October 3, 2023

Fast Company names Purdue University a ‘Brand That Matters’ for third year in a row

Purdue Innovates helps secure spot as only university, again, on list of brands making positive social change

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – For the third year in a row, Purdue University is the only university Fast Company magazine has placed on its roster of “Brands That Matter,” an annual list honoring organizations for performing their brand’s mission and ideals with intention and authenticity. Purdue shares this space with brands like the NFL, Bombas and Rare Beauty and is one of only six three-time honorees.

Fast Company received more than 1,100 applications for its 2023 list, ultimately selecting a roster of 165 brands for having “achieved relevance through cultural impact and social engagement.” This year, Purdue’s application showcased Purdue Innovates, the university’s in-house pipeline for technology commercialization, intellectual property protection and enterprise creation.

Last year’s entry focused on Purdue’s performance of its land-grant mission in the 21st century, including frozen tuition, Purdue Global and the Purdue Polytechnic High Schools. Purdue’s 2021 recognition centered on Purdue’s ability to provide a high-value education with initiatives like The Data Mine, exceeding undergraduate enrollment goals and increasing student success — while coming together in a shared commitment to protection in the Protect Purdue campaign against COVID-19.

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Purdue Innovates brings Purdue’s claims of solving real-world problems full circle by giving researchers the tools to move their work from the lab to the world, without learning the ins and outs of commercialization. This agile system takes advantage of a rich university ecosystem while ensuring that every innovative idea has a chance to make a difference in its field. 

“I want to thank the Fast Company editors and judges who again selected Purdue University as a Brand That Matters, the only university on the list this year and every year since the inception of the honor,” says R. Ethan Braden, executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for Purdue University and Purdue Global. “And I want to congratulate everyone at Purdue for contributing to a culture where the persistence to make a true difference together is at the center of what we do, every day.”

Fast Company says this year’s Education winners, a category Purdue shares with Sesame Workshop and Quizlet, deserve recognition for their “commitment to education.” The Fast Company selection cites Purdue Innovates as an initiative that “encourages students and faculty alike to explore and create,” making possible some of the university’s most world-changing research. 

Over 800 patent applications have been filed and 262 patents have been issued for Purdue-born innovations so far during the 2023 fiscal year. In the same time frame, 14 startup companies have launched through Purdue Innovates, and the Trask Innovation Fund has granted seven awards to support short-term projects enhancing the value of ongoing Purdue projects.

During the 2022 calendar year, Purdue Research Foundation was ranked fourth among U.S. universities, ahead of Stanford and Harvard, for patents received from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. 

Excellence at scale — and outside the ivory tower

Purdue Innovates finds efficiency by making experts in patents, licensing, product marketing and business law available to researchers so they can focus on the science and education. Purdue’s experts have streamlined the process of applying for patents, licenses and starting companies, removing common barriers to commercialization for university-born projects.

In addition to proving excellence in technology transfer from lab to market, Purdue University remains one of the top producers of shared knowledge in the form of academic publication and education, demonstrated by its ongoing and renewed status as an R1 research institution and membership in the Association of American Universities.

“I’m very proud of this recognition. If anything at all, Purdue is driven to produce outcomes that matter,” said Brooke Beier, senior vice president of commercialization for Purdue Innovates. “This honor is a well-deserved nod to the passionate, entrepreneurial-minded faculty, staff, students, alumni and partners empowered by the Purdue ecosystem to bring world-changing technologies to market.”

Based at a public university, the Purdue Innovates team gets to focus on impact rather than profit.

For example, a malaria treatment developed by Purdue biochemist Philip Low may be produced at just $1 per pill, thanks to manufacturing partners in India and Vietnam. Results of a 2021 Phase 2 clinical trial showed the drug to be nearly 100% effective in defeating the disease in just three days. Meanwhile, Low continues other drug development projects, including FDA-approved prostate cancer diagnostics and lung cancer treatments.

In another case, materials engineer Rahim Rahimi has developed and is advancing a flexible microneedle array capable of delivering necessary oxygen and bactericidal agents into nonhealing wounds, which afflict more than 5 million people in the U.S. and are a leading cause of limb amputations. Last year, the innovation was an inaugural Proof of Concept Fund recipient, receiving over $89,000 to help bring to commercial use.

Other world-changing projects currently being assisted by Purdue Innovates include:

  • Smart contacts, which monitor for glaucoma better than current standards without the trip to a doctor and with the same comfort as a standard contact lens.
  • Food fraud prevention at the atomic level: detecting the ingredients, preparation and even point of origin of a food sample.
  • Polymer films used to make wearable biometric sensors that are flexible and breathable for extended periods of time.
  • HADAR: machine vision that sees texture and depth beyond traditional thermal imaging, essential for autonomous vehicles or robotics. 

In addition to Fast Company’s “Brands That Matter” honor, Purdue has been recognized as a top 10 Most Innovative University for six straight years by U.S. News & World Report. As the country’s No. 4 most trusted public university, according to Morning Consult, Purdue has frozen tuition 12 years running, a move which will have saved Purdue families $1 billion by the end of this year. In July, Purdue was named No. 3 most recognized U.S. public university (and No. 10 globally), coming in ahead of institutions like Yale University, University of Cambridge and UCLA.

The fall issue of Fast Company magazine, including the complete list of 2023 Brands That Matter, is available online now and will be on newsstands beginning Oct. 10.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a public research institution with excellence at scale. Ranked among top 10 public universities and with two colleges in the top 4 in the United States, Purdue discovers and disseminates knowledge with a quality and at a scale second to none. More than 105,000 students study at Purdue across modalities and locations, with 50,000 in person on the West Lafayette campus. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue’s main campus has frozen tuition 12 years in a row. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap, including its first comprehensive urban campus in Indianapolis, the new Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, and Purdue Computes, at https://www.purdue.edu/president/strategic-initiatives.

About Purdue Innovates

Purdue Innovates is a unified network at Purdue Research Foundation to assist Purdue faculty, staff, students and alumni in either IP commercialization or startup creation. As a conduit to technology commercialization, intellectual property protection and licensing, startup creation and venture capital, Purdue Innovates serves as the front door to translate new ideas into world-changing impact.

For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at otcip@prf.org. For more information about involvement and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact Purdue Innovates at purdueinnovates@prf.org.

Writer/Media contact: Christy McCarter, mccarter@purdue.edu, @ChristyMcCarter

Sources: Brooke Beier, Ethan Braden

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