Washington, DC – The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today named six public research institutions as finalists for its fourth annual Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) University Awards. The winners will be announced on November 13 at the association’s annual meeting in Austin, Texas. The finalists — Arizona State University, Colorado State University, Iowa State University, Montana State University, Purdue University, and the University of Massachusetts Lowell — are competing for four different awards that recognize different components of university economic engagement: talent, innovation, place, and connections.
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.
“A central mission for public universities is to drive economic progress in the communities they serve. They fulfill that all-important task through workforce development, scientific research, and partnerships with private sector stakeholders in their regions,” APLU President Peter McPherson said. “The six finalists for the 2016 APLU Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Awards have all demonstrated a clear commitment to economic engagement and have delivered contributions that are transforming their communities. APLU applauds them and looks forward to sharing their good work with other institutions as a resource for all public research universities to expand their economic engagement activities and help grow their regional economies.”
APLU’s Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity (CICEP), which brings together public university leaders from around the country who are focused on economic engagement issues, is leading efforts to help public research universities plan, assess, and communicate their work in local and regional economic development using the CICEP “Economic Engagement Framework.” The framework includes tools for university self-assessment, metrics determination, and economic impact analysis.
The IEP University Awards recognize specific emphases in these areas. The “Talent” award (finalists: Montana State University and the University of Massachusetts Lowell) honors an institution with exemplary initiatives in education and workforce development; the “Innovation” award (finalists: Iowa State University and Purdue University) honors an institution demonstrating outstanding work in technology transfer, entrepreneurship, and business development; the “Place” award (finalists: Arizona State University and Colorado State University) recognizes a university that is excelling in community, social, and cultural development work; and the “Connections” category (all six finalists are eligible for this award) 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.
“APLU’s Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity works closely with universities to further develop and advance their economic engagement activities to help ensure they have the deepest impact,” said Jim Woodell, APLU Vice President for Economic Development and Community Engagement. “That’s why we developed the CICEP Economic Engagement Framework, which provides tools for universities to identify both institutional accomplishments in innovation and economic development, and also areas for growth and improvement. Using one or more of the tools as part of their self-study, universities assess where they are and where they and their regions are headed.”
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.
This year’s IEP Award finalists have undertaken a variety of economic engagement efforts, some of which are highlighted below.
Institutions interested in being considered for next year’s APLU Innovation and Economic Prosperity University designation and awards process, should contact Jim Woodell, APLU’s Vice President for Economic Development and Community Engagement.