The 2015 Awards of Excellence nomination period is now closed.
The New Engines of Economic Prosperity
Members of the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) are transforming their campuses into engines of economic prosperity. The UEDA Awards of Excellence accelerate this process by recognizing leading edge initiatives and encouraging their adoption among UEDA members.
Colleges and universities make five major contributions to the economies they serve:
- They develop talent with the 21st-century skills needed to support high-growth businesses.
- They support networks of researchers, entrepreneurs, high-growth businesses, and regional innovation clusters.
- They develop quality, connected campuses that become entrepreneurial hotspots and magnets for new people and businesses.
- They support the sophisticated strategies and collaborative leadership needed to link, leverage, and align the many assets within a regional economy.
- They provide leading edge research and analytic tools to enable civic leaders to understand their economy and make decisions quickly to promote collaborative investments.
How the Awards Process Works
Colleges and universities submit their leading edge initiatives to UEDA. Finalists are selected by the Awards Committee and are invited to present at the Annual Summit. Summit attendees listen to the presentations and vote on the category winners. This peer-review process is further explained below.
Colleges and universities nominate their initiative(s) for a UEDA Award of Excellence on UEDA’s website. Entrants designate a primary and secondary category most appropriate for each entry. However, the UEDA Awards of Excellence Committee may choose to reassign an entry to another category and their decision will be final.
The UEDA Awards Committee selects up to four finalists in each category based on the award criteria. The finalists make short presentations to the participants at the UEDA Annual Summit in Anchorage, Alaska, September 27-30, 2015. The UEDA Summit participants vote to determine the category Award winners. The Awards Committee has the option of choosing a UEDA Judge’s Award of Excellence from the attending finalists. The Awards of Excellence finalists and winners are announced at the Awards Banquet at the UEDA Annual Summit on September 30, 2015. A representative of the winning applicant’s institution must be present to accept the Award.
UEDA Recognizes Excellence in the Following Five Categories:
This category focuses on the quality of the institution’s connection to their community and region. College and university campuses can play a vital role in stimulating regional economic development. Community-Connected Campus is more than the physical development of space, but includes developing place specific/dependent programs that support economic development of that place. The award focuses on innovative approaches to campus and community planning that make the campus a magnet or “hot spot” for the regional economy.
- A new university building that serves as a location for community convening.
- A new incubator facility.
- Mixed use development adjacent to the campus.
Innovation and Entrepreneurship
This category focuses on initiatives designed to support startups, high-growth companies, and clusters within a region. A region’s prosperity depends in large part on how well the region can convert talent into wealth through innovation and entrepreneurship.
- An angel capital network formed among university alumni.
- Business assistance collaborations that direct business managers to responsive, high quality assistance quickly.
- A relationship and network building program for students, faculty, alumni and/or businesses.
Leadership and Collaboration
This category recognizes innovative efforts by colleges, universities, and economic development organizations to support the development of collaborative economic development strategies and the leaders required to implement them.
- A regional strategy supported and led by a college or university.
- Leadership training that provides students with experience in leading community conversations.
Research and Analysis
This category focuses on the capacity of colleges, universities, and economic development organizations to provide new forms of research to design the next generation of tools for economic development practitioners. It also recognizes campuses that have successfully applied their research skills and tools to improve the economic well-being of their surrounding community, region, and/or state.
- New analytic tools that take advantage of the power of geographic information systems.
- Qualitative research that helps to develop the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
- Reports that provide useful insights into a community or regional economy.
This category recognizes initiatives that promote the development of 21st-century skills. The category emphasizes the importance of educational attainment and workforce development to economic prosperity. The award focuses on the partnerships needed to create flexible, responsive career pathways to expanding businesses.
- Collaboration between industry or a community college with a research university to develop a new certificate program that meets the workforce needs of the region.
- Early partnerships to connect K-12 students with colleges or universities to address local talent /workforce needs.
Criteria for the Awards of Excellence
Awards of Excellence Committee members and attendees of the Annual Summit evaluate the Awards of Excellence according to the following criteria:
Replicability and Scalability
Replicability and scalability mean that both large and small institutions can find value in the project / initiative and that the insights, tools, and practices from the project / initiative can be shared and duplicated. The key questions: How easy will this initiative be to replicate? Does this initiative fit both large and small campuses? Can it be easily scaled in either direction, up or down?
Sustainability means that the initiative creates value in which others will invest resources. UEDA members are looking for promising, leading edge practices that can be financially supported and will have a lasting impact on university economic development. The key question: Does the initiative have a business model that can sustain the initiative beyond its initial funding?
Note: For the Research & Analysis category ONLY, sustainability is judged based on the usability and implementation of the project’s deliverables. Recognizing research projects are often time bound during the project’s life span (and after, if possible), how were the findings utilized within an organization? How did the findings, tools and / or analyses contribute to the development or execution of another entity or practice?
Originality means introducing novel ideas, strategies and collaborations to the field of university economic development. The key questions: Does the initiative introduce an innovative way of thinking and doing? How has the initiative differentiated itself from similar programs? How has the initiative’s unique approach, strategy and ideas impacted its success?
Impact means the effect of the initiative on one or more measures of economic activity, innovation, competitiveness, and / or economic prosperity. This is not about “outputs” (i.e., the tangible things the initiative delivers) but “outcomes” (i.e., the economic development gains achieved as a result of the outputs). Examples might include the increase in the regional median family income resulting from new mixed use development adjacent to campus, the increased post-secondary certificate / degree attainment resulting from new career pathways developed through a new workforce development initiative, or the improvement in some measure(s) of economic prosperity resulting from the implementation of new research results or analytic tools. For a newer initiative that has yet to demonstrate impact, share the metrics being used to measure progress towards the initiative’s economic development goals and how the results will be used.
The Overall criterion is a subjective opportunity for the judges and Summit participants to score the projects based on individual opinions. At the Summit, this criterion is based, at least in part, on the quality of the finalist’s presentation and the presenter’s responsiveness to questions.
On April 18, 2013 we conducted a webinar featuring the awards process, judging criteria, and past award recipients. The archived webinar is below, along with other resources referenced in the video. Still have questions? Visit the Awards of Excellence FAQ page.