Rocketing to No. 6 internationally, No. 1 in Big Ten: Purdue among world leaders in patents

WEST LAFAYETTE — The whitest of white paints that could significantly reduce the cost of air-conditioning. A technology that could rescue parents from their worst nightmare, losing a baby on a ventilator because the child wriggled and moved the breathing tube. Clothing powered by Wi-Fi that could monitor health, and promising economically beneficial and environmentally friendly ways to turn plastics into fuels.

These are but a few of the recent patented innovations from Purdue University researchers striving to solve real-world problems and improve people’s lives. The list goes on and on. In fact, during the 2020 calendar year, only five universities in the world did it better than Purdue.

Purdue Research Foundation received 175 utility patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. That total ranks first in the state of Indiana, first in the Big Ten Conference and sixth internationally. Purdue is second among universities that do not have a school of medicine.

The No. 6 ranking is up from No. 13 the previous year. The only universities ahead of Purdue were the University of California system, MIT, Stanford University, the University of Texas system and Johns Hopkins University.

The information was listed in a report from the Intellectual Property Owners Association and the National Academy of Inventors.

“This shows the world what we already know: Purdue has intellectually curious, creative and risk-taking faculty and students and continues to be a key economic driver in the state of Indiana and a game-changer in discovery,” said Brian Edelman, president of the Purdue Research Foundation. “Purdue and the Purdue Research Foundation have put the structure in place — the ever-expanding Discovery Park District, the Purdue Research Park, Office of Technology Commercialization — where researchers can thrive and companies such as Rolls-Royce and Saab want to take advantage of the intellectual strengths. It’s one of the many reasons Purdue is a destination for some of the top research minds.”

In a year marked by a pandemic that brought the world to a standstill and severely handcuffed researchers by limiting lab team environments, Purdue scientists and innovators forged boldly ahead in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leaps. These are among the 2020 issued patents from the nation’s fifth most innovative school, according to U.S. News & World Report, and the third-ranked school in startup creation from 2008 to 2018, according to a report by the IPWatchdog Institute:

  • “Ionic Wind for Vacuum Generation” by Graham Cooks, the Henry B. Hass Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry, College of Science.
  • “Steroid Conjugates for Treatment of Inflammatory Disease” by Philip Low, Presidential Scholar for Drug Discovery and the Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry-Biochemistry in the Department of Chemistry, College of Science.
  • “Inexpensive Disposable Smart Bandages” by Ramses Martinez, assistant professor of industrial engineering and biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering.
  • “Antibacterial Agents Against Methicillin and Vancomycin-Resistant Bacteria” by Herman Sintim, Drug Discovery Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry, College of Science.
  • “Method for Recycling Plastic Waste” by Nien-Hwa Linda Wang, the Maxine Spencer Nichols Professor of Chemical Engineering in the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering.
  • “Alteration of the Plant Hormone Ethylene Response to Improve Stress Tolerance” by Gyeong Mee Yoon, assistant professor of plant pathology in the College of Agriculture.
Xiulin Ruan, a Purdue University professor of mechanical engineering, holds up his lab’s sample of the whitest paint on record. (Purdue University/Jared Pike)

The Purdue Research Foundation includes the Office of Technology Commercialization, which manages the technology transfer process to vet, protect and license innovations developed by university researchers.

Brooke Beier, the OTC’s vice president, said Purdue has a long and strong tradition of delivering innovations to the market.

“OTC has a dedicated team of professionals who work with researchers at all Purdue University campuses to vet and protect innovations that could impact the market,” Beier said. “Our goal always is to license the technologies to the best commercial match, whether that is an existing company or startup, to give Purdue innovations the best chance to improve the world.”

OTC manages a technology portfolio that covers innovations in several subject areas, including agriculture, computer technology, green technology, medical/health, pharmaceuticals and several others.

In the 2020 fiscal year, OTC:

  • Received 408 total disclosures from Purdue innovators, 379 invention disclosures and 29 copyright disclosures.
  • Filed 721 patent applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Received 252 U.S. and international patents.
  • Executed 148 licenses and options.
  • Received $13.6 million worth of gross revenue in royalty and licensing income ($11.74 million net).
  • Helped establish 22 startup companies.

Since 2001, OTC has:

  • Received 5,533 invention disclosures from university researchers.
  • Applied for 8,347 patents from U.S. and international organizations.
  • Received 2,403 patents from U.S. and international organizations.
  • Executed 2,043 licenses for businesses to commercialize Purdue innovations.
  • Helped create 266 startups based on Purdue innovations.
  • From 2006 to 2020, OTC received almost $76 million in revenue from licensing activity.

Information: Steve Martin,

Source: Brooke Beier