Shine Bright: Greg Piefer, SHINE Medical Technologies
There’s modernizing how work gets done and then there’s modernizing the work itself. Both are examples of innovation. What Greg Piefer has done for the “modern” delivery of health care amounts to transformational innovation. Piefer put his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison to work by founding advanced physics technology manufacturer Phoenix in 2005. But over the next five years, Piefer saw game-changing potential in producing several medical isotopes, one of which, molybdenum-99, is used in more than 20 million imaging tests in the U.S. and more than 40 million worldwide every year. SHINE Medical Technologies was born. In 2019 SHINE landed a $50 million funding round from a global investment management firm and began construction of a plant in Janesville projected to cost more than $100 million.
The plant is in Janesville for a lot of important reasons, but SHINE’s and Piefer’s roots are still deeply planted in a Madison ecosystem that includes UW–Madison, Morgridge Institute for Research, Wisconsin Investment Partners and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. The technology’s potential in improving the human condition is breathtaking. The missions of both Phoenix and SHINE revolve around improving the world, not just changing it. “I don’t want to live a life where I’m not trying to do that,” Piefer says. “To me that’s important. Part of the joy of living is contributing in that way.” He adds, “I have plans to build one of the largest companies in the world. I know that sounds bold and crazy, and maybe it is, but the reality is, that’s what we’re here for.”
Piefer is the winner of the 2020 Best of Madison Business Brian Howell Excellence in Innovation Award.