November 06, 2018

Esteemed designation awarded to UAB due to overall regional economic impact

Written by: Briana Bryant

Media contact: Alicia Rohan



aplu bodyFollowing a rigorous self-study of the economic engagement enterprise of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Association of Public Land-grant Universities has designated UAB as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University. UAB now is among 64 higher education institutions nationwide that have been recognized under the program as leaders in promoting regional economic development.

“Research, innovation, economic development and community engagement are university priorities, as demonstrated in the mission pillars of UAB's strategic plan, Forging the Future,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts. “Being awarded the IEP designation further underscores UAB’s commitment to economic engagement.”

APLU’s Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities program measures economic engagement as a demonstrated, institutional-level commitment to the advancement of talent and workforce development; innovation, entrepreneurship and tech-based economic development; and place development via public service, community engagement, outreach and extension.

“Achieving this international recognition is only the beginning for the university,” said Kathy Nugent, Ph.D., executive director of the Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “We will use this momentum to expand UAB’s culture of collaboration and innovation, engage the community in an intentional and meaningful way and continue to impact society through innovation.”

UAB’s designation is the result of a year-long project led by the Bill L. Harbert Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in conjunction with the UAB Innovation Council. Working groups were formed in 2017 to review UAB’s efforts toward the principles of economic engagement, incorporating leaders from across the university’s schools, colleges and health systems, as well as a broad range of Birmingham stakeholders. The self-study process collected feedback through online surveys and focus groups of both internal and external participants.

“This process offered a chance to research and gather valuable insight that helped evaluate the university’s performance under our economic engagement goals,” Nugent said. “The resulting IEP proposal provided an opportunity to highlight UAB’s accomplishments as well as further define our goals for advancing economic engagement based on stakeholder feedback.”

The UAB programs dedicated to research, innovation and technology commercialization, entrepreneurial education, workforce development and community engagement that were highlighted in the IEP proposal, include:

The APLU, a research, policy and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities, will recognize UAB at its annual meeting in November. UAB joins Auburn University as the only IEP designated universities in the state of Alabama.