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Projects & Initiatives
Shalin R. Jyotishi

IEP Universities Award Winners

Innovation & Economic Prosperity University awards go to APLU member universities that demonstrate excellence and leadership in planning, implementing, and evaluating programs and initiatives that contribute to regional economic development and engagement. Institutions are only eligible to apply for IEP Awards once they have earned the IEP University designation. IEP Awards are facilitated by APLU's Commission on Economic and Community Engagement

Awards are given in the following categories:

  1. the “Talent” award honors an institution with exemplary initiatives in education and workforce development;
  2. the “Innovation” award honors an institution demonstrating outstanding work in technology transfer, entrepreneurship, and business development;
  3. the “Place” award recognizes a university that is excelling in community, social, and cultural development work; and
  4. the “Economic Engagement Connections” award - the top-prize in the competition - recognizes an institution that is making strong, meaningful connections across talent, innovation and place. Connectivity across university efforts in these areas is critical to a strong, vibrant and successful economic engagement enterprise
  • 2018 IEP University Awardees
  • 2017 IEP University Awardees
    • For the Place Award category, the University of Maryland at College Park won the prize for its efforts to deepen the institution's engagement with the College Park and Prince George's County communities. Under the leadership of President Wallace Loh, UMD partnered with the city of College Park to launch the University District Vision 2020 to spur economic development throughout the city. The initiatives includes financial incentives for staff and faculty who purchase homes in the city and 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. The district is home to technology incubator spaces, a community arts house, a clinical outreach station by the School of Public Health, facilities that host R&D 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.


    • For the top-prize in the competition, the Economic Engagement Connections Award, went to the University of Maryland at College Park.  UMD was honored as the first two-time winner of the Connections award for its cross-cutting and holistic approach to economic engagement. University District Vision 2020 links and leverages contributions across innovation and entrepreneurship, talent and workforce development and 'placemaking' through community engagement, public service and outreach. 


    • In the Innovation Award category, Kansas State University took the prize for its Knowledge Based Economic Development partnership that leverages connections with civic and private sector organizations to attract companies and hundreds of jobs to the region; its Center for the Advancement of Entrepreneurship which provides mentorship, support, and funding to budding entrepreneurs; and its Institute for Commercialization that facilitates technology transfer, strategic partnerships with industry, as well as research and development collaborations.


    • In the Talent Award category, Iowa State University came first for the work of its Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship which provides training and talent development for students interested in startup and venture formation; it's CyBiz Lab provides interdisciplinary consulting to companies and faculty commercilization efforts that provide students with hands-on experience while supporting local businesses; and its North Central STEM Hub, one of sex regional hubs of the Iowa Governor's STEM Initiative, to spark student interest in the STEM disciplines.


