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  • Purdue Awarded $100M for Biomed Research
Mar 2007
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., March 16, 2007 -- The Mann Foundation for Biomedical Engineering has announced a $100 million gift to endow an Alfred Mann Institute at Purdue University. The university-based institute is designed to enable the commercialization of innovative biomedical technologies that improve human health. The announcement was made during a joint news conference today at Purdue's Biomedical Engineering Building in Discovery Park.

The $100 million endowment is the largest single endowment ever created for Purdue.

"Through Purdue's Alfred Mann Institute for Biomedical Development, we are participating in a new model of university technology transfer for a new century," said Purdue President Martin C. Jischke. "Through the Purdue Research Park, we already have an effective strategy for technology transfer. But we now can enhance our capabilities to meet the growing need to translate our faculty members' discoveries into useful products.
Ozan Akkus, an associate professor at Purdue's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, conducts research on crystals such as monosodium urate and calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate. These crystals can accumulate in the synovial fluid and lead to gout, which results in severe inflammation and arthritis in joint spaces. The research could help improve diagnosis of the crystal species in synovial fluid samples; it is just one example of biomedical engineering research conducted at the university. (Photo: Purdue News Service/David Umberger)
"Our agreement states that preferential consideration will be given to Indiana companies wanting to license the university technologies that are further developed by the Alfred Mann Institute at Purdue. This university-private sector partnership can have a tremendous impact on economic development in Indiana and elsewhere, and on the well-being of people everywhere."

The Alfred Mann Institute at Purdue is the third of a minimum of 12 such institutes that the Mann Foundation for Biomedical Engineering plans to create at certainentrepreneurial research universities by 2012. The first became operational in 2001 at the University of Southern California, and it established the second one in October at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

alfredmann.jpgAlfred Mann, a medical device entrepreneur and prominent philanthropist, said his goal is to build a bridge between academia and industry in order to accelerate getting these health-related products to doctors and their patients.

"Through Purdue's Discovery Park and the Purdue Research Park, the university has fostered an interdisciplinary approach to biomedical research that allows for important collaborations between engineering and biomedical sciences," Mann said. "The university's proven track record of interdisciplinary research and its extraordinary academic leadership and entrepreneurial spirit were key in its selection for this partnership."

Purdue's new $25 million Biomedical Engineering Building, which houses the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. (Photo: Purdue News Service/David Umberger) 
The institute's agreement is between the Purdue Research Foundation, which oversees the Purdue Research Park, and the Alfred Mann Foundation. The institute will be housed in 30,000 square feet at Purdue's Discovery Park, where researchers use a multidisciplinary approach to advance research.

"Partnering with the Alfred Mann Foundation for Biomedical Engineering provides an additional avenue to move our inventions from the laboratory, through the commercialization process and to the public," said Joseph Hornett, senior vice president, treasurer and COO of the Purdue Research Foundation. "The agreement between the Alfred Mann Foundation and the Purdue Research Foundation is a fifty-fifty partnership."

The Alfred Mann Institute at Purdue will have a board of 10 directors, composed equally of Purdue and Mann Foundation representatives. Mann or his designee will be chairman.

The institute will help identify approximately two new biomedical projects per year out of the hundreds at Purdue with commercialization potential, growing to as many as six ongoing projects when in full operation.

"The goal is to increase the likelihood that biomedical technologies are brought to full development with speed and sufficient capital," Mann said.

The institute will enhance industry-standard product design and development skills already established at the campus, furthering movement of select intellectual property toward product development. The goal is not only speed but also to substantially enhance the value of those technologies before licensing, sale and spinout."

The institute is designed to add value through four key phases: intellectual property analysis and project selection, market analysis, product development and creation of an exit strategy for the technology.

As part of project selection, a preliminary analysis of the intellectual property will be conducted, focusing on the quality of the science and the perceived markets for the potential product/technology and the freedom to commercialize with regard to other existing intellectual properties. A market analysis will include clinical assessment of projected end users; analysis of current and emerging competitors; and analysis and review of the intellectual property's position, regulatory strategy, reimbursement landscape and market trends.

"A product development process that meets industry standards will help ensure that an eventually approvable and cost-effectively manufactured product fits market needs," the university said in a statement.

Faculty at the Indiana University School of Medicine will engage in the research and clinical testing of some of the products. In addition, the institute's staff and the Mann Foundation will establish relationships with outside entities that acquire emerging biomedical technologies. These relationships will provide opportunities for licensing, sale or spinout of the institute's enhanced biomedical technology, the university said.

Royalties and financial returns for technologies transferred through the institute also were negotiated.

"Purdue and the Alfred Mann Foundation worked closely to develop a plan that was fair to all parties involved, including researchers, the university and the foundation," said George Wodicka, professor and head of the Purdue Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

"The product development conducted by the Alfred Mann Institute at Purdue will result in a substantially greater probability of the technologies reaching the market and the patient than if the technologies were handled through the traditional steps used by universities," Dahms said. "Universities that license biomedical technology at the basic research/discovery stage are likely to receive 1 percent of the royalties the product is capable of generating, if and when that product is ultimately commercialized."

Mann predicted that the likelihood of commercialization and rate of return can increase fivefold or more when manufacturing prototypes are completed by the university-based institute. These rates of return can be further increased if transfer to industry occurs closer to the point of Food and Drug Administration approval or certification.

The agreement allows Purdue's other technology transfer routes, such as direct licensing to established companies or early creation of startup companies at the Purdue Research Park.

Purdue has a long history of collaborating with companies outside the university.

"We have worked with many Indiana partners, helping to make our state fourth in the nation in the production of medical devices," Wodicka said.

Purdue's medical device partners within Indiana include: Cook Group Inc. in West Lafayette and Bloomington, Hill-Rom Co. in Batesville, DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. in Warsaw, Bioanalytical Systems Inc. in West Lafayette, SonarMed Inc. in Indianapolis, Optical Vitals Inc. in Indianapolis, Zimmer Inc. in Warsaw, Biomet Inc. in Warsaw, Fort Wayne Metals Inc. in Fort Wayne and Suros Surgical Systems Inc. in Indianapolis.

Examples of biomedical engineering technologies that have been developed at Purdue include new devices that monitor the vital signs of premature babies; synthetic and natural "biomaterials" used in surgery to repair and regenerate diseased or damaged tissues, such as bladders, blood vessels, ligaments, skin and eyes; longer-lasting artificial joints and novel minimally invasive orthopedic devices; and computer models that simulate the mechanical properties and function of hard and soft tissues to understand the early onset of maladies like stress fractures.

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