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APLU Names Four Public Research Universities Winners of 2016 Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Awards

Austin, TX – The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today named four winners of its fifth annual Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) University Awards. The winners — Arizona State University, Colorado State University, Montana State University and Purdue University — competed in four different categories that recognize different components of economic engagement. The categories are talent, innovation, place and connections. The winners of the awards, which honor public universities actively engaged in and promoting regional economic development, were announced at the APLU Annual Meeting now underway in Austin, Texas.

“Economic engagement is a central component of public universities’ work,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “Public institutions are working to advance economic opportunity and drive prosperity in their communities. The IEP Award winners have established themselves as exemplary institutions in this space, and we applaud their important leadership.”

Economic engagement efforts include universities working with public and private sector partners in their states and regions to support economic development through a variety of activities – innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, talent and workforce development, and community development.

2016 Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Awardees:

  • Arizona State University won the Connections category. ASU repurposed a decommissioned United States Air Force Base for use as a new satellite campus hosting community colleges, a K-12 charter school, and Army Reserve center. Today, ASU’s Polytechnic Campus on the base educates 10,000 students enrolled in 40 degree programs. Students also join with industry partners on the campus to tackle issues facing their sector. The campus has emphasis on applied engineering.
  • Colorado State University won top honors in the place category. CSU created an Energy Institute to catalyze entrepreneurship in energy technology and spur the development of more clean, reliable, and abundant sources of energy. To date, the Institute has yielded $10 million in annual energy savings from student-run industrial audits and helped prevent 100 million pounds of Nitrogen Oxide pollution.
  • Montana State University earned top honors in the Talent category. The university partnered with local Native American tribes to provide reservations healthcare while helping nursing students gain hands-on experience with patients. To date, more than 10,000 patient visits and medical exams have been performed through the collaboration.
  • Purdue University won the innovation category. In 2001, Purdue established its Discovery Park to undertake large-scale interdisciplinary research. The Park works on solving vexing global challenges at the nexus of food, energy, water, the environment, health, and security. Seventeen start-ups have been initiated by researchers at the Discovery Park in the past five years alone and more than 500 disclosures, patents, licenses/options were facilitated within the park.

“APLU’s Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity works closely with universities to advance their economic engagement efforts so they can achieve the greatest impact,” said Jim Woodell, Vice President for Economic Development and Community Engagement at APLU. “That’s why we developed CICEP’s Economic Engagement Framework, which provides tools for university self-assessment, metrics determination, and economic impact analysis.”

The IEP University Awards recognize specific emphases in these areas. The “Talent” award honors an institution with exemplary initiatives in education and workforce development; the “Innovation” award honors an institution demonstrating outstanding work in technology transfer, entrepreneurship, and business development; the “Place” award recognizes a university that is excelling in community, social, and cultural development work; and the “Connections” category recognizes the institution that is doing the most to build connections between all categories of economic engagement — innovation and entrepreneurship, talent development, and social, community, and cultural development.

To be eligible for an award, an institution must first earn the Innovation and Economic Prosperity University designation from APLU. To receive that designation universities conduct a self-study of their economic engagement activities that includes input from external stakeholders. As part of the self-study, each institution identified areas for growth and improvement within its 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.

Applications for the designations were scored by a panel of independent reviewers representing other universities and also national partners. 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. Overall, 55 institutions have been named IEP Universities designees since the program was launched in 2012.

There were six finalists for the 2016 IEP Awards. In addition to the four winners, finalists included the Iowa State University and the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

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