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Purdue celebrates a decade of innovation at Discovery Park

April 20, 2012


Purdue celebrated the 10th anniversary of Discovery Park on Friday (April 20) with a reception and special lecture on innovation to mark a decade of discovery with delivery.

Thought leader and entrepreneur Frans Johansson, author of the best-selling "Medici Effect: Groundbreaking Innovation at the Intersection of Disciplines & Cultures," delivered a Discovery Lecture Series talk at 3:30 p.m. in Stewart Center's Loeb Playhouse. The lecture, which drew an audience of more than 325 people, was sponsored by Discovery Park and the Lilly Endowment.

A reception to celebrate Discovery Park's 10th anniversary followed at 5 p.m. in Stewart Center, Room 302. 

"We're excited to be celebrating Purdue's achievements through Discovery Park and the many strong interdisciplinary Purdue programs with these fascinating lectures that are open to the community," said Alan Rebar, executive director of Discovery Park and senior associate vice president for research at Purdue.

Purdue also unveiled a new video that highlights Discovery Park's contributions to the university's interdisciplinary research efforts. The video can be viewed by going online to

Planning for Discovery Park was launched in 2001 with a $5 million commitment from the state of Indiana for a nanotechnology center. Today, Discovery Park is a research and learning complex with eight core centers and five buildings. A sixth research center, the $15.9 million Multidisciplinary Cancer Research Facility that will be attached to the Bindley Bioscience Center, is slated to begin construction this year.

More than 4,000 faculty members and students at Discovery Park use an interdisciplinary approach to tackle today's challenges. It has helped Purdue recruit more than 300 new faculty members, many drawn to new research facilities and equipment. As a driver for economic development, Discovery Park has assisted the launch of more than 30 companies its first 10 years. Forty patents patents have been generated based on research at the park.

Translated into 18 languages, Johansson's "The Medici Effect" examines how innovation happens, asking such questions as what goat milk, spiders and fishing lines have in common. Or music records and airlines? Or ant behavior and telecommunications routing?

Most would assume nothing, Johansson says. But out of each of these seemingly random combinations have come radical innovations that have created whole new fields. "The Medici Effect" was named one of the top 10 best business books by in 2004.

In this talk, Johansson will highlight the journey to the "Intersection," a place where ideas from different fields and cultures meet and collide, ultimately igniting an explosion of new innovations.

Johansson, who was raised in Sweden by his African-American-Cherokee mother and Swedish father, earned a bachelor's degree in environmental science from Brown University and an MBA at Harvard Business School. He founded a Boston-based software company and a medical device company operating out of Baltimore and Stockholm.

In addition to Johansson's lecture, three other talks are being offered this month in conjunction with the Purdue's Discovery Lecture Series and Discovery Park's 10th anniversary celebration. They are focused on conservation and addressing challenging global problems through innovation. More information about those events is available at

For an interview of Frans Johansson about his lecture by WBAA, the NPR affiliate in West Lafayette, go online to:


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