UW–Madison researcher wins Governor’s Business Plan Contest

June 4, 2015 By Meredith McGlone

Katie Brenner, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and her team of co-founders won the 2015 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest in Madison Wednesday for an app-based device to help women monitor their fertility.

Photo: Katie Brenner

Katie Brenner

Brenner is a scientist in the lab of Doug Weibel, professor of biochemistry, and the pair co-founded bluDiagnostics. The bluDiagnostics Fertility Finder is a thermometer-like device that measures two hormones found in a woman’s saliva, estradiol and progesterone. Results are then available through an app on a mobile device and can also be sent to a physician.

The bluDiagnostics team, which also includes Madison-based Jodi Schroll and Kate Toews, submitted its idea to the contest and was selected from an initial pool of 238 entries. The team is now looking to raise funds to manufacture a prototype and apply for Food and Drug Administration approval by late 2016.

“The award reflects months of hard work by an amazing team, surrounded by talented mentors, and encouraged by the fantastic entrepreneurial climate at UW–Madison and in Wisconsin,” Brenner says. “We are very grateful to be part of the Wisconsin Entrepreneurship Community, among many people who are working hard to make the world a better place.”

Brenner is a scientist in Weibel’s lab. Last fall, she was one of five researchers in the U.S. chosen for the prestigious Women in Science Fellowship from L’Oreal USA and the American Association for the Advancement of Science for her work developing a test for detecting early signs of infection in premature infants.

Brenner is also a 2014 alumna of the Wisconsin Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, offered through the Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship in the Wisconsin School of Business.

On Monday and Tuesday, Brenner joined 13 finalists – including several others with UW–Madison ties – in presenting business plans to a panel of judges and Wisconsin Entrepreneur’s Conference attendees at the Alliant Energy Center.

The other finalists with ties to the university include:

  • Chorom Pak, Lynx Biosciences. Pak is a research associate in hematology-oncology with the School of Medicine and Public Health.
  • Leyuan Shi, LS Optimal, Shi is a professor of industrial engineering.
  • Menachem Tabanpour, Nutrient Recovery and Upcycling. Tabanpour is a research specialist in the Soil Science Department.
  • Adam Uselmann, OnLume. Uselmann is a research associate in medical engineering at the Morgridge Institute for Research. He is also an alumni of the Wisconsin Entrepreneurship Bootcamp.
  • Cheryl Vickroy, AmebaGone. Vickroy teaches technology commercialization in the master of science in biotechnology program.
  • Patrick Walters, KIINCE. This company’s technology was developed by Kinesiology Professor Kreg Gruben and it receives funding from the university’s Discovery to Product (D2P) initiative.