As part of its ongoing effort to help member institutions magnify their economic impact, APLU recently announced finalists for its 2020 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 University of Memphis and Iowa State University as finalists in the “Innovation” IEP Awards category, recognizing exemplary initiatives spurring innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology-based economic development. One of the finalists will be named the Innovation category award winner during the APLU Annual Meeting.
The University of Memphis has worked to promote innovation in the Memphis region with a multi-faceted approach to economic development that encourages novel engagements with our faculty, students and community. Through the establishment of corporations, the launching of a research park that emphasizes helping young companies based in Memphis, and programs to build the deep science entrepreneurship in the city, the University of Memphis is promoting economic development that embraces innovation, talent and place. The university’s motto of “Driven by Doing” is present throughout the projects that comprise their application and status as a finalist in the innovation category. Innovative partnerships with industry represented throughout their case studies have helped to fill gaps in the landscape, positively impact
Iowa State University (ISU) has placed cultivating entrepreneurship and innovation at the heart of its economic engagement and development efforts. ISU has a host of programs centered on entrepreneurship, including an undergraduate major and minor, graduate certificate and Ph.D. program in the discipline, as well as experiential learning opportunities outside of the classroom and venture creation and small business support. To help create a flourishing manufacturing industry in Iowa, the university’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) provides services to strengthen businesses, working primarily in seven industries that comprise half of Iowa’s economy.
Amid the growing pandemic in March 2020, CIRAS identified companies with complementary capabilities to design, create, and produce desperately needed Personal Protective Equipment such as face shields. Within weeks, the joint venture was producing more than 150,000 units a week. The Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship is at the crossroads of the university’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, providing a wide array of experiential and competitive learning opportunities and the tools and resources necessary to build and improve Iowa businesses.
To date, 177 students have gained consulting experience through the CyBIZ Lab interdisciplinary student consulting program and 50 student ventures have participated in the CYstarters summer accelerator program. ISU has also launched a state-of-the-art Student Innovation Center, creating a hands-on hub for students to collaborate, design, build, and test their ideas.