University Economic Development Association

ROANOKE, VIRGINIA – October 18, 2016 – Last week, the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) announced winners of its annual Awards of Excellence program during their Annual Summit in Roanoke, Virginia.

Leading initiatives from across North America competed in a six-month process, including application, peer review, live presentations, and, ultimately, selection by attendees of the UEDA Annual Summit as category leaders. The Awards of Excellence Program recognizes organizations who are transforming their campuses into engines of economic prosperity through leading edge initiatives in five categories: 1) Innovation; 2) Innovation + Talent; 3) Talent + Place; 4) Place; and 5) Place + Innovation.

“The Awards of Excellence finalists represent the top initiatives in higher education economic development,” said Tim Hindes, UEDA Executive Director. “Category leaders selected this year represent sustainable models that are making impacts on regional economies across North America.”

Throughout the Awards of Excellence process, nominations are judged on the sustainability, replicability, originality, and impact of the program or initiative. Those receiving the top marks in these criteria advance through the process, culminating in recognition as the category leader by peers in attendance at the Annual Summit.

The 2016 Awards of Excellence category winners are:

Innovation Category

Silo-Busting Strategic Collaboration Series
Submitted by Kansas State University

At Kansas State University (K-State), university-based economic development efforts start with faculty members. They make up the aggregate strengths of the university that serve as economic engines for growth. It is a recognition that these assets are the competitive advantage of a university community that drives the economic development strategy. In order to enhance the competitiveness of this environment and increase the pipeline of opportunities generated from interaction with university faculty, Knowledge Based Economic Development (KBED) a local university/community economic development partnership – at KSU, established a venue for large interdisciplinary collaboration, the Silo- Busting Strategic Collaboration Series. KBED created ongoing thematic events focused on better understanding where K-State has global capabilities and then establishing strategies to leverage those strengths for economic return to the university and community.

KBED partnered with the Office of the President to create this events series aimed at providing opportunities for collaboration by bringing together people of all academic disciplines.

Faculty, staff, researchers and partners are able to gain first-hand knowledge about complex challenges facing, Manhattan, the state of Kansas, and the world. In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security announced that that Manhattan was selected to be the home for the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), a $1.25-Billion-dollar investment with substantial economic impact expected.  The events in this series were centered around the pivotal question, “What could be an NBAF-type success for this area of strength?” The first event focused on Economic Development and was held in 2010. Since the inaugural event, 23 events have been hosted with over 825 participants.

Innovation + Talent Category

Shoals Shift
Submitted by University of North Alabama

The overall purpose of Shoals Shift is to accelerate a cultural change that alters how economic development is viewed and practiced in the region, resulting in a strong and growing pipeline of high quality, in-demand jobs and grows the number of businesses as well as creating opportunities for University of North Alabama students, who desire, to stay in the region .  Shoals Shift includes innovation and entrepreneurship education, competitions and mentoring that advances interested students towards starting their own venture or joining the employment of local companies. Specifically, students can enter the Shoals Idea Audition – 3-minute pitch contest, the 3 Day Startup weekend, enroll in Innovation Engineering or apply to be a part of the Generator, student incubator and mentoring.  Prior to 2014 students did not have a university and community supported program of innovation and entrepreneurship. A unique core team consisting of leaders from the University of North Alabama College of Business, Shoals Entrepreneurial Center and Shoals Chamber of Commerce met in January 2014 and began a journey together that now guides the development of networks that initiate and manage innovation and entrepreneurship projects.  Using Strategic Doing,  a flexible agile process, the core team has been guiding the project which engaged over 150 students with over 30 students applying and enrolling at the Generator to develop their idea, and led over 10 students to compete in the annual Shoals Idea Audition.

Talent + Place Category

Central New York Agricultural Testing and Analysis Labs
Submitted by State University of New York at Oswego

The SUNY Oswego Agricultural Testing and Analysis Labs (2) were developed in response to local industry demand for closing the export loop within our regional economy. SUNY Oswego partnered with State of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who provided a $250,000 capital investment for lab equipment, and the Port of Oswego Authority who provided the global interface to business and industry to create a student training lab in SUNY Oswego’s Shineman Center for Science, Engineering and Innovation, and a duplicate industry lab just one mile away at the Port of Oswego Authority.

