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Tech and Biotech: Promega opens branch in India; Forward Festival begins; and Silatronix scores funding.

Tech and Biotech: Promega opens branch in India; Forward Festival begins; and Silatronix scores funding.

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Promega Corp. has opened a branch in New Delhi, India.

“India’s biotechnology industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world,” said Promega president and chief executive Bill Linton.

The subsidiary, Promega Biotech India Private, began operating Aug. 1 and will serve customers in India and the “Pacific Asia region,” said Rajnish Bharti, general manager of the new unit.

It is the 16th branch for Promega, a Fitchburg company that offers more than 3,000 products for biotechnology research, drug development and genetic identity.

Founded in 1978, the company has more than 1,300 employees and had $350 million in revenues in 2013.

In July, Promega started construction on another manufacturing building, at 5455 Nobel Drive.

The $30 million project is expected to be completed next June.

Forward Festival begins

The eight-day Forward Festival opened Thursday with the ever-popular High Tech Happy Hour among the activities, drawing 425 people to celebrate 13 years of the popular gathering.

One of the novel events in this fifth year of the Forward Fest was Thursday’s CodeChix seminar at Madison Area Technical College’s Downtown campus.

CodeChix is a new, local chapter of a nationwide nonprofit organization designed to educate and support women as software engineers.

Founded in 2009 in San Jose, California, CodeChix drew about 30 women to its Madison debut, said B.J. Pfeiffer, one of the organizers of the Madison chapter. It is the only one, so far, in the Midwest, she said.

Pfeiffer said the group encourages women to enter — and stick with — IT.

“Women will start out in technology but, for whatever reason, don’t continue on,” she said.

Pfeiffer, CEO and president of Enterprise Solutions Technology Group — a Madison tech consulting firm founded in 1996 — said at one point, about half of her employees were women. But no longer.

“I’m really hoping to be able to attract women who are interested, and maintain that interest so they can develop full-blown careers,” Pfeiffer said.

The Forward Festival runs through Thursday, featuring events that include the Edible Startup Summit, Wisconsin Innovation Awards, Doyenne Group breakfast and the Forward Technology Conference.

Also on the agenda is OnRamp Wisconsin, an event that lets start-up companies pitch their products and services to established corporations.

Scheduled for Thursday at University Research Park, applications are due by Sunday.

It is the third OnRamp, held in Madison for the first time, presented by the gener8tor accelerator program and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Silatronix sparks investors

Silatronix, a Madison company making a key component for a new generation of lithium ion batteries, has closed on $2.8 million from investors led by the Madison venture capital firm Venture Investors and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

“The purpose of this financing is to allow us to take our product to market,” CEO Mark Zager said.

Silatronix makes an electrolyte that Zager says can make the batteries last longer and stay “ultra stable” in different climates.

Those are “critical performance standards that the industry is looking for right now,” he said.

Zager said Silatronix is in talks with “many, many different partners.” Battery companies from “all over the world” are coming to Madison to see Silatronix’s technology, he said.

“Our goal is to have our electrolytes in products in the market as early as 2016,” Zager said.

The company, with 12 full-time employees, hopes to complete the funding round at $4.2 million.

“This is a very exciting time for the company. We’re seeing that our research and development efforts have produced a very viable improvement to the lithium ion battery business,” Zager said.

Lithium ion batteries are used in a variety of electronic products, from cell phones to electric cars.

Silatronix’s technology came from collaborative research by two UW-Madison professors, Bob Hamers and Bob West.

Contact Judy Newman at jdnewman@madison.com with tips and story suggestions.

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