University Economic Development Association

AoE-2015-LogoFinalists in Awards of Excellence Program Represent Exemplary Higher Education-Led Initiatives in Regional Transformation and will Compete at Annual Summit

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA – August 3, 2015 – After several months of competition, finalists representing the top economic development initiatives in higher education have been selected as part of the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) Awards of Excellence program. Each year, leading initiatives across North America are nominated and evaluated by peers, recognizing innovative approaches to advancing economic prosperity in their respective regions.

The UEDA Awards of Excellence Committee selected 18 finalists from the nominations to present at the organization’s 2015 Annual Summit in Anchorage, Alaska in September. “Our program is unique in that it is entirely peer driven,” said Gene Merrell, associate vice president for economic development at the University of Idaho and this year’s UEDA Awards of Excellence Chair. “These finalists will be judged and recognized by the attendees of the Annual Summit. Being recognized by such a diverse spectrum of economic development professionals provides further validation of the efforts of these initiatives,” Merrell added.

The UEDA Awards of Excellence are designed to accelerate economic development by recognizing cutting edge initiatives and promoting their adoption by other institutions and communities. Award categories include: Community-Connected Campus; Innovation & Entrepreneurship; Leadership & Collaboration; Research & Analysis; and Talent Development. Criterion for judging includes initiative replicability, scalability, sustainability, impact, and originality.

The 2015 UEDA Awards of Excellence finalists in each category are as follows:

Community-Connected Campus

  • California State University – Fresno:  San Joaquin Valley Rural Development Center
  • Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI):  DIVE (Discovery,Innovation, and Ventures Enterprise)
  • University of Alaska Center for Economic Development:  Association of Village Council Presidents Integrated Truss Plant

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

  • University of Southern Indiana:  Technology Commercialization Academy
  • University of Kansas:  Entrepreneurs@KU
  • STC.UNM:  University of New Mexico (STC.UNM) & New Mexico Angels (NMA) Partnership
  • Penn State University – Main Campus:  TechCelerator

Leadership & Collaboration

  • Washington State University:  Washington Rural Pathways to Prosperity Conference
  • Purdue University:  Strategic Doing/Pathways to Innovation
  • Michigan State University Center for Community and Economic Development:  MSU EDA University Center for Regional Economic Innovation (REI University Center)
  • Kansas State University:  Knowledge Based Economic Development (KBED)

Research & Analysis

  • University of Alaska:  Alaska Health Workforce Coalition
  • University of Southern Indiana:  Measuring Innovation to Induce Innovation
  • Mississippi State University:  Using Technology to Match Mississippi Graduates with Jobs

Talent Development

  • Washington State University:  Team Mentoring Program
  • University of Southern Indiana:  Southwest Indiana STEM Resource Center (SwISTEM) Initiative
  • Montana State University:  Optical Technology Center (OpTeC)
  • Iowa State University CIRAS:  Engaging Engineering Students with Iowa’s Manufacturers

“Institutions of higher education are the drivers of modern economic development,” said Rich Overmoyer, executive director of UEDA. “Higher education institutions contribute to regional growth and serve as key partners in creating entrepreneurial ecosystems, building civic amenities, and producing world-class talent in direct response to industry needs,” said Overmoyer, who also serves as CEO of Fourth Economy, an economic development consulting firm specializing in transforming regions.

The Awards of Excellence initiative is the cornerstone program of the UEDA Annual Summit, a program featuring best practices in economic development. The 2015 Annual Summit will be held at the Hilton Anchorage from September 27-30. Early bird registration ends at midnight EDT on August 15, 2015. Befitting the location, this year’s theme is “Unlocking Diversity: Innovation + Talent + Capital.” Alaska, America’s last frontier, will serve as an appropriate backdrop to participants in the higher education, economic development, government, and private sectors. This is a must-attend conference for those interested in acquiring knowledge and innovative ideas for regional transformation.

This year’s Annual Summit agenda includes such topics as:  What We Can Learn from University Cities; Creating an Environment for Collaboration to Enhance Economic Development; Capturing, Quantifying, and Communicating “Success” in University-Led Economic Development; Meetups, Money and Measures: Building a Better Environment for Entrepreneurs; and much more. Keynote speakers include Sethuraman (Panch) Panchanathan, Ph.D., senior vice president for the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development at Arizona State University. Arizona State has been inspiring economic development practitioners through their innovative and comprehensive economic development activities and the university’s impact on its region.

Complete Annual Summit details are available at
To register go to

More information about the UEDA Awards of Excellence program can be found at

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 advancing knowledge and practice in economic engagement by institutions of higher education.