Purdue Foundry flourishes as a hotbed for entrepreneurs

It's no accident the university has become a hotbed for entrepreneurs. Since 2013, Purdue has generated $271.9 million in funding from startup companies.

Posted: Nov. 16, 2017 4:49 PM
Updated: Nov. 16, 2017 5:18 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — One hundred sixty-five.

That's the number of startups created at Purdue University in the last four years.

It's no accident the university has become a hotbed for entrepreneurs.

Since 2013, Purdue has generated $271.9 million in funding from startup companies.

There have also been 200 jobs created in that same time span.

News 18 spoke with some of Purdue's entrepreneurs to see how the university is helping them take an idea and turn it into a company.

"As an engineer, I had no business skills whatsoever," said Scott Massey, Founder of HydroGrow.

After graduating from Purdue's School of Mechanical Engineering and Technology in May, Scott Massey knew what he wanted to do.

But he needed some direction.

"I was lost and I had an idea of a product that we wanted to launch," said Massey.

It was a home hydroponics appliance.

But he says that would have remained a dream if it wasn't for help from Purdue University. Specifically, the Purdue Foundry.

"I would have been a person with an idea, I probably wouldn't have had the sense to patent it, and figure out that, you know, that there's barriers to entry that you need to enforce if you want to run a successful business and these are things that aren't really taught in academia," said Massey.

Massey's is one of 100 companies to license a product through Purdue. The Foundry gave him valuable skills from other entrepreneurs.

It's a similar story for the Foundry's first company to license.

Matthew Ward says he owes a lot to the university for the resources that helped him launch his company, Drug Free Therapeutics, four years ago.

As a professor, he's also seen the resources attract new students.

"Just knowing that right across the street from my building there's a place where they can give you free advice, access to everything you need to start a business has led some very talented engineers to Purdue in our engineering school," said Matthew Ward.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels says it's all part of the plan.

"We have more than tripled the rate at which new companies and therefore jobs are born on the Purdue campus," said Daniels.

While more and more entrepreneurs create companies, Daniels says it's not about profit.

"We're not worried so much about dollars back to Purdue. When we were, it was slowing everything down," said Daniels.

But there is a benefit for Purdue.

"If they're successful, we'll share in that over time. Then they will often actually pay royalties as a result of actually using that patent," said Gregory Deason.

Purdue Research Foundation Senior Vice President Gregory Deason says when Daniels took office in 2013, the university began emphasizing advancing entrepreneurship, job creation and economic success.

And a lot of these companies are sticking around.

"We know that they're going to be a few in there that are going to do dramatic things, not only to create great jobs and great opportunities, but to ultimately impact the world," said Gregory Deason.

Massey says he feels bad for other universities not placing the same emphasis on entrepreneurship. But he looks forward to how the university will continue helping his company grow.

"It's a sign that they're definitely moving in the right direction. There's going to be even bigger things to come from this," said Massey.
President Daniels says the university will continue to do everything it can to help entrepreneurs succeed.

He says one day, it could benefit Purdue financially, but he says it's not the goal.

It's the creation of jobs and services.

Of those 165 companies created since 2013, 93 are still here in Greater Lafayette.

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