KU News Release

March 17, 2011
Contact: Joe Monaco, University Communications, 785-864-7100

Two KU startup companies acquired by industry leaders

LAWRENCE — Two University of Kansas startup companies have been acquired by leaders in their industries, further demonstrating the value and reputation of KU research in the market.

Lawrence-based Computerized Assessments and Learning LLC, which was created in 2005 to commercialize KU computerized assessment technology, has been acquired by Educational Testing Service of Princeton, N.J., a global leader in college placement tests and other standardized assessments.

Lenexa-based CyDex Pharmaceuticals Inc., which was created in 1993 to commercialize KU drug delivery technology, has been acquired by Ligand Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company in La Jolla, Calif., specializing in drug discovery and development.

Both CAL and CyDex will operate as wholly owned subsidiaries and expect to maintain current employment levels.

CAL and CyDex are the first KU startups to be acquired since ProQuest Pharmaceuticals was acquired by Guilford Pharmaceuticals in December 2004. There are currently 22 KU-based startups in operation, either on their own or as subsidiaries of other companies.

“These acquisitions show KU research is some of the best work in the country,” said Julie Goonewardene, associate vice chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship and president of KU’s Center for Technology Commercialization. “When major companies invest in KU startups, that’s an incredible endorsement of the underlying research. At KU, we’re working to encourage an entrepreneurial mindset among our researchers so we can continue to develop products that benefit people everywhere.”

Educational Testing Service confirmed the CAL acquisition Jan. 10. Ligand finalized the CyDex acquisition Jan. 26.

“CAL and CyDex are great examples of how KU research creates jobs and brings new products to the market,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “KU emphasizes scholarship that benefits Kansas and the world, including research that leads to new businesses, a growing economy and an enhanced quality of life.”

CAL was formed by KU researchers John Poggio, Abel Leon and Douglas Glasnapp to market assessment systems and products developed in cooperation with KU’s Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation. Over the past six years, CAL has created the nation’s most up-to-date computerized assessment platform. This online system is used in several states, including Kansas, Idaho, Alaska, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Washington and South Carolina.

“Since its inception, CAL has delivered outstanding online testing solutions for students, teachers and K-12 system administrators,” Poggio said. “We expect CAL’s capacity to grow through this partnership with ETS. CAL’s success is a great example of how KU research is translated into products and services that benefit real people, all people, in real ways.”

CyDex was founded to commercialize drug formulation technologies developed by scientists at KU’s Higuchi Biosciences Center. The company is best known for its development of Captisol, a compound that binds with pharmaceutical products to improve their stability and solubility.

“This transaction marks the beginning of a new chapter in CyDex’s history,” said CyDex co-founder Valentino Stella, University Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at KU, who has launched three KU-based startups. “CyDex will continue delivering pharmaceutical products that improve the quality of life for patients in Kansas and around the world, and we’re proud that the CyDex story began in labs at KU.”

About the Center for Technology Commercialization

The Center for Technology Commercialization works with researchers at all KU campuses to protect their creative ideas and assist in the commercial development of their inventions. The outcomes include patents, licensing agreements and company startups in a variety of fields. The center promotes entrepreneurism among faculty, staff and students, and reinvests funds in support of further research. The center serves the university community from offices on the Lawrence and medical center campuses.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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