Purdue's Emerging Innovations Fund invests in two startups

March 20, 2012

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Officials of an evergreen fund created to help commercialize new technologies announced $100,000 of investments in an information technology startup and a life-science startup, both based in the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette.

Spensa Technologies Inc. received $80,000, and Tymora Analytical Operations LLC received $20,000 from the Emerging Innovations Fund, which helps move research discoveries from Purdue University to the market. The fund was established in 2008 as a partnership between the Purdue Research Foundation and Purdue University.

"The Emerging Innovations Fund strengthens early-stage companies that have licensed technologies through the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization or are based in the Purdue Research Park network," said Joseph B. Hornett, senior vice president, treasurer and COO of the Purdue Research Foundation. "As Purdue-discovered innovations reach the market, they benefit the public, strengthen the state's economy and grow Purdue's reputation as a leader in commercializing technology."

Richard Cosier, the Avrum and Joyce Gray Director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, said students from Purdue University's Krannert School of Management participated in the due diligence process to select recipients.

"During the fall 2011 semester, the team that performed due diligence on potential investments from the Emerging Innovations Funds consisted of two Krannert MBA students, two Krannert senior undergraduate students and a Krannert MBA student adviser," he said. "Students who participated for course credit enrolled in the Student Managed Venture Fund."

"The Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization worked closely with Krannert School of Management officials, faculty researchers and entrepreneurs to find discoveries that are in the commercialization process and could best benefit from the Emerging Innovations Fund," said Elizabeth Hart-Wells, assistant vice president and director of the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization. "Spensa Technologies and Tymora Analytical are outstanding examples of Purdue faculty researchers who have patented Purdue technologies and are moving important products to the public in an expedient manner."  

Spensa Technologies is commercializing the Z-Trap, which detects target insects captured by the trap and sends the data wirelessly to the grower's mobile phone or computer. Knowing the types of pests can help inform pesticide use to be more selective and specific, favorably affecting costs spent on chemical usage.

"The Z-Traps automate the monitoring of insect populations in agricultural fields and provides unprecedented real-time, accurate insect population data," said Johnny Park, president and CEO. "Using more current data will help growers and pest-control advisers make timely and effective pest management decisions, which can help reduce insecticide use on food crops, save money for the growers and emit fewer chemicals into the environment."

Park said the award will help Spensa Technologies manufacture 75 pre-production models of the Z-Trap and carry out large-scale field experiments and evaluations during the 2012 growing season.

Tymora Analytical Operations' products are intended to make cancer research and drug discovery more efficient and effective. Anton Iliuk, president and chief technology officer, said the end user implements the products in the laboratory to achieve reliable results during the life-science research and discovery stages.

"The award will help us with the initial sales and marketing steps of our first commercialized product, called PolyMAC," he said. "It will help us bring our next product, pIMAGO, to the market next year. It also will give us good leverage to obtain subsequent investments, including non-dilutive investments."

About the Emerging Innovations Fund

In 2008 Purdue Research Foundation introduced the Emerging Innovations Fund, an integrated approach to research innovation, development and commercialization. The Emerging Innovations Fund is a self-sustaining initiative that brings together ideas, management and money to accelerate the commercialization of early stage technologies in the Purdue community.
About Spensa Technologies Inc.

Spensa's mission is to design, develop and deliver novel technologies for the agricultural industry that will reduce reliance on manual labor, foster eco-friendly farming, and enhance crop production efficiency. Our technologies leverage our world-leading expertise in wireless sensor networks, robotics and computer vision.

About Tymora Analytical Operations LLC

Tymora Analytical Operations was established in 2010 to provide new nanotechnology-based products to serve the R&D market in the life sciences. Tymora has developed a nanoscale platform technology - with PolyMAC and pIMAGO as the lead products - for unmet needs in analysis of protein phosphorylation that relates to the onset of numerous diseases, most noticeably cancer.

About Purdue Research Foundation

Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University. The foundation accepts gifts; administers trusts; funds research, scholarships and grants; acquires property; and negotiates research contracts on behalf of Purdue. In the 1990s, the foundation was charged with helping the university in the realm of economic development. The Purdue Research Foundation oversees the Purdue Research Park, which is the largest university-affiliated business incubator in the country. In addition to the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette, the foundation has established technology parks in other locations around Indiana including Indianapolis, Merrillville and New Albany.

Purdue Research Foundation contact:

Steve Martin, 765-588-3342, sgmartin@prf.org

Joseph B. Hornett, 765-588-1040

Richard Cosier, 765-494-4353, rcosier@purdue.edu

Elizabeth Hart-Wells, 765-588-3473, eahart-wells@prf.org

Johnny Park, 765-588-3592, johnny.park@spensatech.com

Anton Iliuk, 765-490-6834, anton.iliuk@tymora-analytical.com