MADISON – Five years ago, Exact
Sciences seemed on its way to becoming an expensive biotech failure in Boston.
Today, it’s a Wisconsin success story and poised to change how patients and
medical professionals everywhere go about detecting colorectal cancer.
Chief Executive Officer Kevin
Conroy and Chief Operating Officer Maneesh Arora, who moved the company from
Massachusetts to Wisconsin in 2009, will tell the story of the company’s
rebound and growth Wednesday, Nov. 12,
the opening day of the 2014 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium at Madison’s Monona Terrace Convention Center.
Recent approvals of Exact Sciences’
colon cancer screening test capped a long and winding process that gathered
momentum when the company moved to Wisconsin. The approvals were the first granted
on the same day by two key federal agencies, the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Exact Sciences’ Cologuard test
detects the presence in stool samples of red blood cells and DNA mutations that
might indicate the presence of colon cancer or its precursors. The company
hopes to make inroads in prevention, particularly with what it estimates to be
as many as 23 million Americans between the ages of 50 and 75 who are not
getting screened as recommended for colon cancer, the second leading cancer
killer in the United States.
The Mayo Clinic will be the first U.S.
health system to offer Cologuard; Group Health Cooperative of South Central
Wisconsin will be the first in Wisconsin.
“With Exact Sciences poised to
grow even more in Madison, we’re thrilled to hear how Kevin and Maneesh brought
the company here – and, more important, why they thought it was the right
move,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.
This year’s conference, with a theme of “30X10,”
will celebrate a rich history dating to 1984. Originally the Madison Venture
Fair, the event has been called the Wisconsin Venture Conference, the Wisconsin
Life Sciences & Venture Conference – and for the past 10 years – the
Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium. Nearly 500 companies have presented during the
conferences in one format or another.
There are two separate
presentation levels at the Early Stage Symposium: the Wisconsin Angel Network Investors’ Track and the Elevator Pitch Olympics. The deadline for company applications has passed; more
than 60 companies applied.
Other speakers and highlights will be
announced in coming weeks. The conference will also feature:
– A dozen panel discussions or plenary sessions featuring leading
entrepreneurs, investors and others tied to the tech sector.
– “Office Hours,” offering the opportunity to meet with subject experts
on a variety of topics in small discussion groups or one-on-one.
– SBIR/STTR awards luncheon to recognize grant recipients from the past
– The inaugural “Excellence in Entrepreneurial Education” award
– The annual “First Look” forum featuring selected campus-based
– Exhibit hall showcasing more than 40 Wisconsin companies.
– A first-night reception, two luncheons, two breakfasts and other
networking opportunities, including an investors-only dinner.
The Tech Council produces the
conference. Sponsors so far include: Aberdean; American Family Insurance; American
Transmission Co.; AT&T; Baird Capital; Baker Tilly; BDO; BloodCenter of
Wisconsin; Center for Technology Commercialization; ConfPlus; Cresa Madison;
Dane County Regional Airport; Findorff; First Business Bank; Foley &
Lardner; Godfrey & Kahn; Group Health Cooperative; HP Enterprise Services;
Insperity; K&L Gates; Madison Gas & Electric; Makin’ HEY
Communications; Marshfield Clinic; Michael Best & Friedrich; Neider &
Boucher; Nelson Schmidt; Quarles & Brady; Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren;
Ruedebusch Development & Construction; Settlers Bank; Skyward; Smith &
Gesteland; State of Wisconsin Investment Board; Tweedee Productions; UW-Milwaukee
Research Foundation; Venture Investors; Virent Energy; Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek;
Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.; Wisconsin
Technical College System; and WTN Media.