If you’re an employee of Epic Systems Corp. and you have a hankering for a can of cola, you’ll have to leave the campus to buy it.
The Verona electronic medical records powerhouse banned the sale of soda of all types — regular or diet — from its cafeterias and vending machines in late January.
The decision was made by “a small but representative group” and was announced at an all-employee staff meeting, Epic spokesman Eric Helsher said.
“It was met with cheers,” he said.
The idea is to promote health and wellness, Helsher said. The sprawling campus is also a tobacco-free location.
Epic has long provided free beverages to its employees, who often work extended hours, but soda has not been part of that perk — only milk, juice and water, he said.
“Now, the soda fountains just say ‘Water’ and there’s no charge for it,” Helsher said.
Employees can also bring in their own soft drinks, he said.
UW Hospital was among the first local organizations to get rid of soda when it enacted the policy in October 2014, saying sugary drinks can lead to serious health problems such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
The hospital eliminated regular soda, sweetened fruit-flavored drinks, energy drinks and sweetened teas and coffees. Diet soda, sparkling waters, and fat-free and low-fat milk are among the products still available.
“We certainly did get feedback (at the beginning),” UW Hospital spokeswoman Emily Kumlien said. But now, “complaints have really died down. ... From our end, things have been going really well. We consider this a success.”
The healthier alternatives that made up 20 percent of beverage sales before the switch now amount to 50 percent of drink purchases, the hospital says.
Will Epic’s soda-free concept catch on at other tech companies?
“We just have coffee ... and beer,” said Gregory St. Fort, executive director of the 100State coworking community.
In fact, the local tech startups seem a lot more interested in supplying beer for their staff, with a number of them keeping brew on tap or in bottles in refrigerators, and some breaking from work early on Fridays so employees can relax and socialize with a cold one.
Three Madison startups are among seven young, high-tech businesses each in line for $75,000 matching grants through the Small Business Innovation Research Advance Program.
The three locals are C-Motive Technologies, Flex Compute and Thalchemy. The other four are Cell Reprogramming & Therapeutics, ConsortiEX, Intelligent Composites and Protein Foundry, all from the Milwaukee area.
The SBIR Advance Program is designed to help promising companies validate their technology and find customers in their efforts to bring their products to the market. The program is a collaboration funded by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and administered by the UW-Extension Center for Technology Commercialization.
Clean Water winners
Solar Water Works, Madison, and Veolia Water Milwaukee/OptiRTC, of Milwaukee and Boston, have been selected for funding to help bring their technologies to market through The Water Council’s Pilot Deployment Program.
Solar Water Works is developing a solar-powered, catalytic oxidation process to disinfect stormwater; Veolia Water Milwaukee/OptiRTC will control and monitor stormwater discharge.
The two companies will get matching funds to develop prototypes of their technologies and set up demonstration projects, as well as a chance for small-scale manufacturing of their products.
The program involves a partnership of The Water Council, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and the Fund for Lake Michigan.
New name for WITS(MD)
WITS(MD) has changed its name to ImageMoverMD. The company is developing medical image workflow solutions.