Pitt Listed as a Top School for Spurring Innovation, Prosperity

Issue Date: 
August 4, 2014

In recognition of its strong commitment to economic engagement, the University of Pittsburgh has been designated an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). The designation acknowledges universities working with public and private sector partners in their states and regions to support economic development through a variety of activities, including innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, talent and workforce development, and community development.

Pitt and 13 other public institutions make up the APLU’s second annual class of Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities. The other institutions are Georgia Institute of Technology, Indiana University, North Carolina State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, South Dakota State University, Texas Tech University, the University of Houston, the University of Illinois, the University of Massachusetts Boston, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Virginia Tech, and Wayne State University.

“Public universities serve as economic engines for their local communities and states by conducting cutting-edge research to reach new breakthroughs and by developing the talent to help existing businesses grow stronger and enabling new ones to develop and thrive,” APLU President Peter McPherson said. “The 14 institutions receiving the 2014 Innovation and Economic Prosperity University designation serve as models. They demonstrate how public research universities extend beyond their campuses to engage their communities in economic development that creates jobs and improves lives.”

The universities received the designation after conducting a thorough self-review with outside stakeholder input and subsequently submitting an application that went through a rigorous independent review process. Pitt was recognized for its economic development initiatives such as the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse; neighborhood revitalization projects in Oakland and other city neighborhoods as well as in the communities of its regional campuses; and workforce development efforts that have stimulated Pittsburgh’s new “eds and meds” economy.

“This Innovation and Economic Prosperity University designation is an affirmation of the key role that the University of Pittsburgh is playing as a leader of innovation and economic development in Western Pennsylvania and beyond,” said Mark A. Nordenberg. “Since 1995, Pitt has attracted more than $9 billion of sponsored research support into this region. Our research has played a key role in the foundation for such future-oriented technology-based economic development initiatives as the Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse, the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, the Pittsburgh Robotics Foundry, and the Technology Collaborative. And the ‘eds and meds’—with Pitt sitting at their center—have been a principal driver of the new regional economy, now accounting for more than 20 percent of the region’s total employment. We are proud of this recognition from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.” 

As an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University designee, Pitt will work with the APLU’s Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity to assess and further develop its efforts by using the commission’s “Economic Engagement Framework” tools for self-assessment and economic impact analysis. Through the partnership, the University will advance its newest innovation and economic development initiatives, including the Innovation Institute and the PittServes program, which connects students with volunteer opportunities in the community. 

Through its designation, Pitt also qualifies to submit an application for the APLU’s 2014 Innovation and Economic Prosperity University Awards, which will be presented at the association’s annual meeting in November. The awards include an “IEP Connections” award, recognizing the university that is doing the most to build connections between categories of economic engagement—innovation and entrepreneurship; talent development; and social, community, and cultural development. “Best in class” awards will also be given in each category of talent, innovation, and place.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities is a research, policy, and advocacy organization representing 234 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations. Founded in 1887, the APLU is North America’s oldest higher education association with member institutions in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, Canada, and Mexico. Annually, APLU member campuses enroll 4.7 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.1 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff, and conduct $41 billion in university-based research.