Over 200 Wis. businesses awarded for innovation amid COVID-19

Governor Evers showed his support for Joe Biden with a virtual campaign event for La Crosse...
Governor Evers showed his support for Joe Biden with a virtual campaign event for La Crosse voters Thursday morning.(WEAU)
Published: Dec. 7, 2020 at 3:55 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 7, 2020 at 6:07 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Two hundred and thirty one small businesses and startups in Wisconsin were recognized Monday for their creative ways to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Tony Evers presented the winners with the We’re All Innovating Contest awards, which will provide funding to help offset costs incurred from the start of the pandemic until Dec. 30.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired businesses to find new ways fight the virus, operate their businesses, and meet the needs of our community,” the governor said. “After looking at these winning projects, I’m truly in awe of these folks’ ingenuity, imagination, and creativity.”

Some of the companies that won awards include Madison Farmers United, which created a plan to make orders for locally sourced good from farmers made online available for curbside pickup.

Other local winners of the award include:

  • Ventris Learning in Sun Prairie: Ventris Learning is working with speech language pathologists work with students through “teletherapy” or online instruction.
  • FMS LLC / Morris Ramen in Madison: The Morris Ramen restaurant works with non profits to create a system where about a dozen restaurants – including their own – are paid to prepare meals for disadvantaged people in the Madison area.
  • Innovation Strategies in Madison: Innovation Strategies took a conveyor-style bagel toaster and turned it into an ultra-violet light sterilizer that could disinfect used or exposed personal protection equipment (PPE).
  • Simul8 LLC in Deforest: The Simul8 system, which is being developed at UW Health in partnership with Dane County Emergency Medical Services, will allow more physicians to be credentialed with learning how to care for critically ill patients before they work with live patients.
  • Semba Biosciences Inc. in Madison: Semba Biosciences is working on “batch manufacturing” methods to produce more monoclonal antibodies, which appear to help COVID-19 patients.
  • AIQ Global Inc. in Madison: . AIQ Global Inc. is using software to automatically quantify computerized tomography lung imaging patterns in COVID-19 patients.
  • Midwest Prototyping in Blue Mounds: Midwest Prototyping developed an inexpensive yet effective process for making face shields for healthcare professionals, known as the “Badger Shield.”
  • Economic Empowerment in Madison: Economic Empowerment is working on building a digital system to connect entrepreneurs to resources, mentors and service organizations by virtually networking.
  • Photonic Cleaning Technologies in Platteville: Photonic Cleaning Technologies manufactures high-tech polymers for the photonics and aerospace industries, but they can also be used as a thickening agent for alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Now, they make the “Hands So Soft” line of hand sanitizer that are also quick drying.

Judges selected winners in three major categories:

  • Service and Business Operation Innovation to Respond to COVID-19 Disruption
  • Technology Innovation to Address COVID-19 Impacts on Health
  • Technology to Address COVID-19 Impacts on Business

Seventeen businesses won the top prizes across the three categories, according to a news release. All winners will share a total of $3 million in grants.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation created the We’re All Innovating Contest this fall to promote startups and small businesses to adapt to the challenges they have faced from COVID-19. More than 180 judges evaluated blind entries from over 1,200 businesses. Entries and judges represented multiple areas across the state, drawing from 70 of the 72 counties.

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