As part of its ongoing effort to help member institutions magnify their economic impact, APLU recently announced finalists for its 2017 Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Awards. The awards honor institutions performing exemplary work to advance the economic wellbeing of their states, regions, and the nation through a variety of efforts. In this final part in a three-part series, APLU spotlights finalists in the “Place” IEP University Awards category, for exemplary initiatives in education and workforce development. One of the finalists will be named the place category award winner Sunday, November 12 in Washington, DC during the APLU Annual Meeting.
Georgia Institute of Technology launched its Technology Square in Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood to create a hub for innovation. The Tech Square is anchored by the Enterprise Innovation Institute, the university’s chief economic development and business-outreach arm.
The Tech Square also boasts Georgia Tech’s Advanced Technology Development Center, whose mission is to help Georgia entrepreneurs to learn, launch, and scale disruptive technology companies. In addition to its Atlanta location, the Advanced Technology Development Center takes its education, resources, and programming across Georgia to extend the center’s positive impact. To date, the center has graduated more than 170 companies that have generated over $12 billion in revenue in Georgia.
VentureLab, the university’s commercialization program, also helps students, faculty, and staff develop startups from the Tech Square. So far, VentureLab-supported firms have attracted more than $1.5 billion in capital. About 20 corporations, including several Fortune 500 companies, have also opened corporate innovation centers in around the Tech Square.
Through a National Science Foundation-funded program, Georgia Tech is now working to help to partner institutions across the southeast U.S. and in Puerto Rico to launch similar programs of their own. The effort aims to accelerate the development of entrepreneurial ecosystems in the south and increase participation of underrepresented minorities in pathbreaking research and entrepreneurship.
University of Maryland President Wallace Loh launched a university-wide effort five years ago to deepen the institution’s engagement with the College Park and Prince George’s County communities. Partnering with College Park, Maryland launched the University District Vision 2020 to spur economic development throughout the city.
To further facilitate economic development in College Park, the university provides financial incentives for staff and faculty who purchase homes in the city. The effort has helped reduce staff commutes, strengthen neighborhoods, and support the local economy.
The university also provided land, financial resources, and educational and administrative support for the creation of College Park Academy, a public charter school managed through the community partnership and the university’s College of Education. UMD President Loh is chair of the academy and devotes significant time to help run the school. Student test scores at the academy and significantly higher than county and statewide averages.
Finally, the university created a Discovery District that boasts technology incubator space, a community Arts House, College Park Academy, and clinical outreach by the School of Public Health. The Discovery District also features facilities that host developing commercialization research clusters in cybersecurity, bioengineering, energy, and advanced manufacturing. Linking campus and College Park to a set of 10 economically diverse cities is a new light rail system.