OHIO named finalist for 2021 APLU Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Award

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today named Ohio University as one of six university finalists for its ninth annual Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) University Awards.

“Ohio University is uniquely positioned to serve as a partner in economic engagement activity in southeast Ohio and works hard to fulfill that potential every day,” Ohio University President Hugh Sherman said. “We are honored to be a finalist for this award and pleased to have played such a key role in the successes of businesses and resulting economic impact throughout the region.”

The winners will be announced during the association’s annual meeting in November. The finalists, which also include the University of Cincinnati, University of Colorado Boulder, Pennsylvania State University, Iowa State University, and Washington State University, are competing for four different awards that recognize exemplary and innovative case studies of economic engagement impact:

  • University of Cincinnati and Pennsylvania State University are finalists for the IEP Talent Award, recognizing exemplary initiatives in education and workforce development.
  • Iowa State University and Washington State University are finalists for the IEP Place Award for exemplary initiatives resulting in social, cultural, or community development.
  • Ohio University and University of Colorado Boulder are finalists for the IEP Innovation Award, recognizing exemplary initiatives spurring innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology-based economic development.

Ohio University takes great pride in its community and economic engagement efforts in and around the region. In addition, the University is working to advance research and knowledge discovery that promotes vibrant communities across the state. Ohio University is: increasing its applied research to address challenges facing its communities; expanding research to support existing strengths; expanding partnerships with corporations; and supporting undergraduate research focused on enhancing community success. Ohio University’s incubator for technology startup companies, the Innovation Center, supported 335 jobs that generated an estimated $22 million in employee compensation in Athens County in 2019. Over the last six years, the business incubator’s job creation numbers have more than doubled, and employee compensation generated from its client companies has nearly tripled. Since 1996, the University’s George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service has worked with communities to foster local economic development, reaching more than 60 Ohio counties, including all 32 in Appalachia.

“Ohio University is committed to bettering the lives of people in the state and southeastern Ohio in particular, by putting knowledge to work through innovation,” Vice President for Research and Creative Activity Joseph Shields said. “Selection as a finalist for an APLU award is testimony to the success of the university’s Innovation Center, Voinovich School, and other programs in nurturing new enterprises and supporting existing companies to benefit our communities.”

All six universities are finalists for the IEP Economic Engagement Connections award, which is the top prize in the awards competition, recognizing overall excellence and leveraging across all three award categories.

As defined by the APLU’s Economic Engagement Framework – a series of tools and publications that helps institutions better know, measure, and communicate their work in economic engagement – universities collaborate with their public and private sector partners in their states and regions to promote economic growth, competitiveness, and opportunity through a variety of efforts across the categories.

“Congratulations to this year’s Innovation and Economic Prosperity University Awards finalists on their outstanding work to advance regional economic development,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “Public research universities are major engines of economic development in their region, and the IEP finalists have distinguished themselves as leaders in this space.”

To be eligible for an IEP award, an institution must first earn the Innovation and Economic Prosperity University (IEP) designation from APLU, which recognizes institutional commitment to regional economic development.

To earn the IEP designation, universities conduct a rigorous self-study of their economic engagement activities that includes input from external stakeholders. As part of the self-study, each institution identifies areas for growth and improvement within its economic engagement enterprise and developed an improvement plan. This work demonstrates a commitment to continuous learning and improvement in this kind of engagement vital to universities and their regional partners.

Nearly 70 institutions have been named IEP Universities designees since the program was launched in 2012.

June 30, 2021
Staff reports