A DeForest company was among the 231 winners selected for the We’re All Innovating Contest announced Monday, Dec. 7, by Gov. Tony Evers.

Simul8 LLC was one of the top winners in the “Technology Innovation to Address COVID-19 Impacts on Health” category for companies with less than five employees.

“Wisconsin is known for its can-do spirit and its big ideas,” said Gov. Evers. “The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired businesses to find new ways fight the virus, operate their businesses, and meet the needs of our community. After looking at these winning projects, I’m truly in awe of these folks’ ingenuity, imagination, and creativity.”

The We’re All Innovating Contest was created by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) this fall to recognize and promote the creative ways startups and small businesses are adapting to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A team of 182 volunteer judges coordinated by the Wisconsin Technology Council evaluated blind entries from more 1226 businesses, ranging from biotechnology firms to restaurants. Entries were evaluated in part on their progress to date and the potential for the innovation to move forward. The contest drew participants from across the state, including entries and judges from 70 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, and featured a strong showing from minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses.

The judges selected winners in three major categories: technology innovation to address COVID-19 impacts on health, technology innovation to address COVID-19 impacts on businesses, and service and business operation innovations to respond to COVID-19 disruption.

Top prizes went to 17 winners in the three categories; all 231 winners selected for funding have the opportunity to share in a total of $3 million. The grants will help offset costs incurred since March 1 and those anticipated through Dec. 30.

Here’s the statement about Simul8’s winning entry: “One of the most devastating effects of COVID-19 is respiratory and pulmonary system failure, in which patients are deprived of life-giving oxygen. Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation, or ECMO, is an existing but complicated process that can take over heart and lung functions for critically ill patients. However, there is no commercially available training system for physicians. Much like flight simulators help to train pilots before they take to the air, Simul8 LLC’s training system can instruct doctors before they work with live patients. The ECMO procedure involves placing larger catheters into the body, removing blood to be cleansed of carbon dioxide, and recirculating it with necessary oxygen. The Simul8 system, which is being developed at UW Health in partnership with Dane County Emergency Medical Services, will allow more physicians to be credentialed. In the process, perhaps more lives to be saved. The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the University of Iowa and others are also involved in advancing the Simul8 model.”

Milwaukee-based Novir LLC received the top prize for its work developing a test to rapidly detect antibodies found in people who have already contracted COVID-19. Novir’s test can deliver results in minutes rather than the days required for previous tests. Simple to use, portable and not dependent on expensive laboratory equipment, Novir’s serological antibody test is less expensive than polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that also detect COVID-19 antibodies.

The Novir antibody test is undergoing U.S. Food and Drug Administration review and is expected to be cleared this month. Production of about 100,000 Novir antibody tests per month will begin soon, providing more “early warning” potential to health systems, businesses and a general public eager to see the COVID-19 pandemic pass.

For more information, visit simul8.tech.

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