Source: Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU)

Ames, IAThe Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) today named Iowa State University a 2020 Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) awardee.

APLU’s IEP Universities designation program helps higher education institutions codify, elevate, and advance their enterprise supporting economic and community development while providing national recognition to institutions committed to university economic development. In order to earn the designation, institutions complete a rigorous self-study and stakeholder engagement process. They also identify their economic development strengths and areas of growth and improvement. Today, APLU also named the University of Tennessee, University of Texas at El Paso, and the University of Utah as IEP University Designees. Nearly 70 institutions have been named IEP Universities designees since the program was launched in 2012.

“This recognition by APLU is a testament to our faculty, staff and students who are living our new brand campaign Innovate at Iowa State,” said Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen. “Through our culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, Iowa State University is a proven leader in creating economic opportunities and fueling growth for the state of Iowa and beyond.”

Iowa State University won the IEP Innovation award, recognizing exemplary initiatives spurring innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology-based economic development.

“Many communities are reeling from the economic devastation wrought by the global pandemic,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “As leaders in economic development, this year’s designees and award winners are well-positioned to play an important role in our economic recovery and help drive longer term economic growth and prosperity.”

To be eligible for an IEP award, an institution must first earn the Innovation and Economic Prosperity University (IEP) designation from APLU, which recognizes institutional commitment to regional economic development.

IEP designees conduct a rigorous self-study of their economic engagement activities that includes input from external stakeholders. As part of the self-study, each institution identifies areas for growth and improvement within its economic engagement enterprise and developed an improvement plan. This work demonstrates a commitment to continuous learning and improvement in this kind of engagement vital to universities and their regional partners.

As defined by APLU’s Economic Engagement Framework – a series of tools and publications that helps institutions better know, measure, and communicate their work in economic engagement – universities collaborate with their public and private sector partners in their states and regions to promote economic growth, competitiveness, and opportunity through a variety of efforts across the aforementioned categories.

Iowa State University (ISU) has placed cultivating entrepreneurship and innovation at the heart of its economic engagement and development efforts. ISU has a host of programs centered on entrepreneurship, including an undergraduate major and minor, graduate certificate and Ph.D. program in the discipline, as well as experiential learning opportunities outside of the classroom and venture creation and small business support. To help create a flourishing manufacturing industry in Iowa, the university’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) provides services to strengthen businesses, working primarily in seven industries that comprise half of Iowa’s economy.

Amid the growing pandemic in March 2020, CIRAS identified companies with complementary capabilities to design, create, and produce desperately needed Personal Protective Equipment such as face shields. Within weeks, the joint venture was producing more than 150,000 units a week. The Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship is at the crossroads of the university’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem, providing a wide array of experiential and competitive learning opportunities and the tools and resources necessary to build and improve Iowa businesses. To date, 177 students have gained consulting experience through the CyBIZ Lab interdisciplinary student consulting program and 50 student ventures have participated in the CYstarters summer accelerator program. ISU has also launched a state-of-the-art Student Innovation Center, creating a hands-on hub for students to collaborate, design, build, and test their ideas.


APLU is a research, policy, and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. With a membership of 246 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations, APLU’s agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research, and expanding engagement. Annually, member campuses enroll 5.0 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.3 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff, and conduct $49.3 billion in university-based research.

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