences: OnLume, Adam Uselmann, Madison; KIINCE, Patrick Walters, Madison.

Finalists submitted full business plans for review by a panel of more than 80 judges established by the Tech Council, which is the non-profit and non-partisan science and technology adviser to the governor and the Legislature. Each plan described the core product or service, defined the customer base, estimated the size of the market, identified competition, described the management team and provided key financial data.

Sponsors contributed more than $150,000 in cash, office space, legal assistance, accounting, marketing and more. About $2 million in cash and in-kind prizes have been awarded since the inception of the contest in 2004.

Sponsors of the 2015 contest include: 100state; Aberdean Consulting; American Family Insurance; American Transmission Co.; Ascendancy Advisors; AT&T; Cresa Madison; Exact Sciences; Honkamp Krueger & Co.; Kollath & Associates; Madison Gas & Electric; Marshfield Clinic Applied Sciences; Michael Best & Friedrich; Midwest Prototyping; The Milwaukee Bucks; Mortenson Construction; Nordic; Pieper Properties; Quarles & Brady; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren s.c.; SCORE Wisconsin; Smith & Gesteland; State of Wisconsin Investment Board; STUCK LLC; Tweedee Productions; University Research Park; UW-Madison Office of Corporate Relations; Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; Wisconsin Economic Development Corp; and Wisconsin Technical College System.

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