‘Purdue Innovates’ launches one united IP commercialization and startup creation network
Building on world-renowned strength in innovation by its faculty, staff, students and alumni, the Purdue Research Foundation and Purdue University have formed Purdue Innovates, a comprehensive system to streamline access and strengthen support to both (a) technology commercialization resources, such as intellectual property licensing and protection, and (b) startup support resources, including programs and funds to launch, scale and invest in Purdue-connected startups in one cohesive structure.
In recent years, Purdue has consistently ranked among the world leaders in bringing innovation to the marketplace. As one of the nation’s most innovative universities and the only university ranked among the world’ top 50 most innovative companies or nonprofits, Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap. From world-class research that is foundational to drugs that receive FDA approval to Purdue-connected startups changing the world, Boilermakers think big and push the boundaries of innovation. That excellence at scale is why Purdue is ranked 6th in the world for the number of issued U.S. utility patents and the only university from the state of Indiana to be ranked among the top 50 patent-receivers, and has produced some of the most visible startups from the Midwest. Purdue innovates.
“Purdue Innovates streamlines and strengthens the ecosystem for Boilermaker innovators in two ways,” said Purdue President Mung Chiang. “One is the generation and licensing of intellectual properties such as patents, where we have continued to be among the nation’s best. The other is the creation of startup companies by our students, faculty and alumni, where we are rolling out new strategies and new funds, broadening outreach to alumni across the country, and simplifying an impactful support system for Boilermaker entrepreneurs. Purdue Innovates will elevate excellence at scale for both inventors and entrepreneurs.”
With multiple colleges ranked among the top 5 in the U.S. and the No. 1 undergrad STEM enrollment among America’s leading research universities, Purdue has long been the home for legendary inventors like Dr. Leslie Geddes and serial entrepreneurs like Dr. Philip Low.
“We wanted to create an ecosystem that embraced all Boilermakers by supporting both Purdue-owned intellectual property and startups that have their own intellectual property but have some other connection to Purdue, such as an alum,” said Brooke Beier, senior vice president of Purdue Innovates. “Solidifying the university core while engaging and leveraging the Boilermaker network is key to enhancing Purdue’s ability to become the preeminent university in commercialization and startup success.”
The Purdue Innovates network houses:
- Office of Technology Commercialization, where Purdue innovators disclose new ideas for evaluation for intellectual property protection and commercialization via licensing to industry and startups.
- Incubator, which consists of resources to 1) assist early-stage, Purdue-connected startups via programming and funding opportunities; and 2) de-risk Purdue innovations to increase the technology readiness level for licensing opportunities to industry and startups.
- Startup Foundry, which helps with funding, programs and services focused on getting investible Purdue-connected startups ready to raise first-round funding. The Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship is now part of the Startup Foundry.
- Purdue Ventures, which makes early-stage investments in Purdue-connected startups and gives guidance on raising capital to get startups late-stage funding and positioning them for an IPO or acquisition.
- The strength of Purdue’s existing commercialization and entrepreneurship efforts will continue and collaborate with the above units. These include:
- I-Corps, where Purdue is the Midwest hub’s co-lead
- Entrepreneurship certificate and courses
- Digital Innovation in Agriculture Systems Lab (DIAL)
- John Martinson Entrepreneurial Center (JMEC)
- Student organizations such as Anvil
- Key partnership programs like Silicon Valley Boilermaker Innovation Group (SVBig), High Alpha with DIAL, and others remain an integral part of the Purdue Innovates startup ecosystem, where they help advance and fund high-value startups.
By establishing this front door to the commercialization and startup creation ecosystem, it takes the guesswork away from entrepreneurs and innovators as to where to go for assistance, Beier said.
Purdue Innovates has developed a strategic plan that emphasizes the importance of collaboration, proactive investment in promising research and targeted outreach to key stakeholders through new initiatives and events at the university. Some examples include:
- Purdue University proactively reaches out to faculty members who have research with startup potential. To bridge the gap between research and commercialization, new funds will be created in the coming months. This will encourage the development of new ideas and facilitate the translation of research into real-world solutions. As one example, the John Martinson Entrepreneurial Center (JMEC) will partner with Purdue Innovates’ Purdue Ventures to manage the JMEC investment fund.
- To support Purdue alumni entrepreneurs, the Inaugural Entrepreneurial Alumni Reunion is added to the fall 2023 calendar. This entrepreneurship-themed event will take place in November, providing a platform for networking, collaboration and talent resources for startups, industry, alumni, investors, students and faculty. By building a community of Purdue entrepreneurs, Purdue Innovates is fostering future Boilermaker successes that will solve the world’s greatest challenges. Learn more about the event here: org/entrepreneurial-alumni-reunion
- Purdue Innovates will be promoted and communicated through new-student orientations and events like Boiler Gold Rush and new faculty orientation.
President Mung Chiang and Dr. Brooke Beier stand in front of the Patent Wall in Armstrong Hall during the National Medal of Science and Technology & Patent Wall Unveiling for Purdue College of Engineering in 2019. More than 750 patents by Purdue Engineering faculty were given prominence and recognition for their world-changing inventions. (Purdue University/Dave Mason)The success of Purdue Innovates is reliant on several key metrics.
