Awards of Excellence


Recognition. Validation. Reputation.

Enhanced Competitiveness. Critical Peer Review.

Awards of Excellence Recognition Generates…

  • Professional validation of your work as a best practice in economic development
  • Rigorous evaluation by your peers in the field
  • Increased attractiveness of your program to funders

2017 Award Winner Samantha Farr describes the impact of winning an Award of Excellence

Important Dates for 2018

April 20: Informational Webinar

May 15: Early Bird Deadline

June 30: Final Deadline

August 1:  Finalist Notification

August 16: Finalist Teleconference

October 22-23: UEDA Annual Summit – Finalist Presentations

October 23: Awards Banquet

New for 2018, we have partnered with the Journal of Economic Development in Higher Education (JEDHE) to provide all Awards of Excellence nominees with the opportunity to expand the recognition and exposure of their work. All nominations for the Awards of Excellence program will also be shared with the JEDHE Editorial Board for consideration for an Editor’s Award in each category. Editor’s Award winners will have the opportunity for their initiative to be featured in a future JEDHE issue. For more information about the journal, visit

Archive Recording: 2018 Awards of Excellence Webinar

UEDA’s Framework for Higher Education Engagement in Economic Development

In 2015, UEDA jointly published Higher Education Engagement in Economic Development: Foundations for Strategy and Practice with the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ Commission on Competitiveness, Innovation, and Economic Prosperity (APLU-CICEP).  This ground-breaking document sets forth a common definition for “university economic development and engagement,” a set of principles to guide economic development and engagement in higher education, and a taxonomy of programs to assist practitioners and higher education officials in understanding—and communicating—what constitutes the full spectrum of university-based economic development.  For the full text of this document, which we strongly encourage all applicants to read, please see http:/

The UEDA Awards of Excellence categories reflect the newly created taxonomy and the judging criteria and process align with the principles set forth in this strategic framework.


Awards Categories

In keeping with the new taxonomy’s emphasis on three core missions—Talent, Innovation, and Place—as well as projects and initiatives that occur at the intersection of these missions, the 2018 Awards of Excellence categories are described below. For a more complete discussion of these categories, and a detailed list of the types of projects/initiatives that fit into these categories, see Higher Education Engagement in Economic Development: Foundations for Strategy and Practice at


Talent includes the spectrum of knowledge transfer activities by which universities educate people, developing human capital for the 21st century Knowledge Economy. This category includes life-long learning, both degree and non-degree programs, experiential education and discovery-based learning programs, active alignment of curricula to industry needs, etc.

Talent + Innovation

Projects and initiatives that synergistically connect TALENT and INNOVATION, to create innovators of many kinds—business entrepreneurs, idea or product makers, and problem-solvers. Entrepreneurship education projects/initiatives and experiential learning projects/initiatives to connect students with entrepreneurs are just two examples of the types of projects/initiatives included in this category.


Innovation begins with basic research, but then builds on knowledge creation to encompass knowledge transfer and application in ways that are useful and relevant to society. This category encompasses basic research; applied, translational, problem-oriented, and industry-contracted R&D; cooperative extension services; technology transfer; etc.

Innovation + Place

Projects and initiatives that synergistically connect INNOVATION and PLACE, to create physical places that attract and build concentrations of talent and innovators—knowledge communities. This can be construed as either or both (1) a specific site, such as a university research and technology park, incubator, accelerator, etc., or (2) a larger community, area, or region, such as an innovation district.


Place is defined as the many and diverse ways in which institutions contribute to making attractive, competitive communities—places where people want to live, create and take jobs, raise their families, participate in civic life, and age and retire. Competitive, successful communities and regions are attentive to the health, education, environment, housing, safety, and entertainment needs of community members. Campuses and sites like research parks are components of place-making, but the focus of this definition is broader, on communities, or even on regions.

Talent + Place

Projects and initiatives that synergistically connect TALENT and PLACE in ways that enrich discourse, promote civic participation, and otherwise enhance quality of place. Just a few examples include K-12 school improvement partnerships; local government training institutes; and higher education involvement in regional government, economic development organizations, and community and wellness projects/initiatives.

Awards Timeline



pdf-iconDownload the 2018 Awards of Excellence Nomination Guide

pdf-iconDownload the 2018 Awards of Excellence Application

Collaborate with UEDA

Contact Us

University Economic Development Association
PO Box 97930
Pittsburgh, PA 15227

216.200.UEDA (8332)