May 30, 2019

Purdue and Indian universities to collaborate on entrepreneurship and pharmaceutical sciences initiative

Purdue has just announced a partnership with two Indian universities in the state of Andhra Pradesh -- Andhra University and Sri Venkateswara University -- to collaborate on capacity-building activities focusing on entrepreneurship and pharmaceutical sciences. The partnership is part of the government of India’s Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) program, intended to improve the quality of Indian state public institutions, recognizing that the development of the country’s entrepreneurial talent is critically important to job creation and overall economic prosperity.

According to Suresh Garimella, executive vice president for research and partnerships, “Purdue has been consistently recognized for its award-winning programs in fostering entrepreneurship, startups and commercialization of university research, and is uniquely positioned to collaborate with these institutions on capacity-building activities that fuse together entrepreneurship and pharmaceutical sciences.”

Professor Venkatesh Kumar, national coordinator for RUSA, says, “Partnerships like those being developed between Purdue, Andhra and Sri Venkateswara are exactly the kinds of collaborations that RUSA aims to promote. By learning from peers at respected and experienced institutions like Purdue, our state institutions will be on a fast track to developing their own entrepreneurship hubs.”

The 12-month projects will focus on three main pillars: entrepreneurial ecosystem development, research collaboration, and core facility training.

Purdue has a demonstrated commitment to excellence in the pharmaceutical sciences and drug discovery. Purdue’s College of Pharmacy is the third oldest in the United States, established in 1884. In January 2016, Purdue announced an investment of more than $250 million in the life sciences over five years, including launching two new interdisciplinary campus-wide institutes -- the Purdue Institute of Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Disease (PI4D) and the Purdue Institute for Integrative Neuroscience (PIIN) — to complement existing research centers on cancer (Purdue Center for Cancer Research), health care engineering (Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering), drug discovery (Purdue Institute of Drug Discovery, PIDD) and plant science (Purdue Institute for Plant Science).  

The Purdue Foundry also will play a critical role in the collaboration with its premier ideation workshop “Firestarter.” The Purdue Foundry, which designed this curriculum, has a proven track record of assisting innovators move their ideas to impact. During the first five years of its existence, the Foundry helped kindle the creation of 203 startup companies using this methodology.

The creation of the new Firestarter digital platform makes the curriculum perfectly suited to this Purdue-India collaboration as the digital materials and train-the-trainer approach allow for large-scale dissemination, with potential to impact the entire university community at a low cost. This program will be custom-designed for the Pharma/Drug Discovery sector, but the broad basis of Firestarter provides the flexibility to generalize local curricula to serve prospective entrepreneurs from multiple sectors.

Andhra University’s registrar, Professor Kandula Niranjan, says, “We are very excited about this collaboration with Purdue University and the opportunity to strengthen Andhra University’s entrepreneurial ecosystem as well as its pharmacy programs, which will ultimately provide more opportunities to Andhra faculty, students, and the community at large.”

SVU’s vice-chancellor, Professor VVN Rajendra Prasad, says, “We are honored to be working with Purdue University, a renowned U.S. research institution with a proven track record in research commercialization and numerous successes in the pharmaceutical sciences and drug discovery. We anticipate that this RUSA program will be just the beginning of a lasting partnership between our institutions.”

The project is scheduled to kick off in June with an initial visit of administrative and technical leaders from both Indian universities to Purdue’s campus, followed by a Firestarter intensive facilitator training in the fall.

Andhra University was established in 1926 in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. Its College of Pharmaceutical Sciences was established in 2006. Sri Venkateswara University was established in 1954 in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, and its College of Pharmacy was set up in 2017.

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Source: Heidi Arola, managing director, Global Partnerships

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