Purdue Foundry hits second-year mark in helping startups, entrepreneurs

August 19, 2015  

Wendt speak

SPEAKMODalities LLC, a company co-founded by Oliver Wendt, a Purdue assistant professor of speech, language and hearing sciences, has been a Purdue Foundry client since the entrepreneurial hub opened in 2013. Wendt, at right, assists Steve Rettig of Lafayette, Indiana, and his son, Stevie, with using SPEAKall! and SPEAKmore! Both are iPad applications developed by SPEAKMODalities that help families dealing with severe, nonverbal autism. (Purdue Research Foundation photo)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue Foundry, an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub located in the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship at Purdue University, has helped 67 startups and more than 150 entrepreneurs since its creation two years ago.

Purdue Foundry was created to provide a more integrated approach to support entrepreneurs and move Purdue innovations from the university to the market and to help Purdue-affiliated entrepreneurs. The hub offers services that will help clients in each stage of establishing a business, including assessments, ideation, coaching, commercialization, mentoring, workshops and seminars. Entrepreneurs-in-Residence provide startup guidance on venture funding, regulatory affairs, engagement with Purdue alumni and professional development training.

"Over the last two years the Purdue Foundry has successfully created partnerships with over a dozen organizations that have allowed us to offer some of the best resources to our clients," said Greg Deason, Purdue Foundry's executive director. "We have been able to activate a thriving entrepreneurial community via various programs and events like certified startup programs, competitions, Foundry Grounds and the Spirited Entrepreneur events, along with hitting consistent startup numbers that have tripled over the past two years."

In 2014 the Purdue Foundry and Purdue Technology Centers were recognized internationally and awarded the Incubator Network of the Year award by the National Business Incubation Association.

"We have achieved momentum with past performance and we plan for that trend to continue, with a future goal of being the benchmark in the diversity of entrepreneurial teams and women entrepreneurship," Deason said.

SPEAK MODalities LLC, a startup commercializing a technology to improve communication for children and families affected by severe, nonverbal autism, received assistance from the Foundry. Oliver Wendt, a co-founder of the company and a Purdue assistant professor of speech, language, and hearing sciences and educational studies, received the Education Tech Award given by TechPoint Mira Awards, received top honors at the 2014 International GAIN-TEN Business Pitch Challenge, and received $20,000 from the Elevate Purdue Foundry fund.

The Purdue Foundry has established a series of distinguished funding opportunities for its clients. These opportunities financially help companies in a variety of different areas including nonprofits, intellectual property, commercialization and seed funding. Foundry personnel established Foundry Investment Fund, Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund and P3 Alliance. Other funding opportunities include Trask Innovation Fund and Emerging Innovations Fund.

Oliver Wendt, co-founder of SPEAK MODalities LLC, said the expertise and resources he and his team received from the Foundry have helped to make his company a success.

"The assistance we received for licensing, commercializing and marketing our innovations has been incredible," he said. "We've had early success as a result of the support we received from the Foundry, Purdue Research Foundation and the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship."

Other companies receiving assistance from the Purdue Foundry include:    

* Spero Energy Inc., a startup developing processes for a range of renewable specialty chemicals targeting flavor and fragrance ingredients, high performance materials and pharmaceutical markets. Spero Energy has received a combined $800,000 from federal grants and $140,000 from state and local sources. Ian Klein, a member of the team of researchers, was named to Forbes magazine's annual "30 under 30" list of outstanding researchers who are younger than 30.

* Get Involved - Be the Change Inc., a student startup that raises funds for nonprofits by designing scarfs and selling them online. Emily Mishler, CEO, has been able to donate more than $5,500 to 12 different charities since January 2014.

* GeniPhys LLC, a startup that specializes in the commercialization of the first standardized, tunable collagen polymers (Collymers) and collagen-fibril materials for research and medical applications. GeniPhys received $20,000 in funding from the First-Tier Black Awards from the Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund in May.

* SensorHound Inc., a high-tech startup that specializes in software products that could reduce the cost of developing and operating networked embedded systems. SensorHound was awarded a Phase 1 SBIR grant worth $150,000 from the National Science Foundation, received $75,000 from the Emerging Innovations Fund with a potential to receive an additional $75,000, and participated in the San Francisco-based Alchemist Accelerator's program.

* Akanocure Pharmaceuticals LLC, a pharmaceutical startup that synthesizes and develops complex cancer therapies based on naturally occurring molecules. The startup received $20,000 from the First-Tier Black Award from the Elevate Purdue Foundry Fund, and was a top 10 finalist for FOUNDER.org's Class of 2016, receiving $100,000 from the organization.

For a full list of Purdue Foundry startups, visit the Purdue Foundry website.

About Purdue Foundry

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub in Discovery Park's Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. Managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, the Purdue Foundry 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: Hillary Henry, 765-588-3586, hkhenry@prf.org 

Sources: Greg Deason, 765-588-5254, gwdeason@prf.org

Oliver Wendt, 765-494-2462, olli@purdue.edu 

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