Cook Medical, Purdue fuel $12M fund for life sciences startups

Two Indiana heavyweights announced a partnership that means more funds for life science startups in the Hoosier state. Cook Medical and the Purdue Research Foundation will pair up again to create the Foundry Investment Fund, a $12-million not-for-profit “evergreen investment fund to support Purdue-based life sciences companies,” according to a press release. This isn’t the […]

Two Indiana heavyweights announced a partnership that means more funds for life science startups in the Hoosier state. Cook Medical and the Purdue Research Foundation will pair up again to create the Foundry Investment Fund, a $12-million not-for-profit “evergreen investment fund to support Purdue-based life sciences companies,” according to a press release.

This isn’t the first duet these two organizations have played together. Cook and Purdue have a linked history. Cook Biotech, which makes regenerative wound care products, was founded nearly two decades ago based on Purdue discoveries.

The fund will work with outside investors (angels, VCs, you name it) to match funding to nurture Purdue-raised life sciences tech as it moves from promising idea potentially to profitable startup. How will the fund sustain itself? Just like any other savvy investory: Any ROI will “remain in the fund for future investments.”

“In a nutshell, the fund is designed to be a matching fund – it will match 10 to 30 percent of new capital flowing into companies commercializing Purdue technology or using Purdue knowhow,” Purdue Research Foundation Entrepreneur-in-Residence John Hanak said in an email. Once the investor has done “significant” due diligence, the Foundry’s board will “determine the percentage of match, if any,  and the total amount that will be appropriate under the circumstance. Pre-authorization of specified amounts by the company seeking funding will also be considered – which we think will provide an incentive to the lead investors,” he said.

“Clearly, raising capital is one of the most challenging endeavors that entrepreneurs face, and offering a match of funds from the Foundry Investment Fund will help drive interest in our life sciences companies and draw funding opportunities from across the country,” Dan Hasler, Purdue Research Foundation president and CEO, said in the release.

“Converting Purdue innovation into new products, companies and jobs is perhaps the most valuable way for our university to live up to its land grant heritage and contribute to the progress of our state,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels (yes, for those of you playing at home, he is the former Republican Indiana governor) said in a press release.

Hasler’s been at the wheel of the research foundation for less than a year, and since he’s taken the helm, there have been many big developments in commercializing life sciences tech from the school. Purdue announced last fall it would partner with GE to help commercialize the university’s discoveries, including its medical diagnostic imaging and biological testing technologies.

This partnership speaks to a larger trend of pushing for more serious life sciences commercialization in academic tech transfer offices. The Arizona Furnace and the Engine at University of Utah are other strong examples. Such programs take some of the sting out of the risk of investing in an early-stage company, while pushing technology out into the business world that — in more traditional tech transfer spaces — might otherwise find its way to a shelf.

Hanak said the Foundry will get the ball rolling as soon as possible.

Next question: Which Boilermaker tech will be the first to attract a lead investor and have its team apply for the matching funds?

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