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UW Crest with engineering background
October 21, 2022

Spinoff companies win 2022 Wisconsin Innovation Awards

Three companies with ties to the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering have won 2022 Wisconsin Innovation Awards.

Stem Pharm, a company co-founded by Biomedical Engineering Professor Bill Murphy, earned top honors in the biotechnology category; C-Motive Technologies, co-founded by Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Dan Ludois, took home the business-to-business award; and Atrility Medical, a venture that grew out of an undergraduate project in the Biomedical Engineering Design program, won the process award.

All have leveraged some of the many entrepreneurial resources available to UW-Madison faculty, staff and students, including the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), Discovery to Product (D2P), the Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC), and the Isthmus Project.

Photo of William Murphy
Bill Murphy

“UW-Madison has a cadre of unique and complementary resources to help get innovative companies started. Stem Pharm’s formation and early growth benefitted from D2P’s mentoring, WARF’s technology licensing, CTC’s small business innovation research support, and the Forward BIO Institute’s strategic value creation,” said Murphy, Stem Pharm’s chief science officer and Harvey D. Spangler Professor and H.I. Romnes Faculty Fellow at UW-Madison. “Hopefully this example blazes a path that can be followed by other innovative biotechnologies.”

Stem Pharm has developed the most comprehensive and biologically relevant 3D human brain organoid (“brain-in-a-dish”) commercially available for neurological drug discovery and pre-clinical research. Stem Pharm’s neural organoids can be used to replicate diseases and study their mechanisms, screen new drugs and evaluate toxicity, all done in vitro before conducting animal studies and human clinical trials.

C-Motive has taken the idea of rubbing a balloon on a wool sweater, but magnified the forces generated through a series of multiplicative gains in mechanical, electrical and electrochemical innovation. By transitioning to this force for use inside electric motors, more sustainable materials can be used for their construction and operating efficiency at low speeds is enhanced with lower costs and reduced energy consumption.

Dan Ludois
Dan Ludois

“Pursuing our core technology began as an idea among like-minded graduate student friends at UW-Madison,” said Ludois, the Jean van Bladel Associate Professor. “Campus entrepreneurial resources and the greater Wisconsin business network were critical for me and (co-founder) Justin Reed to pursue the tech, ultimately founding and growing C-Motive Technologies. Today, C-Motive employs 20 people in its Middleton office, where we’re engaged with industry leaders to revolutionize the way world creates motion.”

Atrility Medical has developed and secured U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance for the AtriAmp, a device for improving, evaluating and managing post-operative heart arrhythmias. The AtriAmp provides earlier detection and more accurate diagnosis for arrhythmias, which is essential to avoid delays in treatment and allows for improved patient outcomes. The device started with a BME Design project in 2016, and BME alumni Matt Knoespel (BSBME ’17) and Phil Terrien (BSBME ’17) are among the company’s co-founders.