Peter Pidcoe, D.P.T., Ph.D., holds an early prototype of his Self-initiated Prone Progressive Crawler, or SIPPC. Today, the hardware and computer on the SIPPC are fractions of the size they once were.

Innovation to advance humanity

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Earlier this week, I had the great pleasure of honoring Peter Pidcoe, my faculty colleague in the Department of Physical Therapy in the School of Allied Health Professions, during the Invented at VCU event, our university’s annual celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Dr. Pidcoe’s work is impressive and inspiring: He has invented a skateboard-like device that helps infants with motor-skill disabilities learn to crawl. His creation has made international news and was honored last month at the renowned Smithsonian Innovation Festival.

More than that, he is changing the lives of young people and their families who need him. And that is precisely our mission at Virginia Commonwealth University.

As an internationally premier research university, we are focused not simply on research but on innovation that helps people live better lives. Our proclivity to innovate is impressive: last year, we set a university record for sponsored research awards, topping $270 million.

That means that more than ever, my faculty colleagues are not only imaging the future, they are creating it in their laboratories, clinics and studios, and with community, industry and university partners across the commonwealth. And more than ever, we are leveraging the many talents and perspectives across VCU in exciting new ways, bringing together faculty from art, medicine, social work, the humanities and dozens of other disciplines to solve problems that need diverse viewpoints and skills.

These faculty colleagues are also mentors to VCU’s remarkable students, more than half of whom intend to start their own company someday. Even more incredible is that one in seven actually starts that company before they graduate. Our students started eight companies last year alone, bringing new ideas and innovation to Virginia and beyond.

At VCU, we use what we discover and create to make a difference for people who need us, whenever they are and whoever they are; to make the world better; to make human life better. I could not be more proud of the many people at VCU whose innovations are changing the world — and the many ways we make it real.