Lilly Endowment Gives $26 Million to Build Research Center

Purdue University has announced a gift of almost $26 million from the Lilly Endowment to build a research and education complex devoted to nanotechnology, bioscience/engineering, e-enterprise, and entrepreneurship.

The idea behind Discovery Park, as the complex will be called, is to encourage scientists from various disciplines to work together to make new discoveries and put them in close proximity to businesspeople that can turn their findings into products and services. In addition to the Lilly gift, the university will apply existing state and federal funds and private donations toward construction of the $100 million park. In September, Purdue announced a $30 million gift from alumnus Michael Birck and his wife Katherine for the construction of the park's Birck Nanotechnology Center, which will focus on the emerging science of building new materials and structures atom-by-atom or molecule-by-molecule.

"Universities can make tremendous strides in discovery and create substantial entrepreneurial momentum by breaking down the traditional barriers among academic disciplines and between institutions," said Purdue president Martin C. Jischke. "Discovery Park will be designed around the assumption that all relevant academic areas will participate as teams in each initiative. Engineers, physicians, scientists, entrepreneurs and geneticists all might be a part of a project as it moves from the idea stage to the marketplace."

For several years, the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment has invited selected Indiana colleges and universities to submit proposals for projects that will help the institutions achieve new levels of distinction and contribute to the well being of Indiana. Officials at the Endowment, which distributes three-quarters of its grants in its home state, said Purdue's Discovery Park project exceeded its expectations and should provide a lift to Indiana and its economy.