Three up and coming businesses from UW-Milwaukee are the recipients of grants worth up to $50,000 each, as part of the Ideadvance program from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) along with the UW System and UW Extension.
Tali Payments, Nanoaffix, and the Organic Research Corporation all have progressed to stage two of the program by reaching different businesses goals such as improving their original business model and making clear presentations about their ideas to push forward.
Tali Payments is a mobile payment service that allows customers to use their smartphones to make transactions, similar to a credit card. Its goal is to work with businesses to add value to their brand by making customer service quick, easy, and friendly.
Tali Payments founder Dr. Carlton Reeves, said that the Ideadvance program has helped accelerate their development.
“We were awarded stage one in summer of 2014, which allowed us to take a broader perspective in the market place and look at new and different customer segments,” Reeves said.
Idella Yamben, program manager of Ideadvance, worked with the businesses to find resources and complete milestones to advance through the program. UW-Milwaukee received three of the five grants awarded throughout the UW System.
“They’re solving big things,” she said. “Not just UW-Milwaukee solutions, but global solutions.
The group NanoAffix (NAFX) has developed nanotechnology-based products to produce new sensor technology that detects different kinds of pathogens in the environment, including E. Coli. Dr. Junhong Chen, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at UWM founded the technology in 2009.
Chen said the importance of using the grant to get NAFX’s products into the hands of real customers: “Our sensor technology allows for real-time detection of E. Coli at a low cost and could enhance the public safety and quality of life.”
Organic Research Corporation is a business that develops automated medical image analysis tools in order to help medical professionals automatically identify parts of the body where disease might be present. One of its products, the Digital Liver Pathology Aid (DLPA), can detect indicators of fatty liver disease, and can help assist researchers in developing ways of treating such diseases
“We are developing a common platform that will enable us to rapidly develop and test new features to complement our existing products,” Scott Vanderbeck, President of Organic Research Corp., said. “I see Organic Research Corp. continuing to grow and becoming a leader in developing medical image analysis tools for healthcare and research.
In order to advance to stage two of the program, an investment committee looked at the businesses and determined what kind of potential they have based on three points: whether they are innovative, scalable (could be done regionally, state-wide, nationally, or internationally), and whether it is high-impact (solves a significant problem).
These UWM businesses have proven to the members of Ideadvance that they have what it takes to make a difference.
“You have a very rich entrepreneurial community on campus that I really want everyone to be aware of,” Yamben said. “Students come from all different disciplines, and all different backgrounds, all with the hope of trying to solve a problem that they see.”
The initiative for this program began with the UW System and WEDC in an effort to explore innovative ideas coming from UW campuses. UW Extension took on the role of managing the Ideadvance program, which had funding of up to $2 million from the UW System and WEDC. These corporations said they will use their statewide resources to help their campuses foster solutions to major problems in the world.