ECU IEP designation

ECU graduate student Matt Gallagher, left, talks with an equipment operator at Cherry Research Farm in Goldsboro as part of a N.C. Agromedicine Institute program to improve operator comfort. ECU's involvement in the Agromedicine Institute is one of the attributes that helped ECU earn the designation of an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

ECU recognized for spurring innovation and economic prosperity

June 24, 2015

By Doug Boyd
ECU News Services

In recognition of its strong commitment to economic engagement, East Carolina University has been designated as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

Institutions that earn the designation work 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, according to APLU.

ECU is one of 18 universities named in APLU's third group of Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities.

The APLU describes public universities as economic engines for their communities and states, conducting cutting-edge research and developing the talent to help existing businesses grow stronger and new ones to develop and thrive. The work of the universities extends beyond their campuses into their communities in the form of economic development that creates jobs and improves lives.

All told, ECU had an economic impact of $2.8 billion across North Carolina in fiscal year 2012-13, according to a recent study by the University of North Carolina system. That included $1.8 billion to eastern North Carolina.

To earn the designation, ECU conducted an internal and external assessment of its regional economic development efforts and developed a comprehensive improvement plan. A 30-member task force worked through the nearly yearlong IEP application process under the leadership of Sharon Paynter, interim director of the Office of Public Service and Community Relations.

ECU was recognized for its economic development initiatives such as the Talent Enhancement and Capacity Building program, an innovative collaborative with the N.C. Department of Commerce that has been recognized as a national model for university-based economic development.

"This Innovation and Economic Prosperity University designation is an affirmation of the key role East Carolina University is playing as a leader in the creation of new ideas and new development in eastern North Carolina and beyond," said ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard.

From 2011 to 2013, ECU brought nearly $100 million in sponsored research support to the region. In addition, ECU has played a key role in service, research and development initiatives such as the School of Dental Medicine’s Community Service Learning Centers, the North Carolina Statewide Telepsychiatry Program, the N.C. Agromedicine Institute, the Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Academy and the Pharmaceutical Development and Manufacturing Center of Excellence.

Since 2010, the Office of Technology Transfer at ECU has filed 66 U.S. patent applications, had 25 U.S. patents granted and entered into 16 licensing agreements to commercialize ECU inventions.

In addition, ECU is in the early stages of developing a "millennial campus," where the university will partner with private business and industry to develop ideas and technologies.

The role of economic development in regional transformation is a key part of ECU’s latest strategic plan.

"ECU is charged with serving the citizens of North Carolina in ways that improve their lives," said Paynter. "Economic opportunity, job creation and the support of existing businesses and industries in this state create opportunities for North Carolinians, and ECU can and should aid in those efforts."

Paynter said the APLU designation is a reflection of the hard work and effort the university and its community and business partners are undertaking to support economic development and transformation in the region and statewide.

As an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University designee, ECU will work with the APLU 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 projects.

Through its designation, ECU also qualifies to submit an application for the APLU's 2015 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 among categories of economic engagement — innovation and entrepreneurship; talent development; and social, community and cultural development. "Best in class" awards will also be given in the categories of talent, innovation and place.

The APLU is a research, policy and advocacy organization representing 234 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems and affiliated organizations. Founded in 1887, it is North America’s oldest higher education association with member institutions in all 50 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.