UofM Named Finalist for 2020 APLU Innovation & Economic Prosperity Universities Awards

Peter McPherson

MEMPHIS, TN — The University of Memphis has been named one of six finalists for the 2020 Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) for its eighth annual Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) University Awards.

The winners will be announced during the association’s virtual annual meeting. The finalists – California State University, Northridge; Iowa State University; University of Memphis; Mississippi State University; University of Pittsburgh; and Purdue University – are competing for four different awards that recognize exemplary and innovative case studies of economic engagement impact.

The University of Memphis and Iowa State University are finalists for the IEP Innovation award, recognizing exemplary initiatives spurring innovation, entrepreneurship and technology-based economic development.

California State University, Northridge and Purdue University are finalists for the IEP Talent award, recognizing exemplary initiatives in education and workforce development.

Mississippi State University and the University of Pittsburgh are finalists for the IEP Place award for exemplary initiatives resulting in social, cultural or community development.

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. 

“This national recognition demonstrates (UofM) President (M. David) Rudd’s commitment to balancing two critical imperatives: advancing basic research for the betterment of our society and supporting regional economic prosperity through innovative applied initiatives,” said Dr. Jasbir Dhaliwal, UofM executive vice president for research and innovation. “Kudos to all members of our innovation teams based at the FedEx Institute of Technology and led by Cody Behles and Mary Ann Dawson for their great work leading up to this recognition.”

The UofM has worked to promote innovation in the Memphis region with a multi-faceted approach to economic development that encourages novel engagements with our faculty, students and community. Through the establishment of corporations, the launching of a research park that emphasizes helping young companies based in Memphis and programs to build the deep science entrepreneurship in the city, the UofM is promoting economic development that embraces innovation, talent and place. The University’s motto of “Driven by Doing” is present throughout the projects that comprise their application and status as a finalist in the innovation category. Innovative partnerships with industry represented throughout their case studies have helped to fill gaps in the landscape, positively impact the lives of hundreds of students and has brought millions in investment to campus and the City.

As defined by 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 aforementioned categories.

“We applaud this year’s Innovation and Economic Prosperity University Awards finalists for their exceptional contributions to regional economic engagement,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “As the country looks to recover from one of the steepest economic downturns on record, universities will have to play a central role in helping drive innovation, spark growth and foster broadly shared prosperity. The IEP Award finalists are in a strong position to do exactly that.”

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.

Sixty-six institutions have been named IEP Universities designees since the program was launched in 2012.

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