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May 9, 2013

Purdue Profiles: Dan Hasler

Dan Hasler, PRF

Dan Hasler, president and chief entrepreneurial officer of Purdue Research Foundation. (Purdue Research Foundation photo)
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As Indiana’s former commerce secretary, Dan Hasler joined Purdue to do what he does best -- look for innovations that can positively affect our global society.

Hasler joined Purdue in February as the president and chief entrepreneurial officer of Purdue Research Foundation. He is working to move Purdue’s life-changing innovations through the technology transfer pipeline and to generate more entrepreneurship and commercialization licensing deals for Purdue innovators.

What are your main responsibilities as chief entrepreneurial officer?

There are so many great innovators at Purdue doing incredible research -- life-changing research -- and I feel a tremendous responsibility to get these innovations to the public.

My main goal is to provide the support system needed for researchers, whether it is helping them find funding or make connections with potential licensees. It is all about helping them through the commercialization process.

As President Daniels pointed out, there are about two dozen entrepreneurial programs in place at Purdue. I’m working to bring all the good ideas and programs together.

What administrative changes have been made to move innovations through the technology transfer process?

We already have a strong technology transfer program led by a team of professionals, but we wanted to create new avenues to accelerate the technology transfer process. To accomplish this, we made some expeditious policy changes to make commercialization as easy as possible for Purdue innovators. 

The changes, which have been well received by Purdue innovators, include:

* A six-month "Innovation Assessment Process" for all qualified technology disclosures to the Office of Technology Commercialization.

* A "Purdue Innovator Express Startup License" for Purdue innovators who founded a new venture that develops and commercializes their innovations.

* A zero-fee, first-option program that ensures that a SBIR/STTR grant recipient can competitively leverage Purdue technology cited in the grant application during the term of the work performed at Purdue.

There also is the Silicon Valley Boiler Innovation Group (SV BIG), an all-volunteer nonprofit group of Silicon Valley-based Purdue alumni that links Purdue entrepreneurs with California venture capitalists, angel investors, entrepreneurs and industry officials.

Where are some of Purdue’s most promising innovations taking place?

Innovation is taking place everywhere, all across campus.

Purdue is a world-class research institution, and I am reminded of that daily just through my interactions with Purdue researchers. I have met with hundreds of researchers over the past three months -- faculty, staff and students -- and innovation is taking place in every discipline.

There are researchers in health and human sciences developing apps to help children with nonverbal autism communicate with the outside world, some for the first time in their lives.

There are student researchers who developed a topical antibiotic cream and then founded their own company to sell their product.

There are engineering researchers using nanotechnology to improve the study of biological molecules.

There are food scientists who have developed a way to “fry” food using much less oil.

The list goes on and on.

How do you envision securing the funding needed to support commercialization and entrepreneurship?

There is not a single place or magic bullet to accomplish this. We are looking at the venture capital community, the state of Indiana, national companies and our own alumni. We also include sponsored research in the equation, because our innovations and the balance of our success in continuing to generate new research depends on our sponsored research funding.

Where do you see commercialization and entrepreneurship at Purdue in 2014?

We’re going to build upon the positive energy from Purdue innovators and we’re going to make an impact on society. I can see us dramatically increasing the number of patents filed, commercialization deals accomplished and startups formed in the coming year. And we’re going to celebrate these successes.

Writer: Cynthia Sequin, Purdue Research Foundation