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Projects & Initiatives
Jim Woodell, Ph.D.
Vice President for Economic Development and Community Engagement


Innovation & Economic Prosperity Universities

APLU’s Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness and Economic Prosperity (CICEP) established the Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) Universities Program to recognize and celebrate institutions for their commitment to regional economic development through their work in economic engagement. Economic engagement holistically refers to university efforts that promote innovation and entrepreneurship, excellence in in technology transfer, leadership in talent and workforce development, establishing strong government-university-industry partnerships, and fostering community and "place" development through public service, engagement and outreach.

More than 55 institutions have earned the IEP University designation. Participating institutions complete a rigorous self-study of their economic engagement enterprise, identify strengths and areas of improvement, exchange ideas with peers around North America, and strengthen their overall ecosystem supporting economic prosperity. Those who earn the designation are then eligible to compete for APLU’s  IEP University Awards which are given in the categories of Talent, Innovation, Place and the top-prize Economic Engagement Connections Award. Designees also continue engage in peer-exchange and learn from one another's work in economic engagement through the IEP Learning Exchange. Institutions also share and engage with external stakeholders at the national and international level. Designated institutions are often times called upon to participate in special opportunities and events including national and international speaking engagements, tours of federal agencies/national organizations and other initiatives undertaken by APLU and partner organizations to advance and elevate the profile university economic engagement.

Institutions pursuing the designation as well as designated institutions are highly encouraged to attend the annual IEP Universities workshop which takes place at each CICEP Summer Meeting. Engagement opportunities are also planned during each APLU Annual Meeting.

Read the IEP Universities Program flier for more information. Questions regarding the IEP universities program should be addressed to Shalin Jyotishi at

Connect with us on Twitter and share your story - @APLUEngagement -- #IEPUniversities 

Learn more about the IEP Universities Program:

  • Pursuing the IEP University Designation

    Pursuing the IEP University designation: To formally begin the process of seeking the IEP university designation, an institution’s president or chancellor must send a formal letter of intent to APLU President Peter McPherson by the fall of each year. For APLU members, the 2018 deadline for submitting letters of intent is Friday, August 31 (template and sample university contact sheet available on request). Non-APLU members must submit their letter of intent to the University Economic Development Association (learn more). Once received, the institution becomes a part of the 'IEP startup cohort' – institutions that are actively seeking the IEP University designation. An institution has three years from the point of entering the startup cohort to apply for the IEP designation. Designation application cycles take place four times a year, and institutions may apply for comment prior to applying for decision. APLU facilitates in-person and virtual learning opportunities for IEP startup campuses throughout the year. Full details regarding the designation application process, timeline and guidelines can be found on the IEP Universities Submission Process and Guidelines webpage.

  • Applying for the IEP University Awards
    Applying for the IEP University Awards: IEP University Awards are given annually in the categories of Talent, Innovation and Place as well as the top-prize Economic Engagement Connections Award. An institution must receive the IEP University designation in order to apply for an award. Awardees are recognized during a special ceremony during the APLU Annual Meeting where they receive a commemorative plaque, along with a certificate, and a logo that can be used in the university’s print materials and websites to promote the institution’s honor. Award winners are also recognized on APLU's website and communication channels, through the IEP Case Studies library. Full details regarding the award application process can be found on the IEP Universities Submission Process and Guidelines webpage.
  • Conduct Research & Scholarship around IEP Universities
    Conduct research around IEP: APLU encourages scholarship and research around the IEP Universities program. Students and scholars have won grants to conduct research on IEP, leveraged the IEP data corpus to write doctoral dissertations and are working with APLU to bolster the research portfolio around IEP and economic engagement. Interested individuals or organizations should contact Shalin Jyotishi at for further information.
  • IEP Universities Program for non-APLU Campuses
    Participate in the IEP Universities program through UEDA: APLU has partnered with the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) to enable UEDA member campuses who are not members of APLU to participate in the IEP Universities Program. All institutions of higher education ranging from private research universities to community colleges are eligible to participate. Questions regarding IEP Universities access for UEDA members may be addressed to UEDA's Tim Hindes at Tim.hindes@universityeda.orgLearn more on UEDA's website.

2017 IEP Universities Program Overview Webinar


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