Table of Contents

Delivering as an engine for economic development

Large-scale research drives company, job creation

Through Discovery Park, its industry partnerships and link to Purdue Research Park, Purdue is changing how a 21st century university translates research more quickly into viable commercial products and processes - and how that same research creates jobs and sparks the overall economy.

These efforts are helping address the challenges for affordable health care, alternative energy, nanoscale devices, biomarkers, entrepreneurship, cancer diagnostic and treatment, manufacturers, the life sciences and innovative learning for grades P-12.

"Purdue is an energizer for the state's economy," says Richard O. Buckius, Purdue's vice president for research. "Our faculty are creating new businesses and providing quality, high-tech jobs for Indiana, the Midwest, the nation and the world. We are collaborating with existing businesses to make them more competitive globally. Our model for discovery with an emphasis on delivery is working and gaining national and international momentum."

As one of Indiana's largest employers, Purdue contributes $2.2 billion to the state's economy annually. Through Discovery Park, Purdue is delivering on its land-grant mission by turning its large-scale interdisciplinary research efforts into an engine for the state and region's economy. To date, Discovery Park, with its $200 million in new facilities, equipment and laboratories, has:

  • Helped generate more than 40 patents based on Purdue research.
  • Assisted in the startup of 44 companies.
  • Developed strategic collaborations with approximately 100 corporate partners.

"Universities that are going to succeed and succeed well into the future are those that have torn down the silos - that allow faculty across disciplines to work together," says Joseph H. Hornett, senior vice president, treasurer and chief operating officer of the Purdue Research Foundation. "And, of course, because of Discovery Park, that's happening at Purdue University."

Collaborating with the Purdue Research Foundation, Discovery Park has created the $1.5 million Emerging Innovations Fund, which will provide funding support for early-stage technologies at the Purdue Research Park through small, finite grants.

Discovery with Delivery

Purdue Research Park employs 4,000 people in 216 companies, including 90 technology-based firms. The park was ranked the nation's best university research park in 2005, in part for its success in nurturing startups. It also was Indiana's first certified technology park.

The Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute is a prime example of how Purdue and Indiana University are working together in the life sciences field. This effort will bring $25 million to the state the next five years to improve the process by which the laboratory discoveries of basic science are transformed into new medical treatments and products.

"CTSI's mission is to effectively deliver that research so that it can have a positive impact on people's lives. And this partnership with IU will help Purdue establish stronger links in other important research areas."

Professor Jerry Woodall works with doctoral student Charles Allen on hydrogen-driven alternative energy project.

Entrepreneurial minded students present business plan at annual competition.

The Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering, which was named a major center in the park in 2008, has formed partnerships with national hospitals and organizations and has tackled nearly 30 projects since its 2005 launch with a $3 million gift from the Regenstrief Foundation.

To date, Regenstrief's research helped launch the Indiana Patient Safety Center in 2007 and expanded funding opportunities for a statewide telehealth effort. Regenstrief led the 2008 launch of the Indiana Center for Assistive Technology in partnership with the Family and Social Services Administration's Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services Indiana. The center also assisted in a project with the Indiana State Department of Health that outlined potential communication and response gaps with the state's 92 county health departments in the event of a pandemic outbreak.

Pipeline to Commercialization

Discovery Park, Purdue's on-campus initiative to bring innovation through interdisciplinary action, is changing how a 21st century university translates viable research into viable commercial products in areas ranging from biomedicine and pharmaceuticals to nanotechnology and biotechnology

Purdue's commercialization efforts in biomedical technologies, for example, gained international attention when the university received a $100 million endowment to create the Alfred Mann Institute for Biomedical Development.

Since its launch in 2001, Discovery Park has received more than $250 million in funding for sponsored research, assisted in the launch of 44 companies, and has generated more than 40 patents. Its modern research equipment and facilities are prompting companies to inquire about how partnering with Purdue will help them gain a competitive advantage.

From a vaccine that fights bird flu to nanostructured surfaces for improving artificial joints, many innovations that emerge from Discovery Park find their business legs at Purdue Research Parks. With locations across Indiana - in West Lafayette, Indianapolis, Merrillville and New Albany - the 1,200-acre Purdue Research Park network is home to more than 216 companies, of which 100+ are technology related.

Purdue Research Parks currently operates nearly 500,000 square feet of high-tech incubation space, where company growth is accelerated through award-winning business development support. Since the late 1990s, the research parks have launched nearly 60 technology ventures, including several focused on drug development, tissue-engineering and medical-device development.

Impact on Delivery

Since its launch in 2001, Discovery Park has provided a platform for driving Purdue's pursuit of funding for large-scale interdisciplinary research projects. Here is a list of success stories through Discovery Park that demonstrate how teamwork on a university campus is making a difference in the world of discovery:

Purdue-led C3Bio video in running for DOE People's Choice Award

A bioenergy research initiative led by Purdue University has released a video that highlights its efforts to advance how liquid fuels and high-value bioproducts are made from non-food plant biomass.

The video for the Center for Direct Catalytic Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels, known as C3Bio, was submitted as part of a People's Choice Award competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science Energy Frontier Research Centers program, said C3Bio project manager Carl Huetteman.

The three-minute Purdue video, "Moving from Petroleum to Plants to Energize our World," can be viewed at To vote for the video in the DOE competition, go to Videos produced by other universities participating in the Energy Frontier Research Centers program also can be found at the website, Huetteman said.

