NSF Engines


The U.S. National Science Foundation has announced that the public and private sector stakeholders in the Richmond-Petersburg region, working together as the Alliance for Building Better Medicine, will receive one of the first-ever NSF Regional Innovation Engines (NSF Engines) Development Awards including $1M in funding. NSF Engines represent one of the single largest broad investments in place-based research and development in the nation’s history – uniquely placing science and technology leadership as the central driver for regional economic competitiveness.

Members Involved

Alliance members participating in the NSF Engines Development Award include Activation Capital, Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM), Virginia Commonwealth University, and U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP). Convened and supported by Activation Capital, the Alliance is comprised of public and private sector advanced pharmaceutical manufacturers and research stakeholders, including 16 partners and 23 supporting organizations. These stakeholders have collaborated over the past four years to scale up the region’s advanced pharmaceutical manufacturers cluster to address the nation’s urgent need for a reliable supply of safe, high-quality, and affordable medicines while embracing equitable economic growth and creating high-quality jobs for all. 


In recent years, the Alliance for Building Better Medicines earned a transformative Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant, administered by the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), for $52.9M and matched by $13.6M of funding from local private and public organizations. The historic Build Back Better Regional Challenge provided the Alliance members with the ability to accelerate the needed infrastructure, workforce, supply chain, and coordinated growth opportunities. These successful efforts led the Alliance to apply for additional funding through the EDA and garnering designation as an APM global Tech Hub as well as applying for the NSF Engines Program. 

Serving as a recipient of the NSF Engines Development Awards adds to the Alliance’s momentum generated from recent awards and it amplifies the progress made toward creating an end-to-end, advanced manufacturing ecosystem in the Richmond-Petersburg region that will produce the world’s most important medicines. Earning the NSF Engines Development Award will support the Alliance as it works collaboratively to fix the broken and disconnected supply chain for the most vital medicines that has put the health of communities at risk. 

In Their Own Words

“The selection of the Alliance for Building Better Medicine for the NSF Engine Development Award validates the transformative developments happening in the Richmond-Petersburg region. In coordination with the Alliance and the Partnership for Petersburg, we’re growing pharmaceutical manufacturing regionally and in turn the Commonwealth’s ability to be a leader internationally. We will continue to support this important work in order to remain an impactful driver for economic competitiveness in the pharmaceutical field,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. 

“I am thrilled to see the Alliance for Building Better Medicine receive additional federal funding to support their work in transforming the Richmond-Petersburg region into a hub for advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing. This NSF Engine Development Award will help the Alliance continue its work to change the way we produce and distribute life-saving medication, while continuing to revitalize the economy in the region,” said U.S. Senator Mark Warner. 

“I’m proud to have supported the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, which is providing these funds to the Alliance for Building Better Medicine to expand domestic manufacturing of critical medicines and pharmaceutical ingredients, lower drug costs, boost our supply chains to address drug shortages, and support economic growth,” said U.S. Senator Tim Kaine. “This award is a testament to the hard work and innovation of the Richmond-Petersburg region. I’ve been glad to support the alliance and look forward to continuing to work with them for years to come.”

“The Richmond-Petersburg Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing industry is driving innovation and advancement in our Commonwealth,” said Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan. “The National Science Foundation’s Engine Development Awards will support the APM’s crucial work and ensure our Commonwealth remains a leader in pharmaceutical manufacturing. We will continue our efforts to provide quality, affordable medication to every American.” 

“There is no greater community of people than those of the Richmond-Petersburg Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing industry. Receiving one of the NSF Engine Development Awards, after the BBBRC grant award and TechHubs designation, is a resounding endorsement to continue the hard work, to push through the obstacles, to not stop until access to essential medicines needed to sustain life and concur disease is a reality,” said Robby Demeria, Founding Board Chair of the Alliance for Building Better Medicine. “I could not be prouder to stand behind such purposeful, accomplished, brilliant, and dedicated volunteers on a mission to build better medicine.”

“Advanced manufacturing has the potential to revolutionize our collective ability to safeguard the U.S. pharmaceutical supply chain, strengthen its resilience, and drive economic growth and global competitiveness,” said Ronald T. Piervincenzi, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer at the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP). “As a 200 year old, trusted leader advancing the science of quality medicines, USP is proud to join the Richmond-Petersburg Engine to leverage our experience in convening industry, academia, and regulators to tackle challenges and strengthen the supply of quality medicines.”

“The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing is excited to collaborate with Alliance for Building Better Medicine partners to drive the APM strategy for an NSF Innovation Engine in our region,” said John Milton-Benoit, President and CEO of CCAM. “We look forward to leveraging our experience in industry engagement, needs assessment, and translating needs to innovation opportunities that will grow our diverse APM cluster.”

“We applaud the National Science Foundation and its NSF Engines program for its transformative work to elevate entire geographic regions into world-leading hubs of innovation and impact. Medicines for All institute at Virginia Commonwealth University is honored to be part of the Richmond-Petersburg region and to serve as a recipient of the NSF Engines Development Awards as we work together as a focused and impactful coalition that is dramatically improving access to lifesaving medicines,” said Frank Gupton, Ph.D., CEO of Medicines for All.

“Activation Capital is grateful for The U.S. National Science Foundation and the inaugural NSF Engines awards for creating an opportunity for the Richmond-Petersburg region to continue to grow, collaborate, and activate our innovation ecosystem,” said Chandra Briggman, President and CEO of Activation Capital. “The NSF Engines Development Awards provide the Alliance for Building Better Medicine a platform to further enhance our shared and unifying vision for a healthy and equitable region where everyone has safe and secure access to affordable, high-quality medicines.”