- The impact on intellectual property generation and impact can be assessed through metrics like invention disclosures, licensed technologies, filed patents, issued patents and license income.
- For startup creation, metrics include the amount of private capital raised by startups formed by Purdue alumni, students and faculty, the number of successful Series A round companies, and the number of Purdue students hired by early-stage startups as interns or full-time employees.
A unified entrance for each part of Purdue Innovates:
- Intellectual Property Commercialization: Translating ideas into impact begins in the Office of Technology Commercialization, where Purdue innovators can file technology disclosures. Contact Disclose@prf.org to get started.
- Startup Creation: Whether validating and de-risking an idea in the Incubator, finding early-stage support in the Startup Foundry or securing investments through the Ventures team, Purdue Innovates is the entrepreneurial front door for faculty, students, alumni and investors. Contact Startups@purdue.edu to begin that journey.
Commercialization – IP Generation and licensing
Purdue University innovations can be found in all 50 U.S. states and in over 100 countries around the world. Millions of people benefit from the cutting-edge research that takes place at Purdue. The Office of Technology Commercialization is the conduit for Purdue research to create new markets, solve real-world problems and drive new revenue streams for current and future Purdue innovations.
Hundreds of Purdue innovations are licensed and optioned every year, and OTC has a streamlined process for licensing so a company can get a new product into market quickly. The team offers different types of licensing agreements where thousands of Purdue innovations are available – ranging from the world’s whitest paint and digital forestry to smart concrete and cancer therapies, to name a few.
Licensees of Purdue IP include companies large and small. For example, GeniPhys raised a $6 million Series A round, and the company was founded by Sherry Harbin, a Purdue professor who holds a joint appointment in the College of Engineering and College of Veterinary Medicine. GeniPhys’s polymerizable collagen innovation addresses unmet needs across a variety of potential markets after it worked with the Office of Technology Commercialization to license intellectual property.
Startup creation – entrepreneurship mentorship and investment
In 2013 the Purdue Foundry was launched by Purdue Research Foundation to amplify the impact of the intellectual property being developed at Purdue. It served as a hub for practical entrepreneurial support that helped Purdue entrepreneurs turn their ideas into successful businesses, taking their innovations out of the laboratory and academia and into the global market. Since the inception of Purdue Foundry, PRF has helped launch more than 350 companies, which raised more than $877 million.
Purdue was also ranked third nationally in startup creation by IPWatchdog Institute in 2020. Such resources led to many successes for Purdue-connected startups. For instance, Socio, a social media application developed by a group of Purdue University undergraduate students, including Joe Watkins, earned the founders a Forbes 30 Under 30 award in 2020. In July 2021, Cisco acquired Socio, now known as Webex Events.
“We are proud of our past accomplishments but strive to raise the bar a level higher,” Beier said. “We want to continue seeing Purdue technologies make an impact on the world via our commercialization and licensing partners, as well as our Purdue-connected startups receiving Series A investment and beyond, and our students getting exposure to startup internship and employment opportunities during their time on campus. Purdue Innovates is the culmination of all these past successes, and we will continue to build on them.”
What they’re saying at Purdue Innovates:
Brooke Beier, senior vice president of Purdue Innovates: “We want the Purdue community to see the real-world success stories of commercialization and entrepreneurship coming out of Purdue Innovates and be inspired to take on the process themselves.
“We will be here to assist in that journey, whether they choose to embark on it as a Purdue student, faculty member or later in their career as an alum. Boilermakers are some of the most loyal and entrepreneurial-minded alumni, and Purdue Innovates welcomes the opportunity to engage and discuss how it can assist with the mission to make Purdue the most preeminent university for technology commercialization and startup creation.”
Abhijit Karve, director of business development and licensing in the Office of Technology Commercialization: “The partnership between the various units of Purdue Innovates will be paramount to the success of getting Purdue technologies to market whether via industry or startups.”
Justin Renfrow, new director of Incubator: “I’m eager to bring my experience in product development and my enthusiasm for assisting early-stage technologies and startups to the Purdue Innovates team. The Incubator will play a key role at the top of the funnel for advancing technology readiness levels, startup creation and de-risking, and engagement with student startups.”
Tyler Mantel, new director of Startup Foundry: “We foster an environment of support for founders while cultivating meaningful and productive connections with investors and dedicated alumni mentors. By uniting Purdue founders, funders, and friends, we fuel the flight of innovation.”
Eric Steager, new director of Purdue Ventures: “Purdue Innovates has a clear and identified pathway from idea, through early scaling, to what I do in terms of early-stage investment. So it allows these companies to be better formed. Their pain points are articulated. They’re just in a better position for investment.”
To learn more about Purdue Innovates, where Boilermaker innovations and startups are forged, go to purdue.edu/innovates and explore your next giant leap.
About Purdue Research Foundation
Purdue Research Foundation supports Purdue University’s land-grant mission by helping the university improve the world through its technologies and graduates. Established in 1930, PRF is a private, nonprofit foundation that helps patent and commercialize Purdue technologies and builds places to encourage innovation, invention, investment, commercialization and entrepreneurship.