Purdue University is celebrating a milestone in startup creation reached last year. The university says it has reached 223 startups with more than $350 million in funding and investments generated, as well as more than 300 new jobs. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Purdue Research Foundation Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Placemaking Greg Deason said the rise in startup activity followed a challenge by President Mitch Daniels shortly after he took office.
“Quite specifically, we responded to that by creating the Purdue Foundry and Purdue Ventures, which are providing resources to help people with big ideas take those forward, but we also, through our office of tech commercialization here at Purdue, did a number of things to make it easier for people to license our technologies,” said Deason. “Those were the backdrops, but we had made a deliberate decision that we were going to make a bigger impact in commercialization.”
Purdue says 130 of the startups have licensed Purdue University intellectual property, with the remainder being affiliated with Purdue in some way and/or based on company-owned intellectual property. Deason says more than 60 of the startups are founded and owned by Purdue students and more than 180 of them remain based in Indiana.
A few Purdue startups were acquired in 2018, including the drug development company Endocyte Inc., which was acquired by Switzerland-based Novartis AG in a $2.1 billion deal. Deason says one of the main ways to build on the recent success is to make sure those startups have everything they need to be successful.
“When you look at startup dynamics, it generally starts with a big idea but you’ve got to surround yourself with teams and the right kinds of talent, the right kinds of capital, in order for you to have a shot at going forward,” said Deason. “We’re going to be doing all that we can within our power, not only within the university itself, but within the alumni base. That’s a piece of what we do and with that specifically, we want to see more companies like Endocyte that have an opportunity to partner and be acquired with a larger company that can take their idea forward.
Deason says the expansion of the Purdue Discovery Park District will continue to support entrepreneurs and innovators going forward. He says the university is setting the stage to become a global leader in commercialization.
“As we continue to build momentum here and see additional startups with success and growth and companies working with Purdue, I think we’re going to see continued growth of companies that want to choose to be in Indiana,” said Deason. “Indiana’s already a great business environment and when you couple that with the capability and the talent and the ideas and the resources that Purdue is putting forward through the Discovery Park District and through the foundry and Purdue Ventures and the office of tech commercialization, I think it sets the stage for dramatic growth.”