CSU named ‘Innovation & Economic Prosperity University’

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

The APLU designation recognizes public research 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.

‘Great honor, call to action’

Colorado State University president Tony Frank speaks during a leadership panel conversation at the Innovation and Economic Prosperity Feedback Forum earlier this year.
Colorado State University president Tony Frank speaks during a leadership panel conversation at the Innovation and Economic Prosperity Feedback Forum earlier this year.

“Innovation is at the very core of what makes Colorado State University and our community prosper, and this recognition as one of the nation’s most engaged and innovative universities is truly an honor,” Colorado State President Tony Frank said. “Our collaborations with industry and community leaders help us collectively tackle local and global challenges and also reveals that there is still much work to be done. While this designation by the APLU is a great honor, it is also a call to action for CSU and our community to continue innovating and collaborating, to build on our strengths, to recognize ways to improve, and to aspire toward even greater achievements.”

Colorado State received the designation after an independent panel reviewed the school’s application, which included an extensive internal review and analysis of its economic engagement activities that were conducted with outside stakeholder input, and was facilitated by CSU’s Office of Community and Economic Development and co-sponsored by the Vice President for Research.

Economic engine

“Public research universities such as Colorado State University serve as economic engines for their local communities and states by conducting cutting-edge research that yields breakthroughs that improve life well beyond the confines of campus,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “Equally important, these institutions cultivate the talent necessary to help fledgling business take flight and ensure existing enterprises have the human capital they need to maintain their dynamism.”

The designation cited CSU for its institutional leadership in sustainability, its breadth of distinctive educational programs meeting regional needs, the evolution of Extension to support responsive community development, and a multidisciplinary approach to advancing agricultural innovation in Colorado. In addition, research spending at Colorado State has topped $300 million for eight consecutive years, and in the most recent fiscal year CSU researchers filed 92 invention disclosures and were issued 49 patents.

“Colorado State University is striving to be a leader among 21st-century land-grant universities, in truly engaging our community partners in issues of economic development, innovation, workforce partnerships, industry connections, and through civic, social and arts collaborations,” said Provost Rick Miranda. “This designation by the APLU is wonderful recognition of our recent efforts – and it will spur us on to do even more in the coming years.”

The application also detailed the university’s action plan for improvement in specific areas, including greater