Purdue officials report increases in research funding, technology commercialization

February 11, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue officials reported double-digit increases in research funding and the number of new companies created from Purdue technologies in a report presented Thursday (Feb. 11) to the university's board of trustees.

Richard O. Buckius, Purdue's vice president for research, reported a record $342.2 million in sponsored research programs for fiscal year 2008-09. That represents an 18 percent increase in federal support and a 2.2 percent increase in industry research support from the previous year.

Joseph Hornett

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Joseph B. Hornett, senior vice president, treasurer and COO of Purdue Research Foundation, reported a 50 percent increase in new companies created from university technologies for calendar year 2008. The number of new startups created from Purdue technologies went from eight in 2007 to 12 in 2008.

"Purdue is one of the country's premier institutions for education and research, and it is critical that we continue to be a leader in discovery, developing new technologies and moving those technologies to the public," Buckius said. "Our students benefit from sponsored research funding through the education and opportunities they receive by learning from, and being part of, a research team of experts working in their fields of study.

Richard Buckius

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"Our faculty benefit because it provides them with the latest facilities and laboratory equipment to develop technologies that can help us address society's challenges and improve the quality of life around the world."

Many of Purdue's research programs already align with areas of national and international need including:

* Life and health sciences

* Energy, environment, water and climate change

* Security, defense and space sciences

* Cyber/information technology

* Science, technology, engineering and mathematics education

"The discoveries have a real-world impact and have led to better ways to treat cancer, improve nutrition, create new fuel sources, fight terrorism, protect our food supply and more," Hornett said. "For example Cook Biotech, a Purdue Research Park-based company, has helped more than half a million people around the globe heal from traumatic wounds, whether they are children burned by a hot cup of coffee or soldiers serving in Iraq or Afghanistan."

These endeavors mirror the university's goals, which include advancing the frontiers of knowledge, creating technologies that address global challenges and improving the quality of life for people.

"To achieve these goals, we are focused on strategies that include nurturing discipline-based research, continuing to foster interdisciplinary research, enhancing our infrastructure, developing strategic alliances with governmental and corporate partners, and further developing leadership through our faculty and staff," Buckius said.

Sponsored research funding not only helps students, faculty and staff discover new technologies, but also supports moving Purdue's discoveries to the market where they create new companies and jobs, Hornett said.

"There is a strong correlation between overall commercialization activity in relationship to the level of research expenditures," he said. "In times of economic hardship, we need to support research funding at the state and national levels because it provides a foundation for economic growth and helps keep Purdue and the nation as a global leader in technological discoveries."

The Purdue Research Foundation's Office of Technology Commercialization works with faculty and staff to patent and license Purdue's discoveries. Currently, there are more than 250 Purdue technologies available for licensing.

"We have a successful track record of moving our discoveries from the laboratory to the market, and it completes the cycle of 'Discovery with Delivery' in the university's strategic plan," Hornett said. "In the past few years, our Office of Technology Commercialization has met or exceeded our Big Ten peer institutions' averages in technology commercialization when compared to our research expenditures."

According to 2008 Big Ten data, for every $100 million of research expenditures, Purdue ranks first in invention disclosures, new patent applications, and number of license and option agreements. Purdue exceeds the Big Ten new patent application average by 94 percent and the license and option agreement average by 113 percent. A patent application refers to a new discovery being patented through the U.S. Patent Office. A license or option agreement means that a private or public company has paid to license or option to license a technology.

The Purdue Research Park, which is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, has created 81 new companies from Purdue-discovered technologies in the past 10 years. About 3,700 people work in the nearly 200 companies in the park's four locations, earning an average annual wage of $54,000. 

Writer: Cynthia Sequin, 765-588-3340, casequin@prf.org

Sources:   Joseph B. Hornett, 765-588-3342, jbhornett@prf.org

                   Richard O. Buckius, 765-494-6209, rbuckius@purdue.edu