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Federal Study to Examine What Makes Successful Public Research University-Industry Partnerships

November 1, 2017

University of Michigan Awarded NIST-Funded Study to Evaluate Promising Collaborations at APLU's Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP)-Designated Universities

Washington, DC—The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) selected the University of Michigan to study successful collaborations between public research universities and private technology developers as well as federal research laboratories (FRLs).

The NIST-backed study will explore the technology partnerships at universities that have received the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) Universities designation. The IEP designation recognizes institutions for their contributions to regional economic development.

“Analyzing and disseminating the best practices of the IEP universities and identifying new opportunities for technology-based economic development will help create more effective collaborations between federal labs and their non-federal partners. These activities support the Commerce mission to create conditions for economic growth and opportunity, as well as the aims of the National Science and Technology Council’s Lab-to-Market subcommittee to more effectively move the results of federally-funded research toward commercialization,” said Courtney Silverthorn, deputy director of NIST’s Technology Partnerships Office and executive secretariat of the Lab-to-Market subcommittee.

Specifically, the University of Michigan will:

research and broadly disseminate a set of best practice recommendations for increased innovation, commercialization, technology transfer, entrepreneurship and regional partnering and development activities based on the specific activities of the IEP universities;

identify existing collaboration networks or clusters of IEP universities and technology development entities, including FRLs;

identify overlaps and gaps in the technology-based collaboration networks between the IEP universities and technology development entities;

recommend six pilot projects for new or expanded technology development networks or clusters of IEP universities and technology development entities, including FRLs; and

develop an analysis of the potential economic impact of the six pilot projects and a plan for longer term scale-up, to aid future resource prioritization.

IEP-designated universities economic engagement activities include promoting faculty/student innovation and entrepreneurship; excelling in technology transfer; contributing to talent and workforce development; establishing strong government-university-industry partnerships; and fostering community development through public service, engagement, and outreach.

Under the NIST grant, Maximizing Technology Commercialization of Federal Research Investments through the Best Practices at Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities, the University of Michigan will receive $300,000 for a one-year study to evaluate the IEP-designated universities.

"It is important that the critical contributions universities make through research, knowledge creation, and education are communicated and recognized by important constituents in the United States. The research that is conducted in universities that leads to innovation, entrepreneurship, economic growth, public health, food safety, national security and many other areas, impact life the lives of people, institutions, and organizations every day,” said Larry Molnar, deputy director of the Economic Growth Institute in the Office of Research, University of Michigan. “This study will help to identify the best practices that transition the technology and intellectual property developed through federal research investments at universities into commercialization opportunities that result in a higher quality of life and that foster economic development and job creation in our nation."

Fifty-five institutions have received the IEP University designation. Participating institutions complete a rigorous self-study of their economic engagement enterprise and earn the IEP University designation if enough benchmarks are met.

“The Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities program is catalyzing and advancing universities’ commitment to economic engagement through technology commercialization, other innovation and entrepreneurship activities, and in talent and workforce development. The community of designated universities represents an unparalleled opportunity to undertake research that leads to a better understanding of effective practices in economic engagement. We applaud NIST for supporting this kind of research focus, and congratulate the University of Michigan for the grant award,” said Jim Woodell, APLU vice president for economic development and community engagement.

Institutions that are designated as IEP Universities are eligible to apply for APLU’s IEP University Awards. Throughout the designation process and thereafter, institutions learn from one another's work in economic engagement through APLU's IEP Learning Exchange, which includes more than 165 case studies on university economic engagement projects.

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