Moving innovations from research lab into the real world

June 2022 | Issue 4

In the journey from laboratory into the hands of an industry partner, an important step in technology transfer is the proof of concept process. This is the way of proving out that what works in the halls of our research campus is feasible in the real world.


VCU Innovation Gateway provides promising inventors with funding to support their work. Our Commercialization Fund, established in 2015, awards up to $50,000 for projects, with the intent of de-risking and setting the stage to acquire more funding or a licensing partner. We give these awards twice a year (in the spring and fall), and we announced the latest recipients just this week.


You will get to know a few of those researchers and others in this issue of Launchpad. We’re releasing these stories at the same time as VCU’s latest economic-impact report that shows our university and health system generates $9.5 billion in economic activity and supports 58,000 Virginia jobs. A significant portion of this impact comes through VCU and VCU Health’s contribution to the innovation ecosystem. In the past year, for example, Innovation Gateway nurtured 14 start-ups based on university intellectual property.


VCU research creates technologies and products that improve health and enrich quality of life within our communities. But we don’t operate alone — we know external partnerships are critical to our success, which is why we are focused on finding ways to collaborate with companies, investors, and entrepreneurs in our communities to nurture our innovations and startups.


We invite you to meet some of the VCU minds who are changing the world. And if you want to talk to any of them, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

Ivelina Metcheva, Ph.D., MBA

Assistant Vice President for Innovation

VCU Innovation Gateway

Meet Our Six Spring Commercialization Fund Recipients

From skeletal muscle research and virtual reality to aerosol drug delivery and immunotherapies, we're supporting promising technologies from skilled VCU researchers. Read More.

Honoring VCU's NAI Inductees


In April, Innovation Gateway and the College of Engineering co-hosted the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) reception, honoring eight inductees. Read the article on the event and see our downloadable photo gallery.

Quenching pharma’s thirst for more targeted aerosol drug delivery systems

As a Minnesota biotech company chases life-saving applications for their research, two VCU professors press forward on their work to use aerosols — tiny particles released into the airways — to deliver advanced drugs to those in need. Read more.

Miniaturizing lab instruments for real-world use

VCU College of Engineering professor Daren Chen, Ph.D. is building technologies that can be used in commercial settings to measure particulate toxicity in buildings and cities. Meet Dr. Chen.

Above & Beyond: Innovation Gateway Licensing Manager Brings Artistic Talents to the Job

Brent Fagg, an Innovation Gateway senior licensing manager, has undertaken a project to create colorful, imaginative murals on the walls of a research lab in the basement of VCU’s West Hospital. The high-tech virtual reality room is used by Nicholas D. Thomson, Ph.D., a forensic psychologist and longtime collaborator with the Innovation Gateway team who is researching treatments for at-risk youth.

See Brent's Work

Pursuing treatment for triple-negative breast cancer

If an investigational biologic that Youngman Oh, Ph.D. is developing secures FDA approvals, the new antibody treatment would greatly add to a doctor’s arsenal to fight triple-negative breast cancer. The highly invasive cancer generally spreads more quickly and has fewer treatment options and worse outcomes. That cancer can also develop resistance to current treatments. Read Dr. Oh's story (pictured here with Magdalena Morgan, Ph.D., Innovation Gateway Director of Licensing).

VCU invention may be answer to rape kits

still needing testing in U.S.

Could a microchip speed up the rape kit backlog? One VCU inventor supported by VCU Innovation Gateway has created a device that reduces the overall rape kit processing time from up to 6.5 hours down to 90 minutes. It also reduces forensic examiners’ hands-on time from about 3 hours to just 10 minutes, and allows for multiple kits to be tested simultaneously. Meet Tracy Dawson Green, Ph.D.

Innovation Gateway's 2021 Annual Report

A year of discoveries, partnerships, and the technologies of tomorrow

Released earlier this year, our 2021 Annual Report features stories of new partnerships and innovations from some of Virginia Commonwealth University's most brilliant minds:

  • Support for VCU startups through our partnership with Activation Capital
  • Nerve Tape, a revolutionary treatment for nerve regeneration after traumatic injuries, invented by Jonathan E. Isaacs, M.D.
  • Climatext, a data collection system to assess public sentiment developed by a team led by Aashir Nasim, Ph.D.
  • CoursFACTS, a course-scheduling software created by VCU School of Nursing Dean and Professor Jean Giddens, Ph.D., RN, FAAN
  • The Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale (RASS), a system for assessing comfort levels in ICU patients, made by Curt Sessler, M.D.
  • And groundbreaking Covid-19 research by VCU College of Engineering's Michael Peters, Ph.D.
Browse our Annual Report

VCU/VCU Health Impact on Virginia: $9.5 Billion

Virginia Commonwealth University and the VCU Health System generate $9.5 billion in economic activity and support 58,000 jobs in Virginia, according to a new report. Part of that impact comes from VCU and VCU Health’s contribution to the innovation ecosystem. Read more about the study. 

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