By A.J. Hostetler
Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation
To support the rapid development of discoveries and inventions to fight COVID-19, Virginia Commonwealth University is making its faculty expertise more accessible to industry, entrepreneurs, hospitals and other researchers.
The Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, in collaboration with Innovation Gateway and the C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research, is working to help other organizations in their efforts to prevent, diagnose and treat the virus that causes COVID-19. The university is foregoing certain typical licensing fees during the pandemic.
“In addition to conducting our own biomedical research at VCU related to COVID-19, we are sharing what our faculty have discovered and developed to help others battle this pandemic,” said P. Srirama Rao, Ph.D., vice president for research and innovation.
Innovation Gateway operates under the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation and facilitates the commercialization of university inventions and promotes industry collaborations and economic development. During this ongoing pandemic, the university is offering nonexclusive, royalty-free licensing to hospitals and industry partners to use or manufacture VCU’s COVID-19 related inventions and products. Along with Stanford University, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, VCU is leading a nationwide effort for this action among research universities and their commercialization programs.
“In return for these royalty-free licenses, we ask the licensees to commit to distributing their resulting products as widely and inexpensively as possible to allow accessibility,” said Ivelina Metcheva, Ph.D., senior executive director of Innovation Gateway. The royalty-free period lasts through the pandemic and up to one year from signing, she said.
Innovation Gateway has also developed a web page outlining VCU technologies, including new inventions created specifically to fight COVID-19 as well as existing inventions that could be used or modified for that purpose.
In addition to ensuring access to new technologies, VCU has made available its standard operating procedures for research teams, including inventors and hospitals, to freely download and adapt to their environment to quickly support testing new drugs, devices or biologics related to COVID-19.
“These procedures are based upon VCU’s extensive experience in biomedical research, including research management and operations and human research protections,” said F. Gerard Moeller, M.D., director of the Wright Center and associate vice president for clinical research.
Nearly 200 requests, from Cornell University to Senegal’s Institute for Health Research, Epidemiological Surveillance and Training, were submitted through a Wright Center web portal. Requestors cited their need to develop standard operating procedures for clinical research, training and teaching.
“That is outstanding that you are offering a copy of VCU’s SOPs so that others may use them as a springboard,” wrote an employee at Penn State College of Medicine in an email thanking VCU.