APLU’s IEP Universities designation program helps higher education institutions codify, elevate, and advance their enterprise supporting economic and community development while providing national recognition to institutions committed to university economic development. To earn the designation, institutions complete a rigorous self-study and stakeholder engagement process. They also identify their economic development strengths and areas of growth and improvement.
APLU today named the University at Albany; the University of California, Los Angeles; Georgia Southern University; the University of Minnesota Crookston; University of North Carolina-Wilmington; Virginia Commonwealth University; Towson University; University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Wichita State University IEP University Designees. Eighty institutions have been named IEP Universities designees since the program was launched in 2012.
“Congratulations to this year’s IEP designees and awardees,” said APLU President Mark Becker. “Economic development is a major pillar of public research universities’ work and we’re pleased to showcase institutions that have distinguished themselves as leaders in economic development that improves lives in their communities.”
This year’s IEP University Award winners are:
- Iowa State University won the IEP Innovation award, recognizing exemplary initiatives spurring innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology-based economic development;
- North Carolina State University won the IEP Place award, for exemplary initiatives resulting in social, cultural, or community development;
- University of Cincinnati won the IEP Economic Engagement Connections award, the top-prize in the awards competition, recognizing overall excellence and excellence across all three award categories.
To be eligible for an IEP award, an institution must first earn the Innovation and Economic Prosperity University (IEP) designation from APLU, which recognizes institutional commitment to regional economic development.
IEP designees conduct a rigorous self-study of their economic engagement activities that includes input from external stakeholders. As part of the self-study, each institution identifies areas for growth and improvement within its economic engagement enterprise and developed an improvement plan. This work demonstrates a commitment to continuous learning and improvement in this kind of engagement vital to universities and their regional partners.
As defined by APLU’s Economic Engagement Framework – a series of tools and publications that helps institutions better know, measure, and communicate their work in economic engagement – universities collaborate with their public and private sector partners in their states and regions to promote economic growth, competitiveness, and opportunity through a variety of efforts across the aforementioned categories.
More information on the winners’ economic engagement initiatives is below.
University of Cincinnati
Seeking to meet talent needs and drive economic growth for the region, the University of Cincinnati boldly accelerated the development and attraction of talent for industry with the opening of its 1819 Innovation Hub in 2017. Noting the swift success of 1819, Governor Mike DeWine unveiled the Cincinnati Innovation District (CID) in March 2020. Powered by the University of Cincinnati, the CID envelops myriad innovation assets and access to some of the world’s leading academic and research centers, organizations and talent pools. The district’s mission is to become a globally recognized talent hub and lead a transformational movement. The combination of industry engagement, unique experiential platforms and accessible research expertise — working at the pace of change — will become a model nationwide.
Iowa State University
Iowa State University of Science and Technology is a renowned research and land-grant university that prepares its nearly 31,000 students to make the world a better place. Iowa State is #16 in the nation for research expenditures among universities without medical schools and ranks among the top 100 universities worldwide awarded U.S. patents. Iowa State annually delivers a $3.4 billion impact to Iowa’s economy, and its activities support one out of every 49 Iowa jobs. Hundreds of Iowa companies benefit each year from the expertise of ISU’s Small Business Development Center and the Center for Industrial Research and Service. Every day Iowa State’s Extension and Outreach programs deliver research-based education and resources to people, communities and businesses in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.
A recognized national leader in innovation and entrepreneurship education, Iowa State’s world-class academic programs and experiential opportunities include the Student Innovation Center, a state-of-the-art space for students to exercise their innovative and entrepreneurial muscles, and the Start Something Network, a set of academic opportunities across six colleges that nurtures students’ ideas and brings out their inner innovator and entrepreneur. “Innovate at Iowa State” is a mindset and a call to action for those who want to think and act beyond the traditional boundaries of education.
North Carolina State University
North Carolina State University (NC State) aims to cultivate economic development by addressing the unique needs of businesses and communities across the state. NC State leverages its research base in areas such as biotechnology, smart-grid technology, and gaming to support development of new businesses and keep firms on the leading edge of technological development. In addition to working to facilitate economic development in and around its campus, the university has undertaken a series of projects to help hard-hit communities across the state rebuild with greater resiliency and economic vibrancy following devastating floods and hurricanes. Seeking to assist small, low-resource towns, such as Lumberton, Pollocksville, and Princeville, rebuild after hurricane flooding, NC State’s Coastal Dynamics Design Lab (CDDL) harnessed multidisciplinary expertise from the university to help these communities tackle the daunting challenge of rebuilding after the storm. Rather than taking a compartmentalized approach to recovery, the CDDL designers—landscape architects, environmental planners, architects, and engineers—teamed with scientists and local stakeholders to create innovative, sustainable, adaptable, and resilient design solutions that resulted in direct community investments supporting the environmental and human needs of coastal communities.