An interdisciplinary research park at Purdue University has topped $1 billion in generated sponsored research, private gifts and endowments. Discovery Park was launched in 2001 with a $26 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. Since then, hundreds of students and faculty members have taken part in research efforts in areas ranging from energy to cancer treatment and have seeded or assisted more than 50 new companies. In an interview to air this weekend on Inside INdiana Business Television, Executive Director Al Rebar and Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship Director Joe Pekny discuss the billion-dollar milestone.
May 2, 2014
West Lafayette, Ind. — An effort to focus and bolster interdisciplinary research activities just 13 years ago is now a $1 billion enterprise at Purdue University.
Discovery Park, launched in October 2001 with a $26 million grant from Lilly Endowment, has surpassed the $1 billion milestone based on the amount of generated sponsored research, private gifts and endowments, Purdue officials announced Friday (May 2).
“Discovery Park has reached a major milestone in surpassing the $1 billion mark through research expenditures, laboratory and equipment investment, and endowments,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. “The question going forward is how we can take this unique university model for impactful, interdisciplinary research to the next level.”
At Discovery Park, researchers tackle challenges in areas ranging from energy, cancer treatment, nanotechnology, drug discovery and the environment to health care, life sciences, and innovative learning in the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Graduate and undergraduate students work alongside some of the world's brightest research minds in advancing research. The Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship links campus activities with resources and expertise for advancing these ideas to the marketplace where they can have greater societal impact on changing people's lives.
Purdue has added nearly 150,000 square feet of research laboratory space, 100,000 square feet of office and meeting space, and $34 million worth of new laboratory and research equipment through Discovery Park.
And the five research and office buildings in Discovery Park – the Birck Nanotechnology Center, Bindley Bioscience Center, Mann Hall, Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, and the Hall for Discovery and Learning Research – will grow by two over the next few months with the opening of the Hall for Drug Discovery and the Multidisciplinary Cancer Research Facility.
To date, the economic impact of Discovery Park includes:
-$771.7 million in research expenditures through major centers since Discovery Park was launched, including 13 funded research projects exceeding $5 million each and eight multiyear proposals each exceeding $10 million.
-More than 1,000 affiliated faculty members, working with 300 graduate students, are engaged in the park, helping generate $83.9 million in funded research for 2012-13, or 25 percent of Purdue's entire annual research portfolio.
-Fifty-seven new companies seeded and/or assisted.
-426 disclosures, patents, licenses/options on intellectual property facilitated within the park, linking it to business startup activities at the nearby Purdue Research Park.
-211,500 hours of work provided by 540 students at 190 Indiana startup companies through its Interns for Indiana (IfI) program.
-More than 5,000 students have participated in entrepreneurial activities since the inception of Discovery Park.
-Forty strategic global partnerships have been signed.
-More than 1,300 students have received the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Recipients have come from every college and have an average cumulative GPA at or higher than 3.0.
“Our faculty and students are key players in a world that demands better-prepared employees for the workforce, a more dynamic mechanism to get research to the marketplace faster and stronger U.S. research institutions to compete in the global fields of science and technology,” said Discovery Park executive director Alan Rebar, senior associate vice president for research.
“Through Discovery Park and the impact of its first 12 years, Purdue is responding to these demands.”
With a $26 million lead grant from the Lilly Endowment, the state's largest philanthropic organization, significant funding was received to help Purdue launch the Birck Nanotechnology Center, Bindley Bioscience Center, Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship and the e-Enterprise Center during Discovery Park's first phase in 2001-02. Formation of the Discovery Learning Research Center came shortly thereafter.
Through a second Lilly Endowment grant totaling $25 million in January 2005, Purdue nearly doubled Discovery Park's size, adding the Cyber Center, Energy Center, Center for Environment and Oncological Sciences Center. In addition, Purdue committed to raising $3 million for an endowment for additional financial support for the six existing centers.
Additional core centers in Discovery Park today include the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering, Center for Global Food Security, Purdue Climate Change Research Center, Center for Predictive Materials and Devices and the Purdue Center for Drug Discovery.
“The Endowment initially was intrigued with the multidisciplinary character of the vision for Discovery Park,” said Sara Cobb, vice president for education at Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment. “This unique character held great promise for bringing together so many of Purdue's considerable strengths. We are pleased to see how that promise has been realized.”
Discovery Park plays a lead role in developing young faculty and researchers at Purdue, offering valuable programs, collaborations, workshops, mentoring and training to advance large-scale research across disciplines and moving research from the lab to the marketplace.
“Purdue has not only created a culture where faculty all across campus can work and develop in research-driven centers but also continues to invest and advance this unique model,” said biomedical engineering professor Sherry Voytik-Harbin, a Discovery Park fellow in 2014. “That place is Discovery Park, where faculty members, students and researchers from other universities or industry are coming together to achieve new goals and solve challenges that make a difference in our world.”
Discovery Park's success also stems from the connections it fosters between student and teacher. With its interdisciplinary focus, particularly in the STEM areas, Discovery Park uses the power of that connection to establish stronger ties at the local, state, national and global levels to address the major challenges facing our world today.
“The park also is providing Purdue with modern, state-of-the-art research facilities for helping educate students,” said Gen Kruzick, an undergraduate student in foods and nutrition from Winamac, Indiana, a 2013 participant in the Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program. “While we're learning the subject matter of our specific disciplines, we're learning to use it and apply it in an interdisciplinary way, adding tremendous value to our Purdue experience and positioning us for exciting careers moving forward.”
Doctoral student D?sir?e White-Schenk works with James Leary, the School of Veterinary Medicine Endowed Professor of Nanomedicine, on a nanoparticle for helping treat spinal cord injuries. White-Schenk selected Purdue for her doctoral studies in biomedical engineering and nanomedicine largely because of state-of-the-art research facilities, such as Discovery Park's Birck Nanotechnology Center, and the opportunity to study alongside Leary. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons) Download Photo
“The buildings, the laboratories, the quality of the research – all have been