A Purdue University professor, who is also chief technology officer of a company that helps people with Parkinson's disease communicate more effectively, is the winner of this year's Outstanding Commercialization Award for Purdue Faculty. Jessica Huber and SpeechVive Inc.'s technology were profiled in May in our Life Sciences Indiana e-newsletter. November 19, 2014

News Release

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Jessica E. Huber, a professor in Purdue University's Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, is the 2014 recipient of the Outstanding Commercialization Award for Purdue University Faculty.

The award is given annually to a faculty member in recognition of outstanding contributions to, and success with, commercializing Purdue research discoveries. It was established with an endowment gift from the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership Foundation.

Huber is chief technology officer of SpeechVive Inc., a company whose behind-the-ear smart device helps people with Parkinson's disease speak more loudly and communicate more effectively. It is available at 19 locations throughout the U.S. A video about SpeechVive is available at http://youtu.be/ybNZkCk_ex8.

Huber developed the technology based on her research to improve communication and the quality of life in older adults and people with degenerative motor diseases.

“I was interested in respiratory control for speech. One of the ways to tax the respiratory system is to ask people to talk louder. I was interested in whether the way we ask them to talk louder would change what they actually did,” she said. “People with Parkinson's disease have problems with speaking loudly, and I thought it would be an interesting patient population to study this question, along with typical speakers. That was my introduction to Parkinson's disease and how patients speak.”

Huber received her Ph.D. in speech science from the University at Buffalo – State University of New York in 2001 and joined Purdue's Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences that fall. She is a member of the American Speech Language Hearing Association, the Society for Neuroscience and the Movement Disorder Society. She is associate editor for the Journal of Communication Disorders and serves on the board of directors for iSWIM Masters and Wabash Disc Golf Club.

Huber is the 12th recipient of the Outstanding Commercialization Award, which includes a $5,000 stipend. Previous recipients are Mikhail Atallah, Lonnie Bentley, Stephen R. Byrn, Alok Chaturvedi, R. Graham Cooks, Peter Kissinger, Philip Low, Karthik Ramani, Fred Regnier, George Wodicka and the late Leslie A. Geddes.

“The people who previously received the award are amazing entrepreneurs. They are people whom I look up to and contact for advice,” Huber said. “I'm honored to be in the company of the people who have won before, and I'm humbled to be the first woman to win.”

Huber said the entrepreneurial environment at Purdue has been critical to her success.

“I received early financial support from Purdue, and the Entrepreneurial Leadership Program at the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship taught me the basics. The College of Health and Human Sciences and my department supported me when I began commercializing my work, which was critical. Engineers from the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering built the first-generation device, and George Wodicka was supportive of their efforts,” she said.

“I have learned so much from Purdue Foundry, and being part of the SV BIG program was fantastic for SpeechVive. Dan Hasler, president of Purdue Research Foundation, provided leadership that enhanced and accelerated our ability to go to market, and the Office of Technology Commercialization has worked hard to protect the intellectual property and license it to SpeechVive.”

Huber said Purdue faculty and staff who are considering entrepreneurship need to learn about the process and be fully committed to moving their product forward.

“Alyssa Panitch, the Leslie A. Geddes Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering, gave me that advice. People may not know how much work entrepreneurship is. They can find resources about business and entrepreneurship at Purdue, and I guide them to Purdue Foundry and the Entrepreneurial Academy,” she said. “Also, an entrepreneur faculty member needs a group of people who are experts to help sell the vision. You have to trust them to do what they do instead of being a micromanager.”

Source: Purdue Research Foundation

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