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Venture capitalists, Purdue innovations, startups establish winning combination for moving life-changing technologies to public

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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

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University will reach 275 startups within the coming fiscal year in startup creation. Providing strength and longevity to Purdue-affiliated startups is the more than $400 million dollars in support and investments the startups have brought to Indiana, much from venture capitalists.

“Venture capitalists are interested in companies with innovations that make an impact in the marketplace,” said Purdue alumnus Bruce Schechter, who co-founded Silicon Valley Boilermaker Innovation Group, SVBIG, to support Purdue’s startup creation.

According to the investment report “U.S. Startup Outlook 2019” by Silicon Valley Bank, 52% of startups’ funding comes from venture capitalists. The report states that VCs are entrepreneurs’ “go-to source for funding” and that VCs’ greatest interest is in startups developing technologies in artificial intelligence, big data, cybersecurity, life sciences and digital health.

“Those types of technologies are exactly what a research institution like Purdue excels in,” Schechter said. “That explains why they are and should be interested in investing in a university innovation.”

More than 100 countries around the globe use Purdue-patented technologies.

National and international corporations have invested $2.3 billion to acquire 10 Purdue startups, which are:

  • Endocyte Inc., a life sciences company, was acquired by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG for $2.1 billion in 2018.
  • Arxan Defense Systems, a cybersecurity and application security company, sold to Microsemi Corp. in 2010 for an undisclosed amount. In 2018, Microsemi was purchased by Microchip Technology for more than $10 billion.
  • BASi Bioanalytical Systems Inc., a medical contract research services company, joined operations with Seventh Wave Laboratories LLC in 2018.
  • DATTUS Inc., an IT company, sold to Plex Systems for an undisclosed amount in 2018.
  • Griffin Analytics, a mass spectrometry company, merged with ICx Technologies in 2006 and was later purchased as part of a package by FLIR Systems Inc. in 2010 for about $274 million.
  • Prosolia Inc., a mass spectrometry application company, was acquired in 2003 for $30 million by Waters Corp.
  • Spensa Technologies, a digital ag technology company, was sold for an undisclosed amount in 2019 to DTN.
  • PGC, Purdue GMC Center LLC a producer of non-sterile pharmaceutical products, was acquired in 2016 by Alan Chao, a Purdue alumnus and founder of Watson Pharmaceuticals.
  • SSCI Inc., a pharmaceutical product development company, was acquired by Aptuit Inc. in 2006 for an undisclosed amount. In 2015, AMRI acquired Aptuit for $60 million.
  • FWDNXT, a software and hardware startup, was acquired in by Micron Technology Inc. for an undisclosed amount in 2019.

All of the acquired companies were founded on Purdue-patented technologies. The respected IPWatchdog Institute recently published a report covering an 11-year period of technology commercialization activities that lists Purdue University as third in the U.S. for startup creation. The report collected data by AUTM over the period of 2008-18. The information is reported annually by members to AUTM, a nonprofit organization that collects technology transfer data, among other things, from more than 800 universities, research centers, hospitals and government organizations around the globe. IPWatchdog excluded the University of Texas System and the University of California System from its study because those schools report startup data that include the state’s collective results and not individual university results.

Purdue also is ranked 13th globally for utility patents during the 2019 calendar year in a report published annually by the National Academy of Inventors and Intellectual Property Owners Association.

“What this means is that Purdue is being extremely efficient in its patent-filing strategy and that when faculty scientists publish peer-reviewed articles, their research is highly likely to be disclosed, patented and become a product to help people,” said Brooke Beier, vice president of the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization. “As a land-grant university, Purdue’s greatest mission is to improve lives around the world and educate tomorrow’s leaders, and moving innovation to the market is an important part of that mission.”

Beier talks about the technology transfer process at Purdue at this video link.

The IPWatchdog report also recognized Purdue for its leadership and support for startups and for its societal impact through biotechnology innovations and economic development. In 2013, the Purdue Research Foundation created the Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub whose professionals have helped more than 300 entrepreneurs create startups.

“We are doing something that matters. Not just for Purdue but for all universities that strive to turn technologies into products with impact,” said Greg Deason, senior vice president of entrepreneurship and place making for Purdue Research Foundation. “In startup creation we are converting life-changing technologies to the market that create new jobs, new opportunities and new ways to positively impact our global society.”

Deason talks about the startup creation process at Purdue at this video link.

The Purdue Foundry has worked with nearly 300 startups that generated around $400 million in funding and investments generated and more than 350 new jobs since 2013.

Purdue also is recognized in the report for the number of startups that have been acquired by larger companies. As listed above, major national or international companies acquired 10 Purdue startups including Endocyte Inc., which was acquired in 2018 for $2.1 billion by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG.

Philip S. Low, the Purdue Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, is a co-founder of Endocyte and several other promising startups based on Purdue innovations. Among these startups are On Target Laboratories Inc., a company developing tumor-targeted fluorescent dyes to help surgeons “see” cancer cells during surgeries. Another startup founded by Low and son Stewart Low is Novosteo Inc. Novosteo is developing an injectable drug to accelerate bone fracture repair and strengthen weak bones. It has raised more than $3 million. A fourth company co-founded by Low, Umoja Biopharma, has recently raised $8 million in startup funds to develop a promising immunotherapy for cancer.

“Like many researchers at Purdue and elsewhere, our strongest desire is to improve lives, and the best way we can do that is by moving our inventions to the public,” Low said. “It’s not an easy process, but it’s highly rewarding to know at the end of the day you are helping people live longer, healthier and happier lives.”

To support continued growth, Purdue is undertaking Discovery Park District, a $1 billion-plus transformation of an area adjacent to its campus that includes strong support to advance research, partnerships with global companies and startup creation. In the past two years, the district has been actively involved with long-term research and development collaborations with Rolls-RoyceSchweitzer Engineering Laboratories and Saab Global Defense and Security.


Source: Venture capitalists, Purdue innovations, startups establish winning combination for moving life-changing technologies to public – Purdue University News

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