GO Virginia has announced that the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Engineering has been awarded a grant intended to spur economic development across the region. The $500,000 grant will support commercialization efforts to implement FDA-approved, sustainable pharmaceutical manufacturing in Virginia using innovative, low-cost technologies while also increasing the highly skilled workforce needed to support the pharmaceutical industry. This initiative will further demonstrate that new, advanced manufacturing technologies can help create an industry cluster or network of interrelated businesses to invent, build, and grow highly efficient pharmaceutical manufacturing with the potential for wide-ranging benefits across the state.

In its initial phase, VCU’s Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering will engage with Bright Path Pharmaceuticals, a pharmaceutical manufacturer, to commercialize new pharmaceutical manufacturing technologies. VCU and Bright Path intend to create jobs and grow economic activity in the region.

The GO Virginia award is further evidence of the continued progress of the Medicines for All Institute within the School of Engineering. The institute, which recently received additional funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is allowing B. Frank Gupton, Ph.D., the Floyd D. Gottwald Jr. Chair and chair of the Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering, to manufacture pharmaceuticals in ways that significantly lower costs and increase access to these lifesaving medications for people around the world.

“This funding from Go Virginia, coupled with additional support from the city of Richmond and other regional governmental entities, demonstrates broad-based support for initiatives that will create new, high-paying jobs and eventually reduce the cost of many pharmaceuticals,” says Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., the Alice T. and William H. Goodwin Chair and dean of the VCU School of Engineering. “It underscores that we are going in the right direction by creating collaborative relationships with companies like Bright Path that have the capability to deploy new technologies and bring beneficial changes to the world,” she adds.

As the first commercial partner, Bright Path Pharmaceuticals will combine VCU School of Engineering research with its own technologies to build low-cost, highly efficient pharmaceutical manufacturing systems expected to receive FDA approval and create new production capabilities for global markets. Bright Path is expected to bring significant operations to the Richmond area, says Tony Quinones, a founder of Bright Path Pharmaceuticals. “As a newcomer to the Richmond area, we are pleased to be part of the GO Virginia initiative and look forward to rapidly scaling up our operations. We are excited about the opportunities provided by the relationship with VCU Engineering,” Quinones said.

The partnership aims to create a Virginia-based industry network driven by rapid process innovation, development of new equipment, and a workforce to bring these advanced systems to a commercial level. It ultimately seeks to create partnerships across the state, with expansion to other for-profit and not-for-profit entities around the world.