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Alumnus James R. Baumgardt Inspires Entrepreneurship & Risk Taking

June 9, 2011

Launching summer Distinguished Speakers Series at Rose-Hulman Ventures

With an inspiring talk about leadership and innovation, life sciences entrepreneur James R. Baumgardt launched the eponymous James R. Baumgardt Distinguished Speaker's series, Rose-Hulman Ventures' annual summer series for students, faculty and staff.

James R. Baumgardt  

"You plan your work and you work your plan.  And, you do it aggressively," Baumgardt told the group on June 8.  He also outlined three characteristics of successful people: An undeniable desire to succeed, good interpersonal skills and being a self-starter.

Baumgardt told students serving as summer interns at Rose-Hulman Ventures to be boldly confident in themselves and the education they're receiving at Rose-Hulman as they step into their futures.

"Don't hesitate to take risks," he said.  "Don't hesitate to think you're good.  If you get out of this place, you are (good)."

Baumgardt also accentuated Rose-Hulman Ventures' role in new product development, especially in the area of medical devices.

"In the area of development, Rose-Hulman Ventures is a key player in the Research-and-Development cycle.  You're the 'D' in R&D," he stated.  "More companies and enterprises are coming to Rose-Hulman Ventures for the new product development expertise that you possess."

Renaming of Rose-Hulmann Ventures' Summer Speaker Series for Baumgardt recognizes the career accomplishments of the 1970 chemical engineering alumnus.  He is the chairman of the board for the NICO Corporation, is director of Neochord Inc. and is a partner of Twilight Ventures, an Indiana-based life science venture capital enterprise.  He is the former executive director of business development at Eli Lilly and Company, served as president of the Guidant Foundation, was president of Guidant Sales Corporation, is the former director of Laserscope and helped co-found Suros Surgical Systems.

Baumgardt is also an emeritus member of the Rose-Hulman Board of Trustees and former chairman of the trustees' Rose-Hulman Ventures Affairs Committee.  He received an honorary doctorate in engineering from Rose-Hulman in 2010, and serves on the advisory boards of Butler University's School of Business and Purdue University's School of Biomedical Engineering.

        Baumgardt w students

Learning Lunch: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students serving as summer interns at Rose-Hulman Ventures had the opportunity to exchange ideas and get career advice from James R. Baumgardt, who has had many entrepreneurial success stories in the life science field.

"We're honored to have Jim Baumgardt share his insights and experiences with our student interns at Rose-Hulman Ventures," stated Richard Stamper, interim associate dean of professional experiences and professor of mechanical engineering. "Jim has demonstrated the ability to create technology driven businesses in the medical devices industry that improve the care that patients receive.  He has much to teach anyone that wants to be innovative and create value in technology based companies.  We're lucky that he is willing to share that with our students.

Other speakers in this summer's series will feature Claudia Fritsche, ambassador of Liechtenstein to the United States, on June 22, and Wes Bolsen, chief marketing officer and vice president of government affairs for Coskata Inc., a biology-based energy company, on July 13.

Fritsche has been Liechtenstein's ambassador since 2000 and also serves as the countries ambassador to the United Nations, a post she has had since 1990.  She began her public career as the personal secretary of Liechtenstein's prime minister, from 1970-78, and entered the diplomatic service in the Office of Foreign Affairs. 

Bolsen, a 2000 electrical engineering alumnus, was voted 57th on Biofuels Digest's "Top 100 People in Bioenergy" and was recently named top Chief Marketing Officer of companies with less than $250 million in revenue in the U.S.  Coskata uses proprietary microorganisms and patented bioreactor designs to produce FlexEthanol, on feedstock flexible ethanol, to fuel energy security, economic growth and environmental sustainability.

Rose-Hulman Ventures, located at Rose-Hulman's South Campus, takes educational hands-on projects to a whole new dimension.  It is a unique operational model for university/industry interaction.

Rose-Hulman Ventures produces solutions to industrial technology challenges, keeps intellectual property with the client and maintains confidentiality.  Learn more at