University Economic Development Association

Awards of Excellence

The Awards of Excellence Nomination submission period has closed. We received various submissions and are eager to announce this year’s winner. Register for the UEDA Digital Summit to vote on the best projects, view the presentations, and see who wins.


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 UEDA Summit, where attendees choose category leaders. As practitioners of economic engagement, your work is building and innovating communities across the globe. Your initiatives are generating impacts that are sustainable and provide growth opportunities for your region. You and your programs drive innovation and work to support your residents and your regional economic ecosystems. Awards of Excellence participants make-up a prestigious group of global economic development innovators nationally.

Join this illustrious group by nominating your initiative for a 2021 UEDA Award of Excellence and see how participation in the program can energize your economic development efforts.


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
  • Additional exposure for winners in the UEDA member newsletter Intersections.


Past award-winning projects have come from diverse disciplines with measurable results that have transcended economic development through their originality, scalability, and applicability in solving the unique and significant economic development challenges facing regions and communities today.



Awards of Excellence Nomination Process

Choose your project to nominate for an Award of Excellence.
Register for and attend the Awards of Excellence informational webinar.
Submit your nomination form online through the UEDA Application Portal.
Finalists notified.
Register for and attend the Awards of Excellence Finalists webinar.


Attend the UEDA Summit 2021
All Awards of Excellence finalists must attend the Summit in person to present their initiatives to those in attendance for judging.


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.

Open Nominations Format

Non-UEDA members may nominate one project or initiative for an application fee of $200 per entry. UEDA members may nominate multiple projects at no cost as part of the value of their UEDA membership.*

If you are not currently a UEDA member, please consider joining today and all of your institution’s 2020 Awards nominations may be submitted at no cost. Learn more at

UEDA Awards of Excellence Finalists Map

The Awards of Excellence finalist projects come from organizations, communities, universities, and individuals from all across the country. These award winning projects cover a combination of Talent, Innovation, and Place. Click the markers below to learn more about each project.


Talent + Innovation


Innovation + Place


Talent + Place

University Economic Development Association

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