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UM Named Innovation and Economic Prosperity University Designee

Members of the American Public and Land-grant Universities Innovation and Economic Prosperity Designee Steering Committee include (from left) UM staff members Katie Morrison, William Nicholas, Allyson Best and Jim Zook. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

One of the nation’s top higher education associations has recognized the University of Mississippi for leadership in fostering economic growth, prosperity and innovation.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities named UM an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University, a designation that recognizes the university’s strong commitment to economic engagement and its work with public and private sector partners in Mississippi and the region.

“The Innovation and Economic Prosperity designation validate the key role that UM is playing as a leader in innovation and economic engagement,” said William Nicholas, director of economic development and Insight Park. “We are committed to working alongside entrepreneurs, industry leaders and government officials as an engine of economic opportunity.”

The university began the application process for the designation in October and engaged in an extensive self-study that included, among other things, surveys and focus groups with stakeholders from around the state of Mississippi.

Nicholas, along with Allyson Best, director of the UM Office of Technology Commercialization, co-chaired a 10-person steering committee formed from the offices of Development, Diversity and Community Engagement, Information Technology, Marketing and Communications, Technology Commercialization and Insight Park, the university research park. The committee met regularly to provide overall guidance and evaluation of the university’s self-study in economic engagement activities.

“The university is committed to turning discoveries into jobs and companies,” Best said. “Part of our mission includes growing economic prosperity including providing opportunities for the people of Mississippi and beyond through excellence in learning, discovery, health care and engagement.”

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, or 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 this designation, UM joins more than 60 other top universities named in APLU’s Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities including Ohio State University, Virginia Tech, Clemson University and the University of Georgia.

“We are establishing partnerships and providing support to business and industry in the state and Mid-South region with an eye toward spurring growth,” said Josh Gladden, vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “The university has enjoyed an excellent partnership with APLU over the years and is thrilled to have been recognized as an IEP institution.

“This designation will help Ole Miss grow and strengthen our activities and partnerships which foster economic prosperity in the state through both research and innovation as well as experiential education opportunities for our students”

A highlight is the university’s Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Initiative at the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement. CEED works with communities across Mississippi to increase entrepreneurship and promote economic development in rural communities through engagement with Ole Miss students and faculty to build actionable partnerships with Mississippi communities.

The university is also home to a The Innovation Hub at Insight Park, a 62,000-square-foot building that serves as the gateway for Insight Park and offers custom space, shared equipment and flexible leasing agreements. Opportunities exist for industry engagement, collaborative research and student internships with partner companies.

Insight Park works closely with campus partners to attract university-based start-ups. Occupancy in the incubator space stands at 95 percent.

With a membership of 238 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.

The designation will be formally announced in November during the APLU annual meeting in San Diego.

By Edwin B. Smith

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