June 26, 2023
Purdue-launched solid rocket motor-maker Adranos flies off with Anduril
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Adranos Inc., a Purdue-originated company that grew from a doctoral project into an impactful company, has been acquired by a major Costa Mesa, California-based defense products company, Anduril Industries.
Terms of the deal were settled, and the acquisition was announced on Sunday (June 25) in The Wall Street Journal that Anduril Industries is to purchase Adranos, manufacturer of solid rocket motors and maker of ALITEC, a high-performance solid rocket fuel that gives greater payload capacity, range and speed to launch systems.
“The success of Adranos is the latest manifestation of Purdue’s heritage of flying with innovation and signifies three growing strengths at our university in recent years: startup creation by Boilermakers, national security and defense research for America, and economic development in Discovery Park District,” said Purdue President Mung Chiang. “Many future successes will be delivered in these directions through Purdue Innovates, Purdue Applied Research Institute and the Hard Tech Corridor.”
Brandon Terry invented ALITEC in 2015 while he was a postdoctoral student in Purdue’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics and continued his work at Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering. Both schools are consistently ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News & World Report. With help from Chris Stoker, an MBA graduate and Doctor of Law from Indiana University, Terry created business plans for ALITEC, a more powerful and more efficient solid rocket fuel that is also less damaging to the environment. Stoker and Terry went on to co-found Adranos, where Stoker is CEO and Terry is chief technology officer.
After the company was founded, Adranos participated in Purdue Innovates’ accelerator program in the Startup Foundry, which gave the company access to mentors, investors and other valuable resources. Adranos also leveraged connections with the Foundry’s alumni network and received guidance from Purdue alumni who had expertise in defense and space industry. Purdue’s growing reputation as a leader in entrepreneurship played a pivotal role in establishing Adranos’ credibility, helping attract investors, partners and talent.
Purdue University provides an intentional environment for startups to thrive. The resources available through Purdue Innovates, connections to an abundant innovation ecosystem and access to Purdue-affiliated facilities have played a pivotal role in the success and rapid scaling of Adranos, solidifying the university’s reputation as a driving force behind transformative startups.
“As Purdue rose to world leadership in patents and startups, it was inevitable that great successes like Adranos would follow” said Mitch Daniels, board chair of Purdue Research Foundation and former Purdue University President. “We’re enormously proud not only from a business standpoint but also of the contribution this Purdue innovation will make to the security of our nation.
“We created the environment for Purdue startups to thrive and succeed. Adranos is a homegrown Boilermaker success story, joining a growing list of acquisitions like Dr. Phil Low’s startup, Endocyte, who inked a $2.1 billion acquisition deal. We anticipate there will be many other companies to follow in their footsteps.”
Adranos broke ground on a rocket fuel production facility in 2020 at Purdue Research Park. The company received financial support from the Purdue Research Foundation and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to construct the facility, which opened in West Lafayette in September 2022. Adranos also has a solid rocket motor production facility in Mississippi and an engineering office in Alabama.
“Purdue University and the Purdue Research Foundation played critical roles in the success of Adranos. While I was a postdoc at Purdue, I was given the resources and opportunities to convert a conceptual innovation into reality” said Terry, Adranos CTO.
“Additionally, thanks to the Purdue Research Foundation, Adranos was able to transform its lab-scale technical innovation into a state-of-the-art rocket fuel production facility. We have been able to move so fast because of Purdue’s amazing entrepreneurial resources, specifically the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship and technical leadership.”
Terry used the commercialization and innovation resources now aggregated under Purdue Innovates, a program that houses the Office of Technology Commercialization, which seeks to build up products and ideas and get them out of the lab and into society. Purdue University has consistently ranked among the top 10 most innovative universities in the U.S. for five consecutive years and holds the impressive position of being the fifth-ranked university in the world for utility patents.
Adranos “is an excellent example of Purdue intellectual property making its way out of the lab, into a startup, and making a real-world impact” in this program, said Brooke Beier, senior vice president of Purdue Innovates. “This demonstrates the entrepreneurial nature of our Boilermaker students. A PhD student participated in components of what now make up Purdue Innovates, located their company in Purdue Research Park and now has a successful exit. From start to finish, Adranos demonstrates the success of the services and principles that constitute the Purdue Research Foundation.
“We created the startup supportive environment and Adranos capitalized on the offerings and put in a tremendous amount of work. As we work to build a strong and unique deal flow with our Purdue Angel Network, we are seeking wins where the startup exits by being acquired or through an IPO. Adranos’ acquisition exit is a clear win for the Purdue Innovates team.”