Purdue-based firms grow after receiving Emerging Innovations Fund investments

March 9, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - For eight years, companies based on Purdue University intellectual property or headquartered in the four-site Purdue Research Park network have been eligible to receive investments from a fund administered by the Purdue Research Foundation.

The Emerging Innovations Fund supports new business ventures by bridging the gap between enterprise formation and third-party equity financing. Diligence reviews are conducted by teams comprised of competitively selected graduate students and seniors mainly from the Krannert School of Management in collaboration with Purdue Research Foundation professionals.

Companies that have received funding from the Emerging Innovations Fund include bioVidria Inc., Matrix-Bio Inc., Medtric Biotech LLC, Microfluidic Innovations LLC, SensorHound Inc., Spensa Technologies Inc., Telos Discovery Systems Inc. and Tymora Analytical Operations LLC.

Mary J. Wirth

Mary J. Wirth, bioVidria Inc.  
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bioVidria received $75,000 from the Emerging Innovations Fund in 2014. The company is focused on new materials for protein analysis to advance pharmaceuticals, proteomics and agriculture. Since the award, the company received a $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop technology that helps identify impurities in drugs to help patients with cancer or autoimmune diseases like Type I diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease and lupus. The company is based on research by Mary J. Wirth, the W. Brooks Fortune Distinguished Professor of Chemistry.

Matrix-Bio received $75,000 in 2010 and $75,000 in 2011. The company is developing a test for hepatocellular carcinoma, which is one of the most common types of liver cancer and is associated with hepatitis B or C or cirrhosis. It is based on research by Daniel Raftery, who previously had been a professor of chemistry at Purdue and now is a researcher at the University of Washington.

Sean Connell Jianming Li

Sean Connell and Jianming Li, Medtric Biotech LLC  
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Medtric Biotech received $100,000 in 2013. The company is developing products for the wound care sector. Its platform technology has received funding from National Science Foundation SBIR Phase 1/1B grants and seed funding from private investors. The company is partnering with local vendors and plans to release several consumer products that include the GoPlay® line of non-alcohol based hand sanitizers and mouthwashes later this year. Follow-up products will be more clinically oriented and improve acute and chronic wound management. Medtric also is pursuing sales and distribution channels in the Asian markets for clinical use of the antimicrobial technology. The company is based on research by Sean Connell and Jianming Li, who earned their doctorates from the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

Microfluidic Innovations received $75,000 in 2013. The company has developed a system to help researchers perform life science assays at microfluidic, or sub-millimeter, scale where experiments can be conducted faster, less expensively and with higher precision. Since the EIF award, the company has sold its technology to several academic customers and has partnered with commercial companies. The company has licensed Purdue technology.

SensorHound received $75,000 from the Emerging Innovations Fund in 2015, the most recent round of funding, with a potential to receive an additional $75,000 if certain performance milestones are met. The company focuses on technology that reduces the operations cost and improves the reliability and security of the Internet of Things (IoT). The company is based on research by co-founders Patrick Eugster, Vinai Sundaram and Matthew Tan Creti. Eugster is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science, Sundaram earned his doctorate from the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Tan Creti is a doctoral candidate in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. A video about SensorHound is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HivLOiCJ7JE

Tom Puterbaush Johnny Park

Tom Puterbaugh and Johnny Park, Spensa Technologies Inc.  
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Spensa Technologies received $80,000 in 2012 and $20,000 in 2013. It is an agtech company that develops and markets precision ag technologies. Since receiving the award, the company has launched mobile technologies called MyTraps Scout and Open Scout to document and share information from field and orchard analysis. It has raised more than $2 million through private investments and grants from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, developed a partnership with the third-largest corn seed company in the nation and hired seven new employees. The company is based on research by Johnny Park, a research assistant professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. A video about Spensa Technologies is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfqUGixU5xE

Telos Discovery Systems received $75,000 in 2014. The company is a boutique equipment manufacturer that supports basic and discovery medical research. Since the award, the company increased in-house production abilities and signed a contract to design products as the equipment supplier to an international firm. The company also has contracted with two mechanical and electrical design engineers. It is based on the work of Joseph Garner, a former Purdue associate professor in the Department of Animal Sciences.

W. Andy Tao

W. Andy Tao, Tymora Analytical Operations LLC  
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Tymora Analytical Operations received $20,000 in 2012. The company provides laboratory research and development products for the life sciences. The company has launched four products based on two of its technologies and is earning revenue from sales. It also has received more than $1.5 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. The company is based on research by W. Andy Tao, professor in the Department of Biochemistry.

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 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 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; acquires property; protects Purdue's intellectual property; and promotes entrepreneurial activities on behalf of Purdue. The foundation manages the Purdue Foundry, Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization, Purdue Research Park and Purdue Technology Centers. The foundation received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year from the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org.

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Steve Martin, 765-588-3342, sgmartin@prf.org 

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