As a result, the testing needs of the nation’s largest exporter, Perdue AgriBusiness were immediately met, valuable experiential learning opportunities in food safety became widely available to SUNY Oswego students, and new opportunities to expand New York’s vibrant agriculture and food industries is poised to position the state to set a national standard.

Local sourcing, transporting, testing and exporting will result in full engagement of regional economic development opportunities by providing significant cost savings to local business and industry who transport and/or export grain and other food products, as well as a strong, sustainable agricultural sourcing link in the center of New York State.  Additionally, environmental benefits will also be realized by reducing the transportation footprint, and real-world, hands-on laboratory experience for SUNY Oswego students will translate into future careers in food testing, including but not limited to nutrition labeling, microbiology, microscopy, chemistry and sampling.

Place Category

RedTire: Helping to Sustain Rural Businesses in the U.S.
Submitted by University of Kansas

RedTire from the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Kansas helps to sustain the economic wellbeing of rural businesses in the US. The RedTire program, the only one of its kind in the country, addresses the shuttering of small and medium sized businesses of retiring owners by finding replacement ownership from qualified university alumni, helping to negotiate a fair transaction price for the sale of the business, assisting in the transition to new ownership and providing mentoring to insure business success after the sale. Assistance is provided free of charge due to the efficiency of RedTire’s operation and subsidy from the Economic Development Administration. Since its inception 32 months ago, the program has successfully assisted in 18 transactions thereby insuring continued employment for the companies’ 164 employees. 

Place + Innovation Category

The Energy Institute at the Powerhouse Energy Campus
Submitted by Colorado State University

Colorado State University’s Energy Institute at the Powerhouse Energy Campus is one of the nation’s top academic laboratories, a showcase of clean energy research and technology known for its unique interdisciplinary approach to global problem-solving. Driven by visionary leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit, the virtual institute unites 12 affiliated centers and eight colleges under a single mission to grow the impact, reach and reputation of energy education and research at CSU.  The Powerhouse Campus is a physical manifestation of the university’s investment and commitment in this field as a leading model of collaborative space, green construction and integrated design. An emphasis on student-centered experiential learning has distinguished the institute as an educational innovator and fostered a robust startup community in clean energy technologies.  EnviroFit International is a notable example of a student-founded social enterprise that has brought transformative energy solutions to the developing world. The university’s leadership in clean energy was instrumental in catalyzing a collaborative culture of innovation in Fort Collins, prompting recognition of the city by the Smithsonian Institution as the contemporary example of six “Places of Invention” throughout American history. The collective impact of the Energy Institute and its affiliated centers is vast and diverse, encompassing job and business creation, commercialization of groundbreaking technologies, and the delivery of energy savings and health benefits to local and global communities.


Occasionally, the UEDA Awards of Excellence committee deems an initiative to be deserving of the Judges’ Award, which, for 2016, recognized an initiative that represents the convergence of all categories.


Judges’ Award Winner

Santa Fe Community College
Santa Fe Community College Training Center Corporation

Integrated within instructional programs at Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) that are currently collaborating with the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and developing new programs that articulate to in- and out-of-state universities, the Training Center Corporation (TCC) is established to support entrepreneurial activities.  The TCC commercialization enterprise empowers local innovation, creates high-paying, technology-based jobs; and foster an environment of entrepreneurship and continued higher education in Santa Fe.  TCC economic development initiatives diversify the local/regional economy by leveraging relationships and supporting start-up ventures from the neighboring national laboratories by further connecting them with an academic and entrepreneurial environment that fosters innovation and is known for creativity.  The primary goals of the TCC are to substantially expose students and graduates to opportunities in a new economic venue that strengthens and empowers our community.


Nominations for the 2017 Awards of Excellence program will begin in the spring of 2017 and are open to all competitive initiatives. Watch for more information at

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 or four 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, impact originality, and the ability to be replicated. Awards were presented at the awards banquet at the 2016 Annual Summit held in Roanoke, VA. The 2017 UEDA Summit will be held in Long Beach, CA in October 2017.


About UEDA

Established in 1976, UEDA is North America’s membership organization that brings together public and private higher education; private sector; public agencies; and community economic development stakeholders in economic development. UEDA’s members work to expand economic opportunity and prosperity in our communities and regions by leveraging education / talent development; research and technology development; and community-building and place-making strategies. UEDA’s mission is to serve its members by advancing knowledge and practice in economic engagement by institutions of higher education.