Academia and small business research units are poised to play an increasing role in drug discovery, with drug repurposing as one of the major areas of activity. Here we summarize project status for a number of drugs or classes of drugs: raltegravir, cyclobenzaprine, benzbromarone, mometasone furoate, astemizole, R-naproxen, ketorolac, tolfenamic acid, phenothiazines, methylergonovine maleate and beta-adrenergic receptor drugs, respectively. Based on this multi-year, multi-project experience we discuss strengths and weaknesses of academic-based drug repurposing research. Translational, target and disease foci are strategic advantages fostered by close proximity and frequent interactions between basic and clinical scientists, which often result in discovering new modes of action for approved drugs. On the other hand, lack of integration with pharmaceutical sciences and toxicology, lack of appropriate intellectual coverage and issues related to dosing and safety may lead to significant drawbacks. The development of a more streamlined regulatory process world-wide, and the development of pre-competitive knowledge transfer systems such as a global healthcare database focused on regulatory and scientific information for drugs world-wide, are among the ideas proposed to improve the process of academic drug discovery and repurposing, and to overcome the “valley of death” by bridging basic to clinical sciences.