An Engine of Innovation

UCare bus

The University of Minnesota has been named one of 16 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities by the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU). The designation, which was awarded at APLU’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. on November 12, honors universities committed to working with public and private sector partners to support economic development through innovation and entrepreneurship, technology transfer, and workforce and community development.

The 16 institutions that comprise the inaugural class of Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities are: Boise State University; California State University, Fresno; Northern Illinois University; The Ohio State University; The State University of New York; University of Central Florida; University of Cincinnati; University of Georgia; University of Idaho; University of Memphis; University of Michigan; University of Minnesota, University of Missouri; University of Oklahoma; University of Toledo; and Washington State University.

“Universities are economic engines that not only directly employ people, but also generate research-based innovation and technical expertise that allow businesses to start up, grow, and thrive,” said APLU President M. Peter McPherson in the organization’s announcement.  “This designation recognizes universities that are really stepping up to strengthen their local economy.”

The University’s winning application featured case studies from the School of Dentistry, the Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC), the Office for the Senior Vice President for Research.  The examples included:

  • The School of Dentistry’s Outreach Program in locations such as the UCare’s Mobile Dental Clinic, in which students and faculty travel throughout the state to treat patients in underserved communities, and the Hibbing Community College Dental Clinic where students treat patients and learn about life and practice in rural communities; and  
  • UROC’S contributions to economic development, community health and education through such projects as the Northside Job Creation Team, the action research team on juvenile sex trafficking, and the Northside Achievement Zone/Family Academy project.
  • The Office of Senior Vice President for Research’s technology commercialization efforts including the Entrepreneurial Leave Program that encourages researches to take shorts leaves to assist companies commercializing discoveries, and the Minnesota Innovation Partnership, which allows companies to pay a low, one-time, upfront fee in return for an exclusive worldwide license to related intellectual property;

“Involving faculty members and students in community-engaged initiatives is one important way that the University is advancing economic development across the state.” said Andrew Furco, the University’s Associate Vice President for Public Engagement.  “Through its Public Engagement Ten-Point Plan, the University is taking strategic, bold steps to further strengthen the institutional structures, systems, and culture in order that high impact, results-oriented community-engaged research, teaching and outreach initiatives can thrive.”