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Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Announces Inaugural Designation of 16 Institutions as Innovation & Economic Prosperity Universities

October 7, 2013—In recognition of a strong commitment to economic engagement, the APLU today designated 16 public institutions as Innovation & Economic Prosperity Universities. The new designation acknowledges universities working with public and private sector partners in their states and regions to support economic development through a variety of activities, including innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, talent and workforce development, and community development.

“The APLU Innovation and Economic Prosperity designation and awards program has enabled universities to shine a spotlight on the work they’re doing, both internally on their campuses and externally with their communities to promote economic engagement—and to demonstrate more clearly with government and the private sector the public benefit of universities,” said Douglas Banks, Associate Vice President for Economic Development at UMass, and IEP Universities Designation and Awards Program co-chair. “Unlike a more traditional competition, this process led the universities to work together and learn from one another – sharing tools, tips and techniques for promoting strengths and tackling areas of improvement. A learning community was created that has led to a stronger grasp of why university economic engagement matters.”

The 16 institutions that comprise the inaugural class of Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities are: Boise State University; California State University, Fresno; Northern Illinois University; The Ohio State University; The State University of New York; University of Central Florida; University of Cincinnati; University of Georgia; University of Idaho; University of Memphis; University of Michigan; University of Minnesota; University of Missouri; University of Oklahoma; University of Toledo; and Washington State University.

“We’re helping to provide tools to universities to help them become even more economically engaged with their communities, which is a core value of public institutions,” APLU President Peter McPherson said. “Universities are economic engines that not only directly employ people, but also generate research-based innovation and technical expertise that allow businesses to start up, grow, and thrive. This designation recognizes universities that are really stepping up to strengthen their local economy.”

Working with member universities, APLU’s Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity (CICEP), developed a set of “Institutional Assessment Tools to Enhance Regional Innovation and Prosperity” that help university economic engagement leaders conduct an institutional self-study and evaluate university efforts in regional economic development.

Applicants for the new Innovation & Economic Prosperity University designation conducted this self-study and solicited input from external stakeholders. Each university applicant identified three areas of strength in economic engagement, and developed case studies to reflect them. Applicants also identified areas for growth and improvement for their university’s economic engagement enterprise, and fleshed out an improvement plan. This work demonstrated a commitment to continuous learning and improvement in this area of work vital to universities and their regional partners.

University applications were scored by a panel of reviewers representing other universities and also national partners, including the Association of University Research Parks, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), Business – Higher Education Forum, National Association of System Heads, National Governors Association, and University Economic Development Association. 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.

Institutions interested in being considered for the APLU Innovation and Economic Prosperity University designation in 2014 should contact Jim Woodell, APLU’s Assistant Vice President, Innovation & Technology Policy and lead CICEP staffer at( 202) 478-6040. Interested universities should begin planning for their self-study as soon as possible.

APLU is a research, policy, and advocacy organization representing 219 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and related organizations. Founded in 1887, APLU is the nation's oldest higher education association with member institutions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories. Annually, member campuses enroll more than 3.8 million undergraduates and 1.2 million graduate students, award over 1 million degrees, employ nearly 1 million faculty and staff, and conduct more than $37 billion in university-based research.