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Public Statements - Purdue Tech Center Evolving with Spirit of Discovery

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Location: Unknown

By John Davies

Which best describes the Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana?

Incubator for start-ups.
Accelerator for established companies with new discoveries.
A location for mature companies wanting a link with Purdue.

Following the news that Gov. Mitch Daniels will be the next president of Purdue, I had an opportunity to visit the Purdue Technology Center. I learned the center is evolving. It's a launching pad for discoveries, not just from a tech business, but from all companies whatever the stage of development.

The center itself captures the spirit of discovery. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky and now retired Purdue President Martin C. Jischke had a conversation about the success of the Purdue Research Park. From that discussion came the idea to build the first satellite outside the West Lafayette business park. This became the Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana.

Now there are four regional centers, each anchoring a research park launched by the Purdue Research Foundation. The first was in West Lafayette. Another is in New Albany. Another is in Indianapolis. The Purdue Technology Center is here, anchoring a 386-acre park in a joint venture with Holladay Properties.

What is the Purdue Technology Center today? It's all about ideas and taking them to commercialization. It can be a new company. It can be an established company that wants to launch new products. Or it can be a "big hitter" like Dow-AgraSciences. Dow opened a research facility and greenhouse in 2010 and a seed quality control facility in 2012 in the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette.

Why not bring a "big hitter" here? Indeed, Kathy DeGuilio-Fox of the Purdue Technology Center is looking for a company that wants similar access, and perhaps new markets in Chicagoland.

I met with the director, who is marking her eighth anniversary this month. Kathy started out as a business developer recruiting companies to come to the 48,000-square-foot center while it still was under construction in 2004.

She moved to the new center that December, when the front door was a sheet of plywood with a padlock on the front. Today, it has 60,000 square feet and is home to 28 companies.

One of her first companies she recruited was NuVant Systems LLC. After six years in the Purdue Technology Center, this company "graduated" this past month. It moved into a 5,000-square-foot new building in Crown Point to manufacture electronics and other high-tech products.

In the same month, a start-up led by Joseph Beckman moved into the center to launch a LED lighting business. More recently, IVDiagnostics, formerly in Valparaiso, moved there, one of two companies pursuing cancer research at the site.

So why should Northwest Indiana take a fresh look at the Purdue Technology Center? Having access to world-class resources that can take any business to the next level is a huge benefit for regional economic development.

John Davies is managing director, The Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana, launched by Ivy Tech Community College Northwest. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.

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