2004 CoreNet Global Innovator's Award
Purdue Research Foundation Research Park
Innovations by Communities/Economic Development Organizations
CoRE 2010 Tie-in: The Strategic Role of Place
For the team representing Purdue University Foundation’s Research Park, "The Idea Economy Is Here."
This writer appreciates the results, having received an innovative medical treatment for an injury this past year that was developed by one of the growing array of emerging companies based in the Lafayette, Indiana business park. Since its inception in 1940, the park has seen more than $7.5 billion in total investment, creating "a model partnership in university-stimulated economic development in the science and technology communities," according to Joe Hornett, senior VP and treasurer of the Purdue Research Foundation.
Today, more than 100 companies are based there, most of them incubated from nascent start-up status, including Cook Biotech. The firm was launched in 1995 and today produces tissue-engineered medical treatments used in healing wounds of gunshot, stabbing and burn victims – or klutzes like me who need help treating lacerations resulting from household accidents. One of Cook’s leading products, tissue from porcine small intestines, is used as an innovative and relatively low-cost skin graft, and is one of many reasons why the company has grown from 70 to more than 200 employees.
VP of Development for the Foundation, Greg Deason, identified the key point of differentiation for the Research Park. It was the university’s decision to develop growth from within the institution’s base of faculty, students and intellectual capital. "How are we different from other university research parks? It’s our commitment to incubation. We could have gone for (business) relocations, but we’re in it for the long haul, and are willing to incubate our own companies. Research shows they are more willing to stay there."
Not only does the Foundation serve as a business incubator, it is also an angel providing venture capital and a business developer – which are other key factors explaining the Purdue Research Park’s six decades of effective community service and economic impact. "We have a wide range of core strengths for building businesses from scratch in the start-up mode," Deason added. Thus, the slogan: "The Idea Economy is Here."
The soil for the fruitful planting of new company seedlings is also enriched by the university’s licensing of new technology. Foundation VP of Finance Michelle White pointed to the university’s 21st Century Fund linking faculty with business in the promotion of marketable products. The park also offers equity-saving approaches like six-month leases that give more flexibility to fledgling firms. Breadth of amenities and services is also important. For example, tenant employees have responded well to the opening of a new health club in the park.
The foundation team showcased a number of other companies spawned within the park’s 591 acres. Among the 43 incubator firms, 33 start-up’s and 58 high-tech operations based there are:
• SSCI, the park’s first incubator formed in 1993 that now has $10-million in annual sales and 80 employees
• Griffin Analytical Technologies established in 2001 by then-Purdue students working on mass spectrometer technology with defense and homeland security applications
• Endocyte, which was launched in 1996 and has since developed a "Trojan Horse" vitamin that fools cancer cells and delivers anti-cancer agents to the body
• GH Technologies offering products and solutions for the visually impared including high-resolution tactile graphics and electronic documents with screen readers and audio speech output
Together, these and the other 100-plus companies based in the park average annual income of $58-million.
Has anyone ever taken advantage of the park’s generosity as an angel, cutting out on the six-month lease deal for instance? "We’ve only been stiffed once in 60 years, and that’s a good record," recounted Hornett.
– Richard Kadzis