University Economic Development Association

University Economic Development Association membership selects leading best practices in university-based economic development

Finalists in Awards of Excellence Program Exemplify the Top Higher Education-Led Initiatives in Regional Economic Transformation


LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA – October 9, 2017 – Last week, the University Economic Development Association(UEDA) announced winners of its annual Awards of Excellence program during their Annual Summit in Long Beach, California.

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 six categories: 1) Innovation; 2) Innovation + Talent; 3) Talent 4) Talent + Place; 5) Place; and 6) Place + Innovation.

“This year’s Awards of Excellence finalists exemplify the top initiatives in higher education economic development,” said Tim Hindes, UEDA Executive Director. “Category leaders selected this year have achieved sustainable models that are making remarkable, positive 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 2017 Awards of Excellence category winners are:

Innovation Category

Lehigh-KEEN Initiative
Submitted by Lehigh University

Innovation + Talent Category

StreetWise ‘MBA’™
Submitted by Interise

Talent Category

Women Who Weld
Submitted by Michigan State University Center for Community and Economic Development- EDA University Center for Regional Economic Innovation (REI)

Talent + Place Category

NIU Engineering @ RVC
Submitted by Northern Illinois University

Place Category

A Tale of Two Cities: How Sea Grant Helped Tybee Island
and St. Marys to Save Money While Saving Lives

Submitted by The University of Georgia

Place + Innovation Category

Launch Alaska
Submitted by The University of Alaska Center for Economic Development

Judges’ Award Winner

Gap Analysis Reporting
Submitted by Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education

Nominations for the 2018 Awards of Excellence program will begin in the spring of 2018 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 2017 Annual Summit held in Long Beach, CA. The 2017 Annual Summit was generously sponsored by CSU5, Elsevier, and The Lemelson Foundation. The 2018 UEDA Summit will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in October 2018.

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.