WUWM: Innovation Reporting

It seems like every day there are breakthroughs in science, medicine and technology. But what do those advancements mean for you? WUWM’s Innovation Reporter Chuck Quirmbach will answer your questions, and make the difficult easier to grasp.

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Chuck Quirmbach

When it comes to the local economy, there’s some good and bad news. It' on the venture capital front — the money provided by investors that often helps businesses get underway or grow.

The good news is that economists say more venture capital dollars are flowing to the Milwaukee area, and the Midwest. The bad news is that some other parts of the U.S. are faring much better.

About half the money in U.S. venture capital deals goes to California. New York gets 14%. Six other Great Lakes states, including Wisconsin, get a combined total of 4%.

Maria_Savenko / stock.adobe.com

If you post about this year's elections on a blog or on social media like Facebook, you may wind up being a tiny part of new Milwaukee-based study. Researchers at UWM and Marquette University hope to use data science to learn more about voter priorities.

Political polls, usually done by telephone, already tell us some things about potential voters. But UW-Milwaukee marketing professor Purush Papatla says polls have shortcomings.

"Polling can only done at certain times. And, polling takes time to get the data back, and analyze and find the results," Papatla said.

Bill Ingalls / NASA

A rocket scheduled to go to the International Space Station on Sunday will carry a Wisconsin experiment that could help in the fight against bacteria that resist antibiotics. The research may also assist future astronauts and other space travelers.  

Courtesy of Pouya Mirzaei

Teaching often means using creative ways to get through to students about complex subjects. For example, at Marquette University, an assignment has led one undergrad to create a children's comic book about chemistry. 

Art has often been used to teach, including about science. Even very commercial art. For example, in the 1966 science fiction film Fantastic Voyage, a submarine crew was made tiny and sent inside a man. A trailer from the film boasted, "Off on a fantastic voyage, actually entering, inside, the human body, exploring an unknown universe!  Unknown danger!"

Chuck Quirmbach

The regional economic development partnership known as Milwaukee 7, or M7, says it has brought a lot of jobs to the area, or kept them here. But that may not be true in some low-income neighborhoods. 

M7 was launched in 2005 as a cooperative economic platform for Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties. The partnership has just completed its third, five-year job recruitment effort, funded by about $9 million in public money and private donations. 

Chuck Quirmbach

The new leader of a Milwaukee organization aiming to double the number of Milwaukee technology workers by 2025 says the goal is doable. But she says it will take getting more diversity into the tech sector.

Kathy Henrich is CEO of the Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition, which was formed last year by some of the area's biggest companies. Those include Accenture, Advocate Aurora Health, Johnson Controls, Kohl's, Northwestern Mutual and Rockwell Automation. More firms and local colleges are joining and pledging money. 

Chuck Quirmbach

If you use energy efficient LED light bulbs in your home, you partly have Chuck Swoboda to thank. He spent 16 years as CEO of Cree Inc., a company that helped bring LED lighting to the market.

Courtesy of Froedtert, the Medical College of Wisconsin, and UW-Milwaukee

Brain cancer is relatively rare. But depending on the type of that disease and the patient, the survival rate can be low. 

Most often, brain cancer occurs when cells spread from cancer in another part of the body. Medical experts say timely care decisions for the patients can be critical. The Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Network says a new smartphone app, designed by UW-Milwaukee, is leading to faster treatment.

Chuck Quirmbach

The transportation sector — that's people driving gasoline-fueled cars and using other vehicles — has become the single largest source of carbon dioxide pollution in the United States. So, despite some setbacks and concerns in Wisconsin, the push for more electric vehicles is expected to continue in 2020.

There are now more than 1 million electric vehicles (EV) on U.S. roads. California is leading the way. In Wisconsin, the percentage of drivers using EV is still less than 1%. But it's a dedicated group. 

Courtesy of Erin Bloodgood (Bloodgood Foto) @bloodgoodfoto

Wisconsin's leading energy regulator says she hopes to create a roadmap this year for how Wisconsin can get all of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2050. Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairperson Rebecca Valcq announced the goal Thursday at a renewable energy conference in Madison, held by the group RENEW.

Chuck Quirmbach

Solar energy in Wisconsin continued to grow in 2019, as more homeowners had rooftop panels installed and big utilities started building multi-panel solar farms.

Wind power is increasing more slowly in the state. However, developers are again coming forward with proposals for multiple turbines.

Nationally, researchers are working on ways to get even more energy from solar and wind, as states like Wisconsin aim to reduce their carbon emissions over the next few decades.

Chuck Quirmbach

People who rent a car to go on vacation or a business trip are finding more options for better gas mileage.  Some car dealers, traditional rental firms and even car-sharing companies have started renting gas-electric hybrids. But driving a hybrid isn't always the cheapest way to go. 

In October, I test drove a gas-electric hybrid car on my return trip from a Society of Environmental Journalists conference in Colorado. While recording my thoughts, the car radio was playing the 1950’s song “Earth Angel”:

Chuck Quirmbach

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers says state officials will meet with Foxconn to try to solve an apparent disagreement with the firm over potential taxpayer subsidies. He also says his administration is "pro-Foxconn." But the leader of Wisconsin's economic development agency promises clearer scrutiny of the Taiwan-based company's job creation claims. 

Chuck Quirmbach

In the next decade, NASA is promising to send men and women back to the moon. Plus, there are international plans to start assembling a platform near the moon, called Deep Space Gateway, from which to set forth on missions to Mars or elsewhere in the solar system.

Chuck Quirmbach

News that the Wisconsin governor's office wants changes in the state's contract with Foxconn is being greeted with praise — and caution — in Racine County.

Foxconn says it continues to hire people. The company also says it's building a manufacturing and research center south of State Highway 11 in Mount Pleasant. 

READ: Reports: Foxconn Currently Ineligible For Tax Credits