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January 16, 2014

Faculty-led program to help integrate commercialization goals in fundamental research

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Supporting a transformational change in the way universities approach fundamental research, several Purdue University faculty are spearheading a program to incorporate commercialization goals as a valuable enhancement of basic research and to foster increased entrepreneurialism at Purdue.  

"Deliberate Innovation for Faculty (DIFF)," founded by Purdue faculty and leaders from multiple disciplines, provides mentoring for Purdue innovators who have an interest in translating their inventions to the public through commercialization, collaboration or entrepreneurship and encourages long-term tech transfer goals in early-stage research.

"Many researchers start planning a commercialization path when an innovation is close to marketability," said Alyssa Panitch, the Leslie A. Geddes Professor of Biomedical Engineering and a founding director of DIFF. "If we start incorporating long-term goals for how a technology can help society at the research level, it will establish positive differentiators from project inception that could help expedite the innovation's move to the public when it reaches fruition. The concept of incorporating those goals early in the research process is a new trend."

Establishing long-term goals in early-stage research also could help provide additional sponsored research support. Many funding agencies are already asking researchers to include societal benefits and commercialization plans in funding proposals, added Panitch, who has expertise in life sciences and commercialization.

Utilizing the experience of faculty members who have gone through the research, development and commercialization process is paramount to the success of the program.  

"Who better to understand the research to development to commercialization process at a university than faculty members who have gone through it," said Joe Pekny, a professor of chemical engineering who helped established Deliberate Innovation for Faculty as interim director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. "Working in a collaborative manner is central to this program and is one of the reasons why it includes so many different disciplines."

The program is jointly supported by the colleges of Engineering, Technology and Management and the Purdue Research Foundation, Discovery Park, Purdue Foundry and Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship.

"I've been working with entrepreneurship at Purdue for more than 15 years, and the interest from faculty, staff and student innovators is at its highest yet and continues to grow even more as university research and commercialization becomes part of our national culture," said Greg Deason, vice president and executive director of the Purdue Foundry, a startup hub at the university. "Strategically including long-term commercialization goals in research will do more than move innovations to the public faster, it also will support our economy by creating new companies and jobs in high-tech areas."

In addition to Panitch, the founders and directors of the DIFF program and their respective areas of expertise are:

* J. Eric Dietz, professor of computer technology, College of Technology and Purdue Homeland Security Institute, defense and homeland security.

* Matthew Lynall, clinical associate professor, Krannert School of Management, strategic management and experiential learning in entrepreneurship.

* Ernesto Marinero, professor of engineering practice, schools of chemical and materials engineering, College of Engineering, nano manufacturing and nano materials.

About Purdue Research Foundation

The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. Established in 1930, the foundation accepts gifts, administers trusts, funds scholarships and grants, and acquires property on behalf of Purdue. Services provided by the foundation support economic development initiatives and benefit the university's academic activities. The foundation manages the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, which operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. The foundation oversees the Purdue Research Park, which is the largest university-affiliated business incubation complex in the country.

About Discovery Park

Discovery Park harnesses Purdue's research capabilities to tackle global challenges and respond to local, state, national and global needs. Interdisciplinary research teams work at the frontiers of new science and technology delivering innovation through business development, industry partnerships and all levels of education.

About Purdue Foundry

Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub created to serve Purdue innovators who have an interest in forming a startup or licensing their discoveries. The Foundry is supported and managed by the Purdue Research Foundation. Assistance provided includes product ideation and market analysis on an innovation, business plan development, help with finding funding sources and guidance from the Purdue entrepreneurs-in-residence.

About Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship

The Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship is Purdue's interdisciplinary hub for entrepreneurship. Through its sponsored initiatives including the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Technology Realization Program, Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy and Business Plan Competitions, the center aims to stimulate entrepreneurship in the Purdue community.

Contact: Cynthia Sequin, (765) 588-3340, casequin@prf.org 

Sources:  Alyssa Panitch, (765) 496-1313, apanitch@purdue.edu 

Joe Pekny, (765) 494-1335, pekny@purdue.edu 

Greg Deason, (765) 588-5254, gwdeason@prf.org