updated: 12/22/2003 6:52:02 AM

Purdue Recognized For Founding Top Incubator Model in U.S.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University, creator of the largest university affiliated, high-tech business incubation program in the United States, is cited in the December issue of University Business magazine for establishing the nation's top incubator model.

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Since the Purdue Research Foundation created the Purdue Research Park's first incubator in 1993, the incubation program has launched more than 40 new companies in information technology, biomedical engineering, advanced manufacturing technology and software development.

"The goal of these efforts is to attract knowledge-based businesses to the Purdue Research Park, to launch new startups powered by Purdue generated innovation and to cultivate high-tech collaborations with Purdue University," said Joseph Hornett, senior vice president and treasurer of the Purdue Research Foundation. "Achieving these objectives, we believe, will lead to the production of successful firms that bring in out-of-state revenue, bolstering Indiana's economy."

Hornett said this new business venture creation also benefits Purdue because it fuels the recruitment of top-notch faculty researchers and ensures that university graduates will have access to quality high-tech jobs in Indiana.

Purdue Research Park's incubation complex comprises five complementary facilities, including three startup business incubator buildings totaling 102,000 square feet and three graduation facilities totaling 130,000 square feet. The largest incubator facility in the complex, the Purdue Technology Center, operates at 90 percent occupancy. It also generates enough income to fund services and staff.

The park added 23 new firms to its incubation roster over the past two years. They were cultivated by the foundation's Office of Park Development and the Purdue Gateways Program, two initiatives designed to provide growing high-tech ventures with a supportive environment of equipment, services and resources offered at a reasonable cost.

The park development office provides client firms with marketing and media relations expertise; human resources assistance, including employee recruitment; connections to technical expertise; access to sophisticated lab instruments via Purdue's Recharge Centers, where equipment can be used at comparatively low cost; some administrative assistance; conference room and videoconferencing facilities; shared accounting/financial management services; and access to high-quality business equipment.

The Purdue Gateways Program, a university initiative, works alongside the park development office to provide new ventures with vital links between product research and commercial application. It also offers tangible assistance to significantly reduce the entrepreneur's time, effort and resources used to commercialize a product, service or process.

"We are finding that one element distinguishing the Purdue Gateways Program from many others is a solid emphasis on the actual mechanics of new venture creation," said Sam Florance, Purdue Gateways Program director and associate vice provost for engagement. "We try to bring the necessary resources into the picture, but we also have the specific skills to assist our client firms in the solving of real problems arising from the very uncertain business of launching new ventures. We assist in the characterization of targeted market environments, the negotiation of financing and investment agreements, and coach our clients in a variety of organizational development issues."

Purdue Gateways Program staff offers day-to-day counsel on organizational development, financial resource management, networking and the market analysis necessary to compete in the modern marketplace. A task force of accountants, attorneys, bankers and other professionals also provide advice on the progress made by Gateways' client firms.

"Once they begin to gain early traction in their markets, most new entrepreneurs are on unfamiliar ground when their firms begin growing at between 100 percent and 500 percent per year," Florance said. "We try to help them chart a path through each unexpected challenge."

Since Purdue programs in engineering, science, technology, management, pharmacy and agriculture consistently rank high in national polls, entrepreneurs benefit from Purdue's renewable source of new technologies upon which startups can be based.

In addition, the park serves as the development arena for innovations that emerge from Purdue's Discovery Park, where five new interdisciplinary centers are planned. Centers already under construction include the Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurship Center, the Bindley Bioscience Center and the Birck Nanotechnology Center. Future plans call for the Discovery Learning Center and an e-enterprise center. The center will create opportunities to educate students, faculty and staff to bring research to the marketplace, ensuring a continuous pipeline of innovation that emerges from Purdue. Innovations then can find a nurturing environment to grow in the Purdue Research Park.

A synergy of life sciences ventures within the Purdue Research Park has led to the development of the Allen Chao Center for Industrial Pharmacy, a $5.3 million center within the park that will manufacture "legacy drugs," pharmaceuticals that are in demand but on a lesser scale than well-known, first-choice medications. The center is expected to attract high-tech jobs to the state, both for the Purdue facility and for new companies in the research park that will take advantage of the center's manufacturing capabilities. Purdue industrial pharmacy students will benefit from training on FDA policy within a working manufacturing facility.

In 2003, Purdue Research Park was designated as the state's first Certified Technology Park by the Indiana Department of Commerce (IDOC). Shortly thereafter, the IDOC's first regional office was established at the park to assist high-tech ventures as they look for state funding, including tax incentives and Indiana 21st Century Fund grants.

The Purdue Research Park is home to 104 companies that employ more than 2,200 people.

Source: Purdue University

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