propeller health (copy)

Propeller Health, with a sensor system for asthma inhalers, is collaborating with Novartis to add the Madison company's sensors to the Swiss drug giant's inhalers.

Collaborations for two local biotech companies; a new name for a health IT business; and a new role for a key StartingBlock champion top the tech and biotech news this week.

Propeller Health

and Novartis

Propeller Health is working with Swiss health care giant Novartis Pharma to develop a sensor that will be added to the Breezhaler, an inhaler used with Novartis medications for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

It is the fifth major pharmaceutical company to collaborate with Propeller on inhaler sensors.

Madison-based Propeller makes sensors that help record when and where patients with asthma and COPD use their rescue inhalers so they can better control their symptoms.

Propeller, founded in 2010, says it is now involved in 45 programs around the U.S. The company received $21.5 million from investors last fall. Propeller has 60 employees, including 45 in Madison.

The company received the American Telemedicine Association’s President’s Award for Innovation in Remote Healthcare in 2016.


and Ovid Therapeutics

NeuroPointDX, the diagnostics division of Stemina Biomarker Discovery, of Madison, is collaborating with Ovid Therapeutics to identify biomarkers of Angelman syndrome.

Angelman syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that involves delayed development, problems with movement and balance, seizures and other symptoms. It affects one-in-12,000 to one-in-20,000 people, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Ovid, a privately owned New York biopharmaceutical company, is developing a treatment for Angelman syndrome. NeuroPointDX uses its technology to identify differences in the body chemistry of children with autism spectrum disorder.

The joint study is aimed at finding biomarkers associated with Angelman syndrome and potentially identifying people most likely to respond to Ovid’s treatment.

Catalyze becomes Datica

Founded in 2013, the health info-tech company developed technology to help digital health care companies comply with federal privacy rules and to help them integrate into larger health care software systems.

“Catalyze was the right name to demonstrate the vision and impact the company was having on health care,” CEO and co-founder Travis Good said, in a blog explaining its name change.

But after a three-year struggle with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Catalyze’s application for a trademark on its name was rejected. Patent officials said the name is too generic in the health care and technology industries to get a trademark.

So the company is now called Datica, reflecting the protected health data it handles.

“Health care is in a transformational period, and as a trusted partner to the industry we plan to be well in front of where the puck is headed, and that includes the evolution of our company brand,” Good said.

StartingBlock executive director steps down

Scott Resnick, who was one of the initiators of the StartingBlock Madison idea and has shepherded it through the final fundraising efforts, has stepped down as executive director and will be the entrepreneur-in-residence at the planned East Side entrepreneurial hub.

Resnick, who is also chief operating officer of Hardin Design & Development, said he will continue to work with entrepreneurs seeking resources and to serve as a StartingBlock ambassador to organizations outside Madison. He will also work on “big-idea projects that move the needle for the city and state,” Resnick said, in a blog post.

Resnick is a former Madison alderman and was a 2015 mayoral candidate.

Chandra Miller Fienen will head StartingBlock’s interim efforts as director of operations as a search is conducted for a new executive director, Resnick said.

StartingBlock will be part of The Spark, an eight-story building planned by American Family Insurance Group in the 800 block of East Washington Ave. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in January, and American Family said construction of the building is expected to be completed in mid-2018.

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