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APLU Names Winners of 2019 Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Awards

San Diego, CA – The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today named four winners of its sixth annual Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) University Awards and three 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 also identify their economic development strengths and areas of growth and improvement. APLU today named the University of Colorado Boulder, University of Mississippi, and Western Washington University IEP University Designees. Sixty-five institutions have been named IEP Universities designees since the program was launched in 2012.

IEP University Designees are then eligible to compete for IEP Awards in three different categories and for a fourth top-prize. The IEP designation recognizes institutions with a proven substantive, sustainable, and campus-wide commitment to exemplary economic engagement, or the ways in which universities and their public-private partners contribute to economic and social prosperity and opportunity. The IEP awards, meanwhile, recognize innovative projects or programs in economic engagement. The winners of the awards were announced at the 2019 APLU Annual Meeting now underway in San Diego, CA.

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

“Economic engagement and development cuts to the heart of public universities’ mission to advance the public good,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “We applaud the winners of this year’s APLU Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Awards. They stand out as excellent examples of how public universities are addressing their communities’ needs and advancing regional economic development.”

More information on the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity University Awardees:

The winner of this year’s IEP Talent award, Wayne State University is engaged in city-wide and regional initiatives to improve workforce participation rates and increase the proportion of individuals with high-skill credentials and college degrees. Research from the National Institute for Literacy revealed that 47 percent of the city’s residents lack basic literacy skills. Recognizing the far-reaching impact of illiteracy on the community, the university established the Office of Adult Literacy in 2012 and launched the Harris Literacy Program in 2013. With the underlying goal of workforce development, the program provides adult basic education to help members of the Detroit community reach their academic goals and make steps toward greater self-sufficiency. In 2018, the program provided services to 160 English language and 150 math students, leading to 26 students enrolling in G.E.D. classes. The literacy center has served more than 1,700 Detroiters since 2013. Additionally, Wayne State launched a suite of programs in 2018-19 to help adults with some college, but no degree. The university has identified and is reaching out to nearly 53,000 individuals, encouraging them to return to school. Through a pioneering debt-forgiveness program, innovative pathways including reverse transfer, and strong partnerships with community colleges, Wayne State is driving a talent development agenda and paving the way for students to earn their bachelor as well as their associate’s degrees. As a result of these city-wide and regional collaborations in which Wayne State is playing a leading role, Detroit was recently recognized as a Talent Hub by the Lumina Foundation.

The winner of this year’s IEP Place award, Purdue University launched its Center for Regional Development in 2005 to deepen its economic engagement across the state and region. The center leads a variety of initiatives to address the unique needs of each community it works in and spur development across the state. Partnering with Ball State University, the center’s Hometown Collaboration Initiative works to grow local capacity in leadership and economic placemaking. The effort has worked with 19 Indiana communities, leading to the development of community parks, entrepreneur resources, and neighborhood revitalization. The effort places particular emphasis on sparking civic spirt in the state’s rural areas. It has recruited 400 Hoosiers to serve on local coordinating committees and drawn more than 1,200 residents to community forums. The effort has resulted in 12,000 hours of volunteering. The Purdue Center for Regional Development also conducted the most exhaustive study ever undertaken on the benefits and costs of providing broadband to households in rural Indiana. The study prompted Governor Holcomb to pursue a $100 million investment to expand broadband to unserved areas of Indiana. The center has teamed with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to develop and implement Rural Broadband Planning Grants.

The winner of this year’s IEP Innovation award, the University of Michigan has launched a set of programs to help spur innovation and startup creation. Its Small Company Innovation Program (SCIP) launched in 2015 to help emerging companies overcome common challenges – such as providing research, development, and testing support – so entrepreneurs have what they need to succeed. The program connects companies to researchers and labs at the state’s public universities, which often have facilities and expertise that companies desperately need but are unable to identify or afford. The program’s team identifies university research partners and co-funds projects statewide through a network of 15 public universities called the Michigan Corporate Relations Network. SCIP project managers build relationships with tech transfer and business engagement professionals as well as STEM academics at most universities who can assist companies with engagement of an appropriate faculty member. Student research associates provide competitive landscape analysis for the client, which also helps inform the program’s funding decisions. SCIP is funded by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and administered by the University of Michigan’s Economic Growth Institute. To date, SCIP has facilitated 80 collaborative projects involving nearly 70 companies that led to over $1.7 million in awards.

North Carolina State University has taken a multipronged approach to developing talent that fuels economic development. The NC State Entrepreneurship Clinic works to integrate research, teaching, and work-and-learning opportunities to help students build the next generation of businesses in Raleigh. Students observe startup founders leading firms at various stages of development. The clinic provides courses and practice for both undergraduate and graduate students across multiple disciplines, including business, engineering, design, textiles, agriculture, and computer science. Since the program launched in 2015 with just nine students in its inaugural year, the clinic has increased service to include nearly 800 students representing 22 majors. The program has seen 21 percent growth in student participation semester over semester and had 169 students develop projects during the Fall 2018 semester. Since 2015, 17 student startups have launched, raising over $5.6 million in outside funding to assist with student startups. The clinic received the 2018 Excellence in Co-Curricular Innovation Award from the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

There were six finalists for the 2019 IEP Awards. In addition to the four winners, finalists included California State University, Northridge and the University of South Florida.

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