Oliver Wendt, at right, assists Steve Rettig of Lafayette, Indiana, and his son, Stevie, 7, with using SPEAKall! and SPEAKmore! Both are iPAD applications that help families dealing with nonverbal autism improve communication. Wendt, a Purdue professor of speech, language and hearing sciences, co-founded SPEAKMODALities LLC in 2014 to commercialize advanced versions of the technology. (Purdue Research Foundation photo/Oren Darling) Download Photo
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University had record-breaking numbers in commercialization activities highlighted by 24 startups based on Purdue intellectual property, tripling the previous year's number, Purdue Research Foundation officials announced Thursday (July 10). This and other existing Purdue startups drew more than $20 million in publicly announced funding last year.
The growth trend for the 2014 fiscal year is reflected in other substantive increases in commercialization activities through Purdue's Office of Technology Commercialization including 146 U.S. and global issued patents, representing a more than 30 percent increase over the previous year; and 120 licensing deals of Purdue intellectual property with startups and established companies, for an increase of more than 20 percent over the prior year. About two-thirds of the technologies resulting in this year’s startups were born of Purdue's Discovery Park programs, which this year surpassed more than $1 billion in funding invested in research and facilities.
"As Indiana's land-grant university, one of Purdue's most important missions is to move its innovations to the public where they can improve lives, drive Indiana's economy and create jobs for Hoosiers," said Purdue University President Mitch Daniels. "Purdue faculty, staff and students are some of the most creative and hardworking individuals in the world. Over the past 18 months we made several policy changes to create a climate of entrepreneurship and deliberate innovation."
Ian Klein, a graduate student in Purdue’s Department of Chemistry, helped found Spero Energy Inc. in 2014, a company using wood biomass to benefit commercial producers of cellulosic ethanol. Klein works as a research scientist for Spero. (Purdue Research Foundation photo/Oren Darling) Download Photo
Pu Wang, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering, was new to the entrepreneurial arena when he helped found and became chief technology officer for Vibronix Inc., one of Purdue's 2014 startups.
"Two years ago I was on a career path to be a tenured faculty member and didn't even think about pursuing something different," he said. "Then I started hearing about all the entrepreneurial opportunities at Purdue. At that time, I was researching a technology that provides advanced imaging that could predict the risk of a heart attack with more precision than other devices currently on the market.
"I started thinking about licensing and commercializing this technology, so I went over and talked with the Purdue Foundry folks. It changed my future. My advisor and I were their first clients, and the assistance we received helped us create Vibronix."
"Through Purdue, we already provide a free, basic iPad app called SPEAKall! to help children and families dealing with autism communicate at a basic level. The success of this technology and a demand for enhanced features encouraged us to create a premium version to facilitate speech and language development in autism at an even greater level," Wendt said. "To make this happen, we received a multitude of help from various Purdue resources including business plan development, marketing assistance, funding, publicity and alumni mentorship. Without this help, I'm not sure we would have moved forward as quickly as we have."
Many of the new startups moved into the Purdue Research Park network where they receive support in human resources, marketing and publicity, in addition to a business center and other available resources. The Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette welcomed 15 new companies in the past year, driving an occupancy rate of nearly 91 percent. Other Purdue Research Park sites across Indiana experienced increases in occupancy as well. Merrillville welcomed nine new tenants, Indianapolis six and New Albany three.
"It's been a great year for commercialization and Purdue innovation, and we expect 2015 to replicate or surpass last year's growth," said Dan Hasler, president and chief entrepreneurial officer of the Purdue Research Foundation. "These enterprises can only be successful through the continued involvement of the Purdue innovators and leaders, our alumni, the surrounding community, and state.
"We are only going to see more value-creating liquidity events for Purdue companies like Arxan in the future."
TA Associates, a leading Boston-based private equity firm, completed a major investment in Arxan Technologies Inc. in September 2013. Arxan was co-founded in 2001 by Mikhail Atallah, a Purdue Distinguished Professor of Computer Science. The company has developed software protection that is used in more than 200 million computing devices.
For more information about available leadership positions, investing in a Purdue startup or licensing a Purdue innovation, visit PurdueFoundry.com
About Purdue Research Foundation
The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. The foundation manages the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, Purdue Research Park and Purdue Technology Centers. The foundation received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year from the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship and strong business support system.