VCU puts together a tinkerer’s paradise

Inside the Translational Research Innovation Projects facility. (Photos by Brandy Brubaker)

Inside the Translational Research Innovation Projects facility. (Photos by Brandy Brubaker)

VCU has a new place for faculty and graduate students to bring inventions to life.

The university recently opened the first phase of its the Translational Research Innovation Projects facility, or TRIP. It’s located in the BioTech One building at 800 E. Leigh St., next to VCU Medical Center. It’s using a space previously occupied by VCU Innovation Gateway, which relocated to the building’s third floor.

“It’s like an incubator for the VCU community,” said Joan Izzo, the engineering school’s spokeswoman. “This is a place they can come to make these devices. … All the equipment they need is right here.”

Those devices could be anything from advancements in medical supplies to new everyday products.

Franklin Bost shows off the center.

Franklin Bost shows off the center.

Part of the facility opened this month. Work began on the 2,400-square-foot space in early 2013 and cost about $400,000, said L. Franklin Bost, executive associate dean of the engineering school and designer of the facility. Another $200,000 was spent to buy high-tech equipment, such as a machine-tooling center, a computer-controlled lathe and 3D rapid prototyping equipment.

The construction of collaborative research labs, which will take up the rest of the 10,000-square-foot facility, will begin in January, end in August and cost about $4.5 million, Bost said.

The project is funded by VCU, and work is being led by VCU Facilities Management.

Six engineering professors – some current, some new – will be brought on board to work at the TRIP facility, Bost said.

Should the tinkering at the TRIP facility result in something that is commercially viable, VCU has a deal in place for its faculty inventors, Bost said: If an invention is licensed, the inventor gets 40 percent of the licensing fee, his or her department gets 30 percent, and VCU Innovation Gateway gets the other 30 percent.

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