Purdue Foundry fostering 15-25 startups a year + scary but cool AI stories – December 16, 2019
"The problem with troubleshooting is that trouble shoots back." Author Unknown
December 16, 2019
Purdue Foundry: Creating businesses around technology
John Hanak, managing director of Purdue Ventures
The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurial hub on the Purdue University campus that helps founders create businesses around their technology. Flyover Future touched base with John Hanak, managing director of Purdue Ventures at the Purdue Foundry to talk about the program.
Hanak: We created the Foundry in 2013 and identified as one of our strategic imperatives to make it easier for researchers—whether faculty, students, or staff—to commercialize technology through a startup.
We’ve averaged anywhere between 15 and 25 startups per year that are commercializing Purdue intellectual property. We focus on moving technologies in the marketplace, but we also assist others who come to us from the community and from around the state.
Purdue Ventures is a part of the Foundry and focuses on providing access to talent and capital for the startups we work with. We have $40 million in assets under management and are the 10th-largest private equity and venture entity in the state.
The Foundry is instrumental in the ideation phase. We will take them through an ideation, work on a rudimentary business plan, then certification, and then we can license the technology from the university.
What are the most surprising insights you’ve drawn from the data of a particular client?
Hanak: I’ve worked with more than 250 startups, and I would go so far as to say that building the right team and bringing the right talent is a necessary precursor to raising capital. Investors really invest in a team as much as in a technology. They believe the team is vital to moving the tech into the marketplace.
What can West Lafayette do to support entrepreneurs in direct and helpful ways?
What is the best thing about having a startup in flyover country?
As a result, what I’m seeing today is that West Coast firms are looking at deals in the Midwest and are looking to commercialize technology—but they’re no longer asking them to move to the coast. In fact, people who have been part of the startup scenes on the coasts have begun moving back to the Midwest because of our core beliefs and values, especially when they want to raise families.
AI & ROBOTICS
Off Hours gives smart device owners control over how they operate
Image Via Youtube
As smart home devices proliferate (about one-third of homes with broadband have them), so do the opportunities for data collection, spying, and other creepy internet behavior. And even though you may use them only sparingly, they are always on, collecting data and leaving you vulnerable to eavesdropping. An Iowa entrepreneur is trying to mitigate the risk through a clever app that turns off your wireless router when you are not home, you're asleep, or you simply want to spend a few hours in 1987.
The app, Off Hours, is still in the testing mode but the idea is pretty simple: It changes your router’s default setting from always on to normally off. Anytime you want to turn it on, whether you’re at home or not, you simply open the app and tap to turn it on. You can manage a timer to turn it off or on automatically during sleep or work hours and set it to come on automatically when you’re on your way home. Besides the security enhancement, the app also seems like a fun way to freak out the kids. The company plans a crowdfunding campaign, with mass production to follow.
PrecisionHawk get $32 million for drone tech
The commercial drone industry has grown faster than anticipated and the market is expected to reach $13 billion by 2025.
Commercial drone and data company PrecisionHawk, headquartered in Raleigh, is the industry’s poster child, having just landed a $32 million investment from Millennium Technology Value Partners, Third Point Ventures, Eastward Capital Partners, and others, bringing its financing so far to more than $100 million. The investment will help PrecisionHawk advance a multifaceted technology that includes advanced robotics, robust software, and rich data.
PrecisionHawk uses drones to monitor energy, telecom spaces, and agriculture and then provides actionable data to help businesses grow. The company hired 100 people in the first quarter of 2019 and is expected to raise its headcount to 350.
PrecisionHawk CEO Michael Chasen told WRAL TechWire that he is thankful for the “state-wide leadership from the NC Department of Transportation( NCDOT). North Carolina has been one of the states at the forefront of drone policy and driving widespread adoption.”
Laser hacking your voice-activated digital assistants
Today's wildly comforting tech news comes to us from the University of Michigan, where researchers announced they successfully hacked multiple voice-activated digital assistants (think Siri, Alexa, Google Home, etc.) using simple lasers and flashlights. A team of U-M computer science and electrical engineering researchers, working alongside counterparts at the University of Electro-Communications in Japan, studied the “light flaw” for seven months and successfully activated the digital assistants' microphones by shining lasers at them. The laser light replicated sound vibrations, at which point the researchers then took control of the various devices from afar.
In an announcement that reassured literally no one, U-M associate professor Kevin Fu said in a press release, “This opens up an entirely new class of vulnerabilities. It's difficult to know how many products are affected because this is so basic.”
Equating the discovery to an iceberg, Fu added, “There is this wide gap between what computers are supposed to do and what they actually do. With the internet of things, they can do unadvertised behaviors, and this is just one example.”
The research team notified tech heavyweights Apple, Google, and Amazon and carmakers Tesla and Ford, all of which said they would study the conclusions and assess strategies to mitigate the security threat, so you totally don't need to take refuge in a cave and swear off smart devices forever.
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Useless information that is strangely fascinating.
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