Linectra and Xemex tie for second in manufacturing category of statewide competition

Two Morgridge-affiliated inventors tied for second place in the advanced manufacturing category of this year’s statewide Governor’s Business Plan Contest.

Linectra, a company led by Morgridge Medical Engineering graduate researcher Brandon Walker, developed a high-resolution, high-throughput 3D metal printer. The device uses electron beam technology to print metal objects faster, better and in large-scale quantities.

Xemex, a company led by Morgridge Medical Engineering and UW–Madison mechanical engineering alumnus Eric Ronning, developed a novel static mixer design for two-part adhesives. In these adhesives, the two fluid components must be mixed immediately before use. Xemex introduced a disposable nozzle that efficiently mixes two fluids as they’re extruded through the nozzle.

Asto CT, a company based on Morgridge Medical Engineering developed technology, placed third in the life sciences category behind UW spinoff Lynx Biosciences. Asto CT is a system for standing x-ray computed tomography (CT) to provide screening and diagnosis for horses. The system is customized to meet the needs of horses and provides a safe and comfortable imaging environment.

The competition began with 206 statewide applicants and whittled down through three rounds of judging to the “Diligent Dozen.” A tie brought the total number of finalists to 13. The finalists pitched their technologies to judges during the Wisconsin Entrepreneur’s Conference held June 7-8 at the Alliant Energy Center.

Kevin Eliceiri, investigator and FabLab director in Morgridge Medical Engineering, says the group encourages its researchers to have intellectual freedom and to collaborate on each other’s projects.

Kevin Eliceiri

“We bring in smart, creative people, give them tough problems, good resources, and see what they can do,” Eliceiri says. “This lack of a silo approach, I think, directly contributes to technical innovation and leads to the business plan success.”

Linectra is just one example of this technical innovation. Walker developed the high-resolution, high-power technology with Rock Mackie, the retired director of Morgridge Medical Engineering. The advent of the technology was helped along by a 2015 WARF Accelerator grant, and, just a day before the competition, Linectra received a letter of intent from N.E.W. Venture Foundry for a $150,000 system as part of a planned 2017 pilot program.

“The most valuable part of the competition was getting to meet so many amazing people in Wisconsin’s startup ecosystem,” Walker says. “We’ve received a lot of great feedback that will help us get off the ground quickly. We’ve even heard some new ideas for 3D metal printing that range from better prosthetics for veterans to sustainable architecture to artwork.”