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Ohio University recognized as Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities


The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities recently named Ohio University an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University in recognition of its strong commitment to economic engagement.

OHIO is one of 18 institutions in the U.S. to receive the 2015 designation, which 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. OHIO received the designation after conducting a thorough self-review with outside stakeholder input and subsequently submitting an application that went through a rigorous independent review process.

“This designation acknowledges Ohio University’s strong history of innovation in research, teaching and creative activity, toward the goal of improving the human condition,” said President Roderick J. McDavis. “Ohio University takes great pride in our faculty, staff and students, whose collective innovation is propelling our region forward.”

Among the key initiatives that support economic engagement beyond campus is the Ohio University Innovation Strategy, which seeks to encourage multidisciplinary collaboration to help the institution engage substantively with the challenges of the 21st century.

“One of the compelling features of Ohio University’s application was our expansive definition of innovation,” said Pam Benoit, OHIO executive vice president and provost. “We went beyond the traditional focus on entrepreneurship and commercialization to also include innovation in research, teaching, and business practices across the university.”  

OHIO’s focus on innovation and recent Economic Impact Report, completed in 2014, show the University’s commitment to playing an important role in the region’s economic development.

“Our application showcased an impressive innovation ecosystem, built over decades and encompassing a wide range of assets throughout the University,” said Joseph Shields, vice president for research and creative activity and dean of the Graduate College. “In our narrative we were able to provide compelling evidence that this systematic effort has significantly advanced economic prosperity and community well-being in our region.”

As part of the application, OHIO conducted an institutional self-study and solicited input from external stakeholders, identifying three areas of institutional strength in economic engagement: technology commercialization, small business support and talent development. OHIO also identified areas for growth and improvement for the University’s 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.

“Public universities serve as economic engines for their local communities and states by conducting cutting edge research to reach new breakthroughs and developing the talent to help existing businesses grow stronger and enabling new ones to develop and thrive,” APLU President Peter McPherson said. “The 18 institutions in the 2015 class of Innovation & Economic Prosperity Universities serve as wonderful models of how public research universities extend beyond their campuses to engage their communities in economic development that create jobs and improve lives.”

APLU’s Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity (CICEP) is continuing to lead efforts to help public universities plan, assess, and communicate their work in regional, national, and global economic development using the CICEP “Economic Engagement Framework.” The framework includes tools for university self-assessment, metrics determination, and economic impact analysis.

“The 2015 Innovation and Economic Prosperity University designees demonstrate how institutions can conduct honest self-assessments to recognize strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities as they work to advance economic engagement activities throughout their communities,” said Jim Woodell, APLU Assistant Vice President for Innovation and Technology Policy. “APLU’s CICEP Framework has become a critical tool for universities seeking to strengthen their economic engagement activities and we are pleased to showcase these 18 public universities that are helping to lead the way.”

Applications for the designation were scored by a panel of reviewers representing other universities and also national partners, including the Association of University Research Parks, the Association of University Technology Managers, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the Business Higher Education Forum, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Innovosource, the Lemelson Foundation, the University Economic Development Association, the National Association of System Heads, and VentureWell. 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.

OHIO now qualifies to submit an application for APLU’s 2015 Innovation and Economic Prosperity University Awards, which will be given out at the association’s annual meeting in November. The awards include an IEP Connections award, recognizing the university that is doing the most to build connections between categories of economic engagement, including innovation and entrepreneurship, talent development, and social, community, and cultural development. Best in Class awards will also be given in each category of talent, innovation, and place.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

Representing 238 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and related organizations, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities is the nation's oldest higher education association with member institutions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, Canada, and Mexico. Annually, APLU member campuses enroll 4.8 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.2 million degrees, employ 1.4 million faculty and staff, and conduct $41.4 billion in university-based research.