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Purdue Research Foundation Creates $15M Fund for Life Sciences Start-ups

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October 18-20, 2023 / Tucson, AZ
The annual summit for research institution gap fund and accelerator programs, including proof of concept programs, startup accelerators, and university venture funds

The Story

Purdue Research Foundation and Cook Medical have created a $12 million evergreen investment fund to financially support life science startup companies tied to Purdue University.

The Foundry Investment Fund, announced Tuesday, will be used to match outside donations to fund companies based on Purdue technology or expertise in the fields of human and animal health and plant sciences.

Mark Bleyer, president of West Lafayette-based Cook Biotech Inc.,said the move builds on the company’s track record of “commercializing life-changing medical innovations that originated at Purdue.”

“It’s truly a joint effort by both groups,” Bleyer said. “We’ve been partners a long time. This is just another step in that partnership.”

Officials hope the fund will encourage more venture capital firms, corporations and qualified individuals to throw their financial support behind research at Purdue. The fund is expected to be self-sustaining.

Mike Hiles, vice president of research and the company’s chief scientific officer, recalled a company he and Umesh Patel, another Cook Biotech vice president, formed after graduating from Purdue. That company later flourished with the support of Cook.

“We became part of this company,” Hiles said. “We’re at least going to help people do that again with other companies. It’s going to be easier to find funds. We’re kind of paying it forward, allowing other people to do some of the same things.”

Cook Biotech, located in Purdue Research Park, was established in 1995 and develops and manufactures biologic tissue grafts engineered from natural tissue sources, according to the company. The company estimates its medical products have been used globally in more than 1.5 million surgical repairs.

Bleyer said any companies supported by the fund will continue running independent of Cook.

“Cook is not going to be owning any of these companies,” Bleyer said. “This is certainly venture money, and the companies will be able to run themselves.”

An oversight board will be formed consist of members selected by Purdue Research Foundation and Cook. When a donation is made to support a startup, the oversight board that will determine whether to match up to 30 percent of those funds.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels said the fund will help innovators move their technologies from research labs to the marketplace.

“Converting Purdue innovation into new products, companies and jobs is perhaps the most valuable way for our university to live up to its land-grant heritage and contribute to the progress of our state,” Daniels said.

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