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Wayne State earns top designation for innovation and economic engagement in community

July 10, 2014

DETROIT--Wayne State University has announced that it is one of 14 institutions in the country to receive elite designation as an Innovation & Economic Prosperity University from its peers in 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. 

"Wayne State has demonstrated a deep and abiding commitment to its neighborhood and city," said Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson. "As a leader in Detroit's economic revitalization, the university has made economic engagement a priority--and I think we have made a real impact with financial investment, partnership development, and talent acquisition and development."

WSU and thirteen other public institutions comprise the second annual class of Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities: Georgia Institute of Technology, Indiana University, North Carolina State University, The 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, the University of Pittsburgh, and Virginia Tech.

"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 & 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."

WSU received this new distinction based on its support of innovation and influence on economic prosperity in Detroit and throughout Michigan.

"Whether it's the commercialization of new technology through our technology incubator program or bringing visionary thinkers to campus through events such as the Van Dusen Urban Leadership Forum, WSU embodies the spirit of innovation," said Wayne State Vice President of Economic Development Ned Staebler.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, the Live Midtown residential incentive and the Detroit Revitalization Fellows highlight some of the most impactful programs Wayne State has developed and supported over the last decade. As a result, its Midtown neighborhood is booming, with a 97 percent occupancy rate for residential and business spaces.

"We strive to ensure the maximum number of people benefit from our presence in Detroit," said Staebler. "Our Office of Economic Development exists to drive economic prosperity in the city, and its vision of helping to build a dynamic  community full of opportunity will be realized when all parties -- the university, residents, businesses and community organizations -- benefit from our growing number of investments and opportunities."

Innovation & Economic Prosperity University designees conducted an institutional self-study and solicited input from external stakeholders. Each university designee identified three areas of institutional strength in economic engagement, and described programs in these areas.  Designees also identified areas for growth and improvement for their university's economic engagement enterprise, and developed an improvement plan. This work demonstrated a commitment to continuous learning and improvement in this kind of engagement vital to universities and their regional partners.

WSU now qualifies to submit an application for APLU's 2014 Innovation and Economic Prosperity University Awards, which will be given out 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.