Purdue sees benefits for researchers, startups in connection with LEAP district
The president of the Purdue Research Foundation says the potential that the LEAP Innovation and Research District in Lebanon holds could be very beneficial for Purdue University.
The university is making no secret of its intent to be a major player in moving the district forward, serving as a bookend of a potential hard tech corridor that runs from West Lafayette through Lebanon to downtown Indianapolis.
Brian Edelman says there is a strong connection between LEAP and Purdue, which are only about a half hour away from each other, that could support future development.
Edelman told Inside INdiana Business Reporter Kylie Veleta the LEAP district offers a dimension of economic development that Purdue’s Discovery Park District doesn’t have.
“We started with about 400 acres, and LEAP will have thousands,” Edelman said. “So, many companies with large needs for land may come to Indiana that otherwise wouldn’t have because of LEAP. We believe that large footprint and economic development like the Lilly campus that’s going to be going in will be a great opportunity for researchers, students, collaborative research, the types of things that make Purdue valuable and are valuable to the companies that may be wanting to come to Indiana.”
Edelman says LEAP could be a magnet for companies to come and grow, particularly those that have a less than $150 million valuation and perhaps post-Series A.
“The rising tides raise all ships, and if we had a live, filled LEAP campus with a lot of different hard tech. You’ve got biotech. You might have semiconductors. You could have a lot of things going on with hypersonics. All of those create a test opportunity for startups to test their use case to refine their use case. I could see that a very thriving Lebanon LEAP could be a magnet that could attract those types of companies that have already started up, and that we could plant them in this state.”
Looking at the hard tech corridor on a map, the connection between Purdue and LEAP could be a golden opportunity to move people.
While I-65 is the focus of the corridor, Edelman said State Road 52, which runs almost parallel to I-65, could be a great way to travel using autonomous bus technology.
“Imagine a autonomous fleet of transports that are dropping off students, dropping off researchers and returning them up to Purdue in that about a 30-minute ride. It’s like it’s on campus,” he said. “So, the access to, whether it’s the Lilly campus or whatever maybe going into LEAP, it is a corridor. It’s connected. I just think it’s going to be a phenomenal opportunity for the companies that decide to go there and opportunity for students and research. It can really make Indiana stand apart.”
Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. broke ground last week on its $3.7 billion manufacturing campus, which will anchor the LEAP district and create about 700 jobs.
But much more development is being sought for the district, which is expected to span more than 9,000 acres. Indiana Economic Development Corp. Chief Operating Officer David Rosenberg told our partners at the IBJ that the agency is pursuing projects that could, in total, exceed $50 billion if they came to fruition.