Rose-Hulman Ventures Reaches the Big 2-0 Turning Ideas into Tech Innovations

Wednesday, December 09, 2020
Student intern working on hand sanitizing stations at Ventures.

Rose-Hulman Ventures’ student interns have had valuable hands-on experiences while working with project managers to develop technology solutions for an all-time high 41 clients this year and 175 projects during the past three years.

What do you call a place that turns ideas into game-changing technology while giving tomorrow’s science, technology, engineering, and math leaders hands-on experience under real-world pressures to produce?

You call it Rose-Hulman Ventures.

You also call it experienced, because, since its opening on the institute’s South Campus slightly over 20 years ago, Rose-Hulman Ventures has touched thousands of lives while helping clients realize their entrepreneurial goals.

“We are excited to celebrate this milestone anniversary,” said 1993 electrical engineering alumnus Brian Dougherty, one of Ventures’ first employees who is now its senior director. “In the last two decades, we’ve helped hundreds of companies develop life-saving medical devices, improve operational efficiencies, introduce new products, and break new ground in their industries. The best part is that our students are deeply involved, gaining first-hand experience, and discovering what it’s like to build an idea into a functioning device or product.”

Ventures assisted a record 41 clients in 2020 and has worked on 175 projects during the past three years. Clients pay Ventures for the expertise of its long-serving project managers and the creative wits and hard work of Rose-Hulman students.

Started in 2000 with a $30 million Lilly Endowment Inc. grant, Ventures was originally a traditional business incubator with an educational component. Under the leadership of the late Jim Eifert, Ventures partnered with and invested in, startup businesses to foster economic growth in the Wabash Valley and beyond while giving hands-on work experience to students. Through the years, Ventures’ focus has shifted totally toward fostering economic growth through new product development, while retaining its educational mission.

“Ventures has been an enterprise that showcases what can happen when education and business work together to bring innovative projects from original idea to creation and, eventually, implementation in the marketplace,” said Rose-Hulman President Robert A. Coons. “That creation journey has provided our students with valuable hands-on work experiences that have accentuated our education mission and opened avenues for STEM careers.”

Dougherty added, “We’ve developed products and prototypes for clients in virtually every industry, including health care, aerospace, automotive, consumer goods, law, real estate, and robotics.”

An early partnership with NICO Corporation introduced a revolutionary device for minimally invasive brain surgery. Ventures also worked with FAST Biomedical on technology to help patients facing kidney disease, a device to identify patients at risk of sudden, fatal heart attacks, and a revolutionary device to help doctors more efficiently treat broken bones.

There are other successful projects and satisfied clients of Rose-Hulman Ventures’ services.

Clients frequently praise the students and project managers at Ventures for their innovative thinking, excellent communication skills, and for allowing companies to retain all of their intellectual property. That’s a major difference between Ventures and other college tech development and transfer enterprises.

“Ventures was super easy to work with,” stated Andrew Dragon, a staff development engineer with Borg Warner. “What they designed was very adaptable and very flexible. But the biggest thing was the turnaround time. That was really great.”

Ventures helped BorgWarner create a more efficient, yet easy-to-develop, stator for electric motors. Like many clients, the Michigan-based maker of automotive parts and components was seeking a fresh perspective on a long-standing technological challenge.

“I had always done everything in house until I ran into Rose-Hulman Ventures. Ventures is perfect for the type of work we do,” said Tom Ward, founder and president of OmniSite, an Indianapolis-based maker of critical systems alarms.

Ventures’ 35,000-square-foot off-campus facility includes 3D printers, Computer-aided Design (CAD) machines, software development labs, electronic testing and research equipment, a fully equipped machine shop, and team meeting spaces. More than 1,300 Rose-Hulman students have earned valuable work experience at Ventures. This past summer interns created hundreds of hand sanitizer stations for use by Terre Haute businesses and the Rose-Hulman campus.

“Ventures has an amazing history and a great future ahead,” Dougherty said. “I can’t wait to see what the next 20 years will bring.”

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