Innovation fund awards nearly $200,000 to help commercialize Purdue discoveries

August 2012  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Trask Innovation Fund (TIF) awarded nearly $200,000 to Purdue researchers studying alternative fuels, pharmaceutical drug dosage forms, assisted reproductive technology and a mobile app for note-taking in the most recent round of awards through the Trask Innovation Fund.

The Purdue Research Foundation-managed Trask Innovation Fund is a development program to assist faculty whose discoveries are being commercialized through the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization.

"The Trask Innovation Fund provides Purdue researchers with funding to assist in the process of commercializing a discovery," said Joseph B. Hornett, senior vice president, treasurer and COO of the Purdue Research Foundation. "The awards can be used to prove a concept, develop prototypes, marketing research and advisement, and other necessary resources to help move a discovery into the market."

Elizabeth Hart-Wells, assistant vice president and director of the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, said recipients are selected from faculty and staff submissions and is a competitive process.

"There are many Purdue staff and faculty across many disciplines doing research that has practical applications," Hart-Wells said. "We work together to move these important discoveries to a more advanced stage of readiness, increasing their value and improving the chances that they can be realized as products and services that make positive and meaningful impacts in our communities."

The 10-member Trask Innovation Fund Advisory Council is comprised of representatives from Purdue Research Foundation, Purdue University Office of the Vice President for Research, Purdue faculty and the executives from the local business community.

"This round of Trask awards was highly competitive, and the decision to fund these particular discoveries depended on several factors. including the practical application, the intellectual property strategy, and the commercialization stage of the discoveries," said Richard O. Buckius, Purdue's vice president for research and a co-director of the TIF advisory council. "Each year we award about $500,000 through the fund."

The researchers, projects and award amounts for the Spring round of funding are:

"Termite-Derived Biocatalysts for Use in Sustainable Energy Production," Michael E. Scharf, associate professor and the O.W. Rollins/Orkin Chair of the Department of Entomology, $40,590. The research aims to offer sustainable strategies for biofuel production that are compatible with existing agricultural systems in the United States, and, importantly, do not rely on invasive plant species or the development of new cropping systems.

"Development of Novel Prefabricated Film Based Dosage Forms: Eye on Commercialization," Rodolfo Pinal, associate professor in the Department of Industrial and Physical Pharmacy, $49,999. Discovery provides a novel design for prescription drug dosage forms that may help physicians customize drug doses, better control the drug release for particular patients and improve the efficiency of drug manufacturing.

"Dynamic Imaging for In Vitro Embryo Viability Assessment: A new Assisted Reproductive Technology," David Nolte, professor in the Department of Physics, $48,324. The technology provides multiple dimension imaging techniques that measure the health of a fertilized egg and enable assisted-reproductive technicians to guide selection and may increase the chances for successful "in utero" implantation.

"Trask Initiative 3iD," Bob McCullouch, research scientist in the Department of Construction Engineering and Management, $36,655. Discovery is a mobile pad app called "paperlessMe," that allows users to take notes and annotate PowerPoint slides. It can be used by an instructor to deliver slides and record lecture notes and gives the student the ability to add notes and to lecture or present slides.

"We invite staff and faculty researchers interested in learning more about it to visit the web site. We will have another round of awards in the fall," Buckius said.

The next proposal submissions from Purdue faculty and staff for the Trask Innovation Fund are due Oct. 31 and the Trask Advisory Council will meet Dec. 12.

About the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the United States. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities.

Contact: Cynthia Sequin, Purdue Research Foundation, 765-588-3340,


Joseph B. Hornett, 765-588-1040,

Richard Buckius, 765-494-3342,

Elizabeth Hart-Wells, 765-588-3473,

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