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"ANGEL Learning is 100 percent the result of both the intellectual investment and financial investment of the university."

Portrait of Professor Ali Jafari, whose start-up ANGEL Learning was created with help from IURTC.

Ali Jafari, Professor of Computer and Information Technology and Director of CyberLab

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Ali Jafari

Professor of Computer and Information Technology and Director of the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology CyberLab, IUPUI

Professor Ali Jafari and computer and information technology student David Mills thought the course management system they had developed together had commercial potential. In 2000, Professor Jafari began working with IURTC to create a for-profit start-up to market the software.

Their instincts proved correct. That company, ANGEL Learning, eventually grew to employ a team of 200 programmers, analysts, and sales and marketing personnel at its Indianapolis headquarters.  In May 2009, the company was bought for $100 million by Blackboard Inc., headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Professor Jafari says that while other course management systems were developed by university-trained researchers, ANGEL Learning is the only system that is “100 percent the result of both the intellectual investment and financial investment” of a university. “From that perspective, it is unique,” he says.

“This is our greatest success to date in terms of a university start-up company,” says IU President Michael A. McRobbie, who serves as chairman of IURTC. “It was made possible in part by the strategic investments IU made in information technology over the past decade.”

The sale of the company represents the largest commercial transaction linked to the sale of a university start-up company that IU has experienced. As a result, the university will realize $24 million for the sale, which will support more teaching and research activity.

Do you have a discovery that shows commercial potential? Learn how you can start your own company with help from IURTC, or contact an IURTC technology manager.