University Economic Development Association

University Economic Development Association selects 2013 top university economic initiatives in North America. Awards of Excellence winners highlight best practices in university-based economic development

PITTSBURGH, PA – October 29, 2013 – The University Economic Development Association (UEDA) announced its 2013 Awards of Excellence winners during its Annual Summit held tonight in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Awards of Excellence Program recognizes UEDA members who are transforming their campuses into engines of economic prosperity through leading edge initiatives in five categories: 1) Community Connected Campus: initiatives that promote the physical development of quality connected campuses and their surrounding communities; 2) Research and Analysis: initiatives that enhance the capacity of colleges and universities to provide new forms of research and tools for community, economic and workforce development practitioners; 3) Leadership and Collaboration: initiatives that support the development of collaborative economic development strategies and the leaders required to implement them; 4) Innovation and Entrepreneurship: initiatives designed to support startups, high-growth companies and clusters within a region; and 5) Talent Development: initiatives that promote the development of 21st-century skills.

The 2013 UEDA Awards of Excellence projects and winners are:

Community Connected Campus Award Winner
Incubation and Outreach Program
submitted by University of Wyoming / Wyoming Technology Business Center
The goal of the Wyoming Technology Business Center Incubation Program is to provide development assistance to early-stage Wyoming businesses preparing for high growth. Business assistance is offered through the Wyoming Technology Business Center (WTBC) staff and focuses on four important aspects of growing a business; sales and marketing, organizational structure, financial and information systems, and ongoing strategic planning. Through this work, the WTBC is creating a fertile business environment that will assist in the diversification of Wyoming’s economy. Because of the success of this incubator program in Laramie, the WTBC’s mission is to grow the program across the state. Recently, an incubator was added in Casper, Wyoming, and there are plans for another location to be opened in Gillette. In addition to expanding our own program, the WTBC also works with other established incubators, such as Forward Sheridan of Sheridan, WY to achieve a statewide presence.

Research and Analysis Award Winner
The Iowa Business Concierge
submitted by University of Northern Iowa / Regional Business Center Entrepreneurship Outreach
Entrepreneurs often need key business intelligence to make decisions associated with starting or growing a company. Market and customer demographics, industry trends, competitor data and email/mailing lists are critical, yet most information of this kind is out of financial reach for young companies. The UNI Business Concierge provides on-call and online business intelligence for free to startups and young companies in Iowa. UNI’s Entrepreneurship Outreach team assembled existing university database resources and trained a business concierge to offer custom and timely business intelligence to entrepreneurs, then connect them with the service providers needed to move them forward. All online. The Business Concierge is marketed by service provider partners who upload an iframed Business Concierge module into their own websites, where it is marketed as a free, local resource for small business through the city, county or regional economic development organization’s website.

Leadership and Collaboration Award Winner
Research, Engagement, and Capabilities Hub of North Carolina (REACH)
submitted by NC State University & UNC Chapel Hill
REACH NC is a publicly accessible and searchable web-based portal that uses advanced technologies to enable quicker and easier location of faculty experts in North Carolina. The uniqueness of REACH NC lies in the partnership of public and private universities and research institutes to make the portal, and REACH NC brand and mission a truly statewide effort. New features under development will allow users to search for core laboratories, equipment, and other assets. Unlike other similar portals, REACH NC includes experts not only from the biomedical sciences but from a broad range of disciplines including social science, education, and business. The initiative was launched by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University with support from University of North Carolina General Administration, and has since been expanded to include 13 other North Carolina public universities, Duke, and RTI International. REACH NC now contains over 8,300 expert profiles representing these 17 institutions. REACH NC aims to act as a ‘one stop portal’ to enable quicker and more effective location of experts for collaborative opportunities for internal and external partners. Private companies, economic development agencies, and university faculty and staff have utilized REACH NC to find partners for collaboration on research projects and proposals, obtain technical assistance or consulting, showcase statewide expertise for economic development, and find speakers, reviewers, and mentors.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award Winner
Dream Big Grow Here
submitted by University of Northern Iowa / Regional Business Center Entrepreneurship Outreach
University of Northern Iowa’s Dream Big Grow Here contest attracts and networks Iowa entrepreneurs with resource and service providers through an innovative statewide contest that rewards a good pitch and a sound business approach with cash. Dream Big Grow Here utilizes a custom contest technology to attract entrepreneurs to upload their dreams to start or expand a business, then encourage friends, family, and customers to vote for them. Top vote getters compete in a regional Pitch Off event for a $5,000 cash award. Regional winners then compete for another $10,000 grand prize during a statewide Pitch Off at the end of the year. UNI recruited six regional economic development organizations to collaborate in the launch of the first Dream Big Grow Here contest in 2011. Wildly popular, 142 companies competed in an online contest, attracting more than 100,000 votes and a half million online views. Pitch Off event winners connected entrepreneurs with regional and statewide resources/service providers. In 2012, two hundred twenty-five contestants took part in one of ten regional contests and a waiting list was established for EDO’s wishing to host.

