In recognition of their strong commitment to economic engagement, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) this month designated six public institutions in the 2016 class of Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) Universities. The designation acknowledges universities working with public and private sector partners in their states and regions to support economic development through a variety of activities, including innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, talent and workforce development, and community development. Each university received the designation after conducting a thorough self-review with outside stakeholder input followed by a rigorous independent review process of their applications for the award.
The six institutions will become part of the fourth annual class of Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities are: Arizona State University, Cleveland State University, Colorado State University, Iowa State University, Montana State University, and the University of California, Davis. During the August application period, additional institutions may join the class of 2016.
“Public universities serve as economic engines for their local communities and states by conducting cutting-edge research that yields breakthroughs that improve life well beyond the confines of campus,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “Equally important, these institutions cultivate the talent necessary to help fledgling business take flight and ensure existing enterprises have the human capital they need to maintain their dynamism.”
APLU’s Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity (CICEP) is continuing to lead efforts to help public universities plan, assess, and communicate their work in regional, national, and global economic development using the CICEP “Economic Engagement Framework” (/CICEPFramework). The framework includes tools for university self-assessment, metrics determination, and economic impact analysis.
“The 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity University designees demonstrate how institutions can conduct honest self-assessments to recognize strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities as they work to advance economic engagement activities throughout their communities,” said Jim Woodell, APLU’s Vice President of Economic Development and Community Engagement. “APLU’s CICEP Framework has become a critical tool for universities seeking to strengthen their economic engagement activities and we are pleased to showcase these 18 public universities that are helping to lead the way.”
The six new Innovation & Economic Prosperity University designees conducted an institutional self-study and solicited input from external stakeholders. Each university designee identified three areas of institutional strength in economic engagement and described programs in these areas. Designees also identified areas for growth and improvement for their university’s economic engagement enterprise, and developed an improvement plan. This work demonstrated a commitment to continuous learning and improvement in this kind of engagement vital to universities and their regional partners.
The 48 institutions designated in 2013, 2014, and 2015 have reported significant advancement of their efforts due to the stakeholder engagement and self-study efforts undertaken in conjunction with the program. They are leveraging their status as Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities to identify new areas of opportunity in aligning with economic development objectives. They are developing deeper engagement with others in their regional innovation ecosystems, and making changes within the institution to expand their impact.
Applications for the designation are evaluated by a panel of reviewers representing other universities and regional and national partners, including the Association of University Research Parks, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Kauffman Foundation, Lemelson Foundation, Louisiana Economic Development, the United Negro College Fund, the University Economic Development Association, and VentureWell. Scoring was based on a range of criteria emphasizing universities’ development of their economic engagement enterprise, their planning efforts around economic engagement, strategic communications around these efforts, and participation in encouraging economic engagement among peer institutions.
Each of the IEP designated institutions now qualifies to submit an application for APLU’s 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity University Awards, which will be given out at the association’s annual meeting in November. The awards include an “IEP Connections” award, recognizing the university that is doing the most to build connections between categories of economic engagement such as innovation and entrepreneurship, talent development, and social, community, and cultural development. “Best in class” awards will also be given in each category of talent, innovation, and place.
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