University Economic Development Association

Awards of Excellence

Recognizing Economic Development Initiatives

The Awards of Excellence are given in recognition of outstanding economic development initiatives, research, or accomplishments. Proposals are submitted to the Awards of Excellence committee who choose the finalists. The finalists then present their projects at the Annual Summit, where attendees choose category leaders.

Nominate a Project

Our 2019 Finalists


University of Georgia’s New Materials Institute – Partnering for Sustainable Growth

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – NCGrowth

University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Pacific Business Center Program – Hau’ula Community Resilience Model Village


Innovation + Talent:

University of Houston – SURE-Stimulating Urban Renewal through Entrepreneurship

Western Carolina University – Outdoor Recreation as an Economic and Community Engagement Catalyst in Western North Carolina

University of North Alabama – Institute Fellows

University of Wisconsin System – Smart Cities-Smart Futures: Building a Roadmap to a Future Where There Are No Roads



University of Idaho, Coeur d’Alene – Inspire Idaho

University of Georgia – UGA Fanning Institute Partnership Strengthens Schools through Student Engagement

Indiana University – East – BOSS (Business Opportunities for Self Starters)


Talent + Place:

Kansas State University – Regulatory Issues in Animal Health

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee – M3: Harnessing the Power of Education for Talent Development

California State University Northridge and Marilyn Magaram Center for Food Science, Nutrition and Dietetics – CSUN Champions for Change: Growing a Healthy Community!



University of Kentucky – Lexington – Fayette Urban County Government – Economic Development Partnership

Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement – Indiana University Rural Arts Program

University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government – Rising from the Ashes: A Downtown Master Plan Transforms a Community

Virginia Tech – Community Change Collaborative (CCC) of Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance


Place + Innovation:

University of Nevada, Reno – Nevada Center for Applied Research-Opening Doors for Innovation

The University of Texas at Dallas – The UT Dallas Intellectual Transit-Oriented Transformational Incubator (DITTI)

University of Alaska Anchorage – Center for Economic Development – Alaska Startups Storytellers

Awards are presented in six categories:


The Innovation category encompasses basic research; applied, translational, problem-oriented, and industry-contracted R&D; cooperative extension services; technology transfer; etc.

Innovation + Talent

This category recognizes projects that connect talent and innovation to foster business entrepreneurs, idea or product makers, and problem-solvers. Entrepreneurship education projects and experiential learning projects to connect students with entrepreneurs are just two examples of the types of projects included in this category.


The Talent category focuses on programs that teach people how to thrive in the 21st century Knowledge Economy.  This category includes life-long learning (degree and non-degree programs), experiential education and discovery-based learning programs, active alignment of curricula to industry needs, etc.

Talent + Place

Talent + Place projects exemplify how putting the right people in the right environment will benefit the community and economy. Examples include K-12 school improvement partnerships; local government training institutes; higher education involvement in regional government, economic development organizations; and community and wellness projects/initiatives.


The Place category recognizes the diverse ways in which higher education institutions contribute to the overall aesthetic and quality of life of their communities. Campuses and sites such as research parks are components of place-making, but the focus of this category is on the broader impact throughout the community or region.

Place + Innovation

Projects in this category connect innovation and place to create physical spaces that attract innovative talent to create a new knowledge community. This space can be  either or both

  1. A specific site, such as a university research and technology park, incubator, accelerator, etc.
  2. A larger community, area, or region, such as an innovation district.
University Economic Development Association

PO Box 97930
Pittsburgh, PA 15227
216.200.UEDA (8332)