Talent Development Award Winner
Lehigh’s Master of Engineering in Technical Entrepreneurship (MTE)
submitted by Lehigh University
In the 20 year history of innovation and entrepreneurship, in addition to helping may local companies, Lehigh University’s Integrated Product Development (IPD) program has been the launching pad for several notable successful student startups. In the spring of 2012, Lehigh faculty launched its unique Master of Engineering in Technical Entrepreneurship (MTE) with the sole purpose of creating successful student startups. This new graduate program is open to entrepreneurially-minded students from any undergraduate major. Lehigh’s MTE program features a dedicated curriculum, a dedicated faculty, and dedicated creative spaces, all focused on helping student entrepreneurs create, refine, and commercialize intellectual property through licensing and launching of a new business. In fact new product development and company launch are graduation requirements. The MTE program is the latest addition to Lehigh’s University’s award winning entrepreneurship ecosystem that is designed to attract and support student entrepreneurs. On May 20, 2013, Lehigh graduated its first class of 14 entrepreneurs who created 12 new products and launched 10 new businesses. The very next day, the 28 members of the MTE class of 2014 started their journey into creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. The ten year goal of Lehigh’s MTE program is to graduate 90 student entrepreneurs and launch 50 new companies each year and in the process become a major source of economic development for the Lehigh Valley, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the USA. As we like to say, “Don’t take a job, come to Lehigh to create your own!”

The UEDA Awards of Excellence presentation also includes a Judges Award, which is given to a deserving finalist whom the UEDA Awards Committee deems worthy of special recognition. This year’s award winner stood out as a student-driven initiative competing in the Talent Development category.

Judges Award Winner
“Beta Alpha Psi Mentor Program”
submitted by Washington State University
What makes our mentor program successful is its three tiered-system. Each mentee is paired with an upperclassman mentor and a WSU alumnus who is an established professional. This structure proves successful because it connects students to degree-specific leadership within the school and out in the work force. The on campus mentor focuses on professional development while the professional mentor informs students of industry demands. Combined, the two mentors provide resources to develop competitive applicants for the state of Washington. There are now approximately 25 additional alumni involved with the accounting program and over 100 participants in the program’s first semester. This program cultivates leaders who are well polished and professional, and will be immediate contributors in the workplace.

Nominations for the 2014 Awards of Excellence program will begin in the spring of 2014. More information can be found at UEDA’s website:

How the Awards Process Works
University project teams applied for the UEDA Awards of Excellence Program. Projects were reviewed and scored by an executive award committee and three project finalists were selected for each category. Project finalists presented their projects to attendees of the UEDA Annual Summit, where the audience of peers voted for projects that best exemplified the criteria for their category. Throughout the process, projects were judged on scalability, sustainability, originality and the ability to be replicated. Awards were presented at the awards banquet at the 2013 Annual Summit held at the Omni William Penn Hotel, Pittsburgh, PA. The 2014 UEDA Summit will be held in Santa Fe in the fall of 2014.
About UEDA
Established in 1976, the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) is the cornerstone membership organization representing higher education, private sector and community economic development stakeholders. UEDA works to expand economic opportunity in our communities by leveraging research, community resources, campus planning, talent development, and technology commercialization. UEDA’s mission is to serve its members by enhancing members’ abilities to deliver economic development benefits through engagement with higher education.