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APLU Announces Class of 2018 Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Designees and Winners of 2018 Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Awards

New Orleans, LA – The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today named four winners of its sixth annual Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) University Awards and six new IEP University Designees.

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. In order to earn the designation, institutions complete a rigorous self-study and stakeholder engagement process. They identify their economic development strengths and areas of growth and improvement.

Designated institutions are eligible to compete for IEP Awards in three different categories and for a fourth top-prize that recognize the core components of “economic engagement” or the ways in which universities and their public-private partners contribute to economic and social prosperity and opportunity. The winners of the awards were announced at the 2018 APLU Annual Meeting now underway in New Orleans, Louisiana.

  • Colorado State University won the IEP Talent award, recognizing exemplary initiatives in education and workforce development
  • University of Pittsburgh won the IEP Innovation award, recognizing exemplary initiatives spurring innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology-based economic development
  • University of New Mexico won the IEP Place award for exemplary initiatives resulting in social, cultural, or community development
  • Montana State University won the IEP Economic Engagement Connections award is the top-prize in the awards competition, recognizing overall excellence and leveraging across all three award categories.

“Since their founding, public universities have looked to spur economic development in their regions while engaging their communities,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “We applaud the winners of this year’s APLU Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Awards. Their exceptional efforts provide a model for other institutions aiming to magnify all dimensions of university-driven economic development.”

Sixty-four institutions have been named IEP University designees since the program was launched in 2012. In addition to announcing winners of the IEP University Awards today, APLU named a new class of IEP University designees. They are: University of Alabama at Birmingham; Bowling Green State University; California State University, Northridge; Florida International University; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

2018 Innovation and Economic Prosperity University Awardees:

  • The winner of this year’s IEP Talent award, Colorado State University (CSU) has worked to significantly broaden the geographic reach of its workforce development impact in recent years. CSU expanded a network of statewide engagement hubs that supplement current work underway through Extension offices. The university has created Campus Connections, a campus-based mentoring program pairing CSU student mentors with at-risk youth in the area. The students work one-on-one with the children, who range in age from 11 to 18, to tackle challenges facing the youth. As part of the program, CSU students enroll in a three-credit course centered on mentoring literature. The students then spend four hours each week providing academic help, career planning, and goal setting. In addition to helping at-risk youth overcome challenges and develop key skills, the program helps CSU students develop indispensable leadership skills. To help ensure the program’s success, the university engages a wide range of community stakeholders, from local school districts to Department of Human Services to judges in area juvenile courts. Since its inception, the program has served 2,250 youth and engaged 2,700 CSU students.
  • The winner of this year’s IEP Place award, University of New Mexico created the Lobo Rainforest Building at Innovate ABQ to help support research and innovation on campus. The project is a public-private partnership between the university, the Nusenda Credit Union, the City of Albuquerque, and Bernalillo County. The building is located close to downtown Albuquerque, near a variety of businesses, and on one of the city’s rapid transit lines. The six-story building provides a common area supporting students and public enterprises as well as student housing for 310 students who are enrolled in entrepreneurial programs at the university. The Lobo Rainforest Building also houses the university’s technology transfer and economic development office as well as the university’s startup incubator. Ten startups are located in the building and General Atomics, a global engineering firm and defense contractor, has its first physical presence in Albuquerque in the building. The co-working space has provided essential co-working space to fledging firms in the area.
  • The winner of this year’s IEP Innovation award, the University of Pittsburgh’s (Pitt) Office of Economic Partnerships worked with the Brookings Institution to conduct a study of the City of Pittsburgh’s innovation capacity and develop a plan to help Pittsburgh become one of the 30 most innovative cities in the world. Since the study was published in late 2017, the university has worked to realize the comprehensive vision laid out in the report. Pitt recently purchased the former Allegheny County Health Department Building to develop it as an innovation hub where students and researchers can work alongside thriving companies. The university also recently announced it will create a mixed-use research facility hosting the UPMC Immune Transplant and Therapy Center. The center will be supported with a $200 million research investment to help researchers translate their findings into solutions that help patients increase their quality of life and life expectancy. The new project is one of a host of innovation hubs the university is launching across the city to support pathbreaking research and business development.
  • The winner of this year’s top-prize IEP Connections award, Montana State University created the Fort Peck Nursing Project to provide health care to underserved individuals living on the Fort Peck Reservation. Four-hundred and fifty miles from Bozeman, the reservation is isolated from critical health care services despite an array of health care-related challenges facing the community. To help fill health care gaps, each year roughly 50 Montana State nursing students in their junior year travel to the reservation to serve weeklong stints providing services to the Native American populations on the reservation. In addition to providing primary health care, the students give preventative health care guidance on issues such as nutrition, mental health, and dental hygiene. The students are immersed in Assiniboine and Sioux tribe cultures as they provide in-school care, make home visits, and participate in events. Since the start of the program in 2010, more than 300 nursing students have had over 14,000 patient interactions – not only providing essential health care to underserved populations, but also helping the students gain vital experience of working with patients of other cultural backgrounds.

There were six finalists for the 2018 IEP Awards. In addition to the four winners, finalists included Iowa State University and North Carolina State University.

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