Whether it was adding space, encouraging young entrepreneurs or even taking one noteworthy company public, the Madison area tech sector dominated much of the business news in 2013.
Epic Systems Corp. opened its Farm Campus and Deep Space auditorium, adding $578 million worth of construction to the Verona headquarters of the electronic health records developer, according to Verona city officials. And work has started on Epic’s fourth set of office buildings.
Promega Corp. debuted its $130 million Feynman Center biotech products manufacturing building, expanding its Fitchburg campus.
Theatrical lighting company ETC, Electronic Theatre Controls, Middleton, began production in its new factory in Mazomanie, after a $12 million remodeling of a former printing plant.
SAFC, a subsidiary of Sigma-Aldrich Corp., began a $10 million to $15 million expansion of its contract drug manufacturing facilities in Verona.
Around Madison, co-working spaces opened, providing a cost-effective way for young tech companies to network and get off the ground. Former Epic employees have been among the most prolific tech entrepreneurs, including some whose new businesses aim to help Epic clients.
At the same time, Cellular Dynamics International, the company started in 2004 by acclaimed UW-Madison researcher James Thomson, held an initial offering of publicly traded stock, sold on the Nasdaq market under the symbol ICEL. It was the first IPO for a Madison company in six years, and it netted CDI $43 million.
“It has helped us execute on our strategy. It has been a very positive change,” said chief executive Bob Palay.
CDI has more than 100 employees and is building a lab in Novato, Calif., that will be its second site. Revenues doubled over the past year to $2.5 million for the quarter that ended Sept. 30, and Palay said the IPO helped accomplish that. “Absolutely, that was a factor in that kind of very rapid growth,” he said.
Palay said going public opened ownership of the company to small investors, in Wisconsin and elsewhere, and to large institutional investors.
“We believe that what CDI is doing is unprecedented. We manufacture human cells to specification. That has very positive implications for medical research,” he said.
Tycho Peterson, senior analyst with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., which managed the offering, rated the stock as “overweight,” which means in the coming months, it is expected to perform better than the total average of stocks he watches in that market sector. In a Nov. 13 note, Peterson raised his 12-month price target from $18 to $20. The stock closed Wednesday at $17.47 a share.
“They are targeting a number of large and unpenetrated markets,” including research, stem-cell banking, and, eventually, therapeutics, Peterson said, in an interview. He said CDI could also branch out into other areas, such as testing for compatible organ transplants someday.
“They’re the first ones to really industrialize stem-cell production and do it in a very high-quality manner,” he said.
Public company changes
Several other publicly traded Madison-area companies were also in the news this year:
Anchor BanCorp Wisconsin ended its five-year struggle to regain its financial footing by going through a prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing and emerging with most of its big debts settled, thanks to a $175 million capitalization from new investors. Previous stock in Anchor, parent of Madison-based AnchorBank, was eliminated as part of the deal, but in late December, the bank filed a registration statement with federal regulators seeking to re-establish shares for public trading on the Nasdaq market.
Sears Holdings Corp. filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission to split off Lands’ End. It would be the first time the Dodgeville clothing retailer would return to an autonomous, publicly traded company since 2002, when Hoffman Estates, Ill.,-based Sears bought Lands’ End for $1.9 billion.
Spectrum Brands Holdings moved to Middleton, leaving behind the West Side buildings it has occupied along the Beltline since 1965 and 1985. The consumer products company’s roots in Madison — tied to Rayovac batteries — date back to 1906.