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UPDATE: Purdue has accepted controversial gift

March 15, 2007

Purdue University is expected to announce tomorrow that it has received a major gift from a foundation that at least two public and private schools have rejected, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Purdue would be the first public university in the country to sign a deal with the Alfred E. Mann Foundation for Biomedical Engineering, which has been trying to give $100-million endowments to schools to finance commercialization of their inventions.

Purdue has scheduled a new conference to make what it calls, “a major new program to promote economic development that will be funded through the largest single gift for research the university has ever received.”

The Chronicle says Purdue has been in talks with the Santa Clarita, Calif.-based Mann Foundation for more than a year. The gift will raise eyebrows, though, because the foundation is said to want too much control over the university’s intellectual property rights.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University turned down a similar gift a year ago. At the time, the schools said the foundation’s requirement to choose the most promising inventions would conflict with other research agreements.

The foundation requires that the money be put into a separate not-for-profit entity, the Alfred Mann Institute, which would be jointly controlled by the foundation and the school, the Chronicle said.

Only one U.S. school, the private University of Southern California, has accepted a Mann Foundation gift, the Chronicle said.

IBJ reported yesterday that the university planned a major donation.

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