  • 2016 IEP University Awardees
    • For the Talent category, Montana State University won the prize for its ability to harness the unique abilities of students and community members in a variety of settings. Its Optical Technology Center (OpTec) has growing into a leading photonics hub, attracting several businesses and training hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students in the field. At the same time Montana State University has built strong relationships with the many Native American tribes across the state and partnered with them on a number of projects that promote better health and living standards while also teaching valuable new skills to students and community members.
    • The Innovation category award winner, Purdue University, has expanded its impact in the tech industry by investing heavily in multiple campus facilities such as the Wilmeth Active Learning Center, the Flex Lab, the Bechtel Innovation Design Center, the Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories, and the Purdue College of Technology into the Purdue Polytechnic Institute. At the same time, the University has made significant contributions to the medical industry through Discovery Park, a research center that has innovated in the fields of cancer research, infectious diseases, and drug development.
    • As the Place category award winner, Colorado State University has leveraged the resources of its community to address local problems on a global scale. For instance, its School of Global Sustainability (SoGES) is a special academic unit that incorporates faculty from multiple disciplines to work with students and together address environmental, economic, and social issues. Meanwhile Colorado State University confirmed its commitment to sustainable energy by launching the Energy Institute at the Powerhouse Energy Campus, consolidating energy research into one location and making it easier for faculty and students to collaborate with industry and government partners.
    • Receiving the top award in the Connections category was Arizona State University, who have moved beyond the traditional campus design to meet the needs of students and community members where they are. One example is their Downtown Phoenix Campus, that not only serves over 2,500 full-time students but has expanded to offer five colleges on-site, including its well-regarded Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Arizona State University also developed the Polytechnic Campus in Mesa, which converted a former US Air Force base into a campus that leverages its suburban setting into projects and partnerships with local businesses.
  • 2015 IEP University Awardees
    • The Talent category winner, Clemson University, has fueled workforce development in the auto industry through partnerships with leading auto industry organizations, and through its University Professional Internship and Co-op Program helped nearly 850 students gain internship experience in a variety of fields, many connected to university faculty partnerships with business and industry.
    • In the Innovation category, the University of Minnesota took the prize for Minnesota’s Discovery, Research, and InnoVation Economy (MnDRIVE) initiative, which has helped catalyze the launch of a record 16 startups in 2015, bringing its total to 86 since 2006. The University of Minnesota also demonstrated how research and innovation are fueling entrepreneurship and building resilient communities.
    • The Place category winner was Auburn University. The University’s Rural Studio, established in 1993, provides hands-on experience in architectural education and at the same time improves living conditions in western rural Alabama. Auburn is also working to sustain its community by strengthening the live chicken production industry and by fostering the growth of the emergent oyster industry.
    • The University of Maryland garnered the top award, in the Connections category. The university has partnered with Northrop Grumman to create the Advanced Cyber security Experiences for Students, cementing its place at the vanguard of one of the most strategically important fields of the 21st century. Through its Live, Learn, and Earn in Greater College Park initiative, the university is tying their leading talent development efforts to research and innovation, and to community building.
  • 2014 IEP University Awardees
    • The University of Massachusetts Boston received the “Talent” award for promoting a diverse STEM workforce; supporting educators shifting toward applied, industry-informed IT education; and building an integrated biomedical research and training facility, among many other efforts.
    • Georgia Institute of Technology received the “Innovation” award for its technology-based economic development efforts, including the commercialization of ground-breaking inventions, the evolution of a leading business outreach and economic development organization, and the transformation of empty city lots and abandoned warehouses into an innovation neighborhood.
    • The “Place” award went to North Carolina State University for its reinvention of the very notion of what a research park should be, creating a self-sustained city in the university’s science park, including research, residential, and retail establishments; collocating university and industry facilities to spur collaboration; and making a smart library for the 21st century a centerpiece of their Centennial Campus.
    • For the top-prize “Connections” award, University of Houston received the honor for focusing on creating an innovation ecosystem by nurturing interdependence between internal know-how and resources, and input from university stakeholders and industry experts. UH was also recognized for inspiring a new generation of innovators by developing both technical capacity and entrepreneurial talent in their students, for building an Energy Research Park that is enriching the social and cultural fabric of the community, and for making connections between and among their efforts in innovation and entrepreneurship, talent development, and the cultivation of place.
  • 2013 IEP University Awardees
    • The “Innovation” award went to State University of New York (SUNY) for its Research Foundation, the largest university affiliated foundation in the nation. The Research Foundation launched a state-wide system of innovation programs to further the development and creation of new ideas, companies, and jobs across a platform of state-wide higher education and research.
    • The University of Michigan also received the “Innovation” award for its multipronged approach to technology transfer that includes the Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy, the Business Engagement Center, and The Venture Center.
    • Northern Illinois University received the “Place” award for meeting the needs of its region in multiple and creative ways. The university provided high-speed internet connectivity for rural areas with the NIUNet initiative, strengthened connections between primary, secondary, and tertiary education through the Center for P-20 Engagement, and promoted job growth by supporting a strong aerospace cluster by launching the Rockford Area Aerospace Accelerator Project and other programs.
    • The top-prize “Connections” award winner was the University of Cincinnati, which worked with a variety of stakeholders to advance public/private partnerships while also enhancing the student learning experience. Students and faculty interface with business and community partners at the UC Research Institute, and students further their education at the Procter and Gamble/UC Simulation Center and the UC Forward Initiative, both of which provide students opportunities to work on real-world problems and/or engage with community members.