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Endocyte awarded patent for vitamin receptor binding drug delivery conjugates

Officials at Endocyte Inc., a cancer drug discovery and development company, announced Tuesday (Oct. 27, 2009) that the company has been awarded a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office covering vitamin receptor binding anticancer agents.

The patent, entitled "Vitamin Receptor Binding Drug Delivery Conjugates" (U.S. Patent No. 7,601,332), covers novel conjugation linkages and anticancer agents, including Endocyte's EC145, which is currently in development as a potential treatment for ovarian and non-small cell lung cancers.

The patent represents years of research into Endocyte's groundbreaking technology that links potent anticancer agents to receptor binding moieties on the surfaces of cells. The technology utilizes a proprietary "linker" technology that connects the anticancer agent to the appropriate receptor binding moiety to form a conjugate. The moiety enables the conjugate to remain stable while in circulation and be delivered selectively into cancer cells. The novel "linker" causes the anticancer agent to be released in its intact and fully active form within the cells. This patented combination of targeting moiety-linker-drug conjugates describe a number of Endocyte conjugates, including its lead drug candidate, EC145, which uses the vitamin folate as the targeting moiety and which is currently in Phase 2 clinical trials.

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Findings show nanomedicine promising for treating spinal cord injuries

Researchers at Purdue University have discovered a new approach for repairing damaged nerve fibers in spinal cord injuries using nano-spheres that could be injected into the blood shortly after an accident.

The synthetic "copolymer micelles" are drug-delivery spheres about 60 nanometers in diameter, or roughly 100 times smaller than the diameter of a red blood cell.

Researchers have been studying how to deliver drugs for cancer treatment and other therapies using these spheres. Medications might be harbored in the cores and ferried to diseased or damaged tissue.

Purdue researchers have now shown that the micelles themselves repair damaged axons, fibers that transmit electrical impulses in the spinal cord.

"That was a very surprising discovery," said Ji-Xin Cheng, professor in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Chemistry. "Micelles have been used for 30 years as drug-delivery vehicles in research, but no one has ever used them directly as a medicine."

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Purdue-IU led team wins global entrepreneurship competition

GlucaGo LLC, a life sciences company led by a trio from Purdue and Indiana universities, captured the 2009 Global Idea to Product Competition and claimed the $10,000 top prize, beating 14 other teams that qualified by winning local competitions.

The Global I2P entrepreneurship event, held Oct. 30 and 31 in Austin, Texas, featured teams from 19 universities and eight countries - Great Britain, Portugal, Japan, Sweden, Germany, Ireland and Brazil, and U.S. competitors from Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado and New Hampshire.

In addition to winning the McCombs School of Business Global Championship category, GlucaGo received the Best Showcase overall award for developing an emergency kit that automatically mixes and injects medication for diabetics. Leading the GlucaGo team are Rush Bartlett, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering at Purdue who also is completing an MBA at IU; Arthur Chlebowski, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering at Purdue; and Peter Greco, who is pursuing an MBA from Purdue.

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C3BIO aims efforts at energy from biomass

Liquid transportation fuels are a major component of the U.S. energy sector. A billion tons of lignocellulosic biomass is an annually renewable and carbon-neutral resource of home-grown energy available from U.S. agriculture and forestry. However, for biofuels to contribute strongly in an energy portfolio diversified from dependence on foreign and finite oil, we need to make revolutionary advances in the production efficiencies by which carbon in the biomass can be converted into liquid hydrocarbons and other energy-rich molecules and bio-based products.

In C3Bio, we are using recent advances in the science of catalysis, nanotechnology, chemical engineering, materials science, and molecular biology to engineer both the nanoscale properties of biomass materials as well as catalytic conversion pathways. We aim to enable the replacement of oil refineries with next-generation hydrocarbon refineries.

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Glytrix, TerraSolutions take top honors at 23rd annual business-plan competition

Student-led companies that develop consumer products from the byproducts of ethanol production and a tissue-healing technology that also reduces scarring took top honors at Purdue University's 23rd annual $100,000 Burton D. Morgan Business Plan Competition.

Glytrix, which has developed a platform technology for tissue healing and regeneration that also minimizes scarring, received $30,000 for its victory in the Gold Division. The team is led by Joshua Cox, John Paderi, Alyssa Panitch and Kate Stuart.

TerraSolutions LLC, led by brothers Jacob and Matthew Smoker of LaPorte, Ind., won the $20,000 top prize in the Black Division for undergraduate students. The company is developing a biodegradable, cork-like material for flooring, insulation and other uses from the waste and byproducts of ethanol production.

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Contact Information By Audience

Contact information at the end of each chapter has been created to direct our audience - students, faculty, partners, and visitors - in their efforts to connect with the right person to discuss areas of potential involvement in Discovery Park activities. Related Web sites link visitors to programs at Discovery Park.

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The Overview chapter offers a glimpse at the unique features, the latest news, building locations and contact information for Discovery Park.


Learn about how research has been reinvented at Discovery Park, how collaborations among scientists and stakeholders are seeking solutions to grand challenges, and the impacts of discovery.


Discovery Park is delivering on Purdue's land-grant mission to serve the people of Indiana and the nation. Large-scale research drives economic development in a knowledge economy and Discovery Park is the engine.


Activities at Discovery Park transform people's lives. Undergraduates gain hands-on research experience, business plan competitions nurture a new generation of entrepreneurs, and innovative diagnostic tools detect early stages of disease.


To meet today's grand challenges, a spectrum of partnerships are forming at Discovery Park -- international partners, partnerships with foundations, institutions and industry all contribute to advancing learning and research.