As part of its ongoing effort to help member institutions magnify their economic impact, APLU announced finalists for its 2021 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 post, APLU spotlights Ohio University and University of Colorado Boulder finalists in the “Innovation” IEP Awards category, for their outstanding work resulting in social, cultural, or community development. One of the finalists will be named the Innovation category award winner during the 2021 APLU Virtual Annual Meeting.
Ohio University has made community and economic engagement efforts to serve its region. The university is working to advance research and knowledge discovery that promotes vibrant communities across the state. Ohio University is: increasing its applied research to address challenges facing its communities; expanding research to support existing strengths; expanding partnerships with corporations; and supporting undergraduate research focused on enhancing community success. Ohio University’s incubator for technology startup companies, the Innovation Center, supported 335 jobs that generated an estimated $22 million in employee compensation in Athens County in 2019. Over the last six years, the business incubator’s job creation numbers have more than doubled, and employee compensation generated from its client companies has nearly tripled. Since 1996, the university’s George Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service has worked with communities to foster local economic development, reaching more than 60 Ohio counties, including all 32 in Appalachia.
University of Colorado Boulder
The University of Colorado Boulder takes a multipronged approach to regional economic development, including a major effort to develop a place-based strategy of innovation and entrepreneurship development. The university’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship initiative offers hands-on experiences for students, faculty, staff, and community and industry partners. Experiences include academic courses and co-curricular workshops, mentorship opportunities, a campus business venture competition called the New Venture Challenge, as well as a summer startup venture accelerator program, job fairs that connect students with startups, and physical maker spaces.
The New Venture Challenge is the largest and longest-running venture program of its kind, connecting the campus with the Boulder community to develop and fund promising entrepreneurial ideas. Since 2009, over 700 teams have participated in NVC. Student and faculty ventures competing in NVC have gone on to raise capital, be acquired by corporate partners, and reach sustainable revenue and substantial local employment. The university’s research commercialization effort, Venture Partners, also works to help translate research breakthroughs to commercial successes. Last year, the commercialization division helped support 12 new technology startups and nearly 60 license and options agreements. Venture Partners-supported businesses employ approximately 11,500 workers and have a nearly $2 billion economic impact annually.