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APLU Selects Four Public Research Institutions for 2014 Innovation and Economic Prosperity University Awards

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today named the University of Houston, University of Massachusetts Boston, Georgia Institute of Technology and North Carolina State University recipients of its second annual Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) University Awards. The recognitions, which honor public universities actively engaged in and promoting regional economic development, were given during a special awards ceremony on the final day of the 127th APLU Annual Meeting underway in Orlando, Florida.

The IEP awards recognize efforts of member 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.

“These four institutions have each demonstrated a clear commitment to economic engagement and have followed through by delivering results,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “APLU applauds them and looks forward to sharing their good work as a resource for all public research universities to expand their economic engagement activities and help grow their regional economies.”

2014 Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) University Awardees:

  • The University of Massachusetts Boston received the “Talent” award for promoting a diverse STEM workforce; supporting educators shifting toward applied, industry-informed IT education; and building an integrated biomedical research and training facility, among many other efforts.
  • Georgia Institute of Technology received the “Innovation” award for its technology-based economic development efforts, including the commercialization of ground-breaking inventions, the evolution of a leading business outreach and economic development organization, and the transformation of empty city lots and abandoned warehouses into an innovation neighborhood.
  • The “Place” award went to North Carolina State University for its reinvention of the very notion of what a research park should be, creating a self-sustained city in the university’s science park, including research, residential, and retail establishments; collocating university and industry facilities to spur collaboration; and making a smart library for the 21st century a centerpiece of their Centennial Campus.
  • For the “Connections” award, University of Houston received the honor for focusing on creating an innovation ecosystem by nurturing interdependence between internal know-how and resources, and input from university stakeholders and industry experts. UH was also recognized for inspiring a new generation of innovators by developing both technical capacity and entrepreneurial talent in their students, for building an Energy Research Park that is enriching the social and cultural fabric of the community, and for making connections between and among their efforts in innovation and entrepreneurship, talent development, and the cultivation of place.

“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, assistant vice president for innovation and technology policy at APLU. “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.”

The awards are a complementary program to APLU’s IEP Universities Designation program. The association designated 14 universities as IEP Universities in 2014. All Innovation & Economic Prosperity University designees, including the award finalists, conducted an institutional self-study and solicited input from external stakeholders. Each university designee identified three areas of institutional strength in economic engagement, and described programs in these areas. As part of their self-study, universities also identify areas for growth and improvement. This work demonstrates a commitment to continuous learning and improvement in this kind of engagement vital to universities and their regional partners.

There were eight finalists for the 2014 IEP awards. In addition to the winners, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, University of Illinois, and Virginia Tech were in the final competition for the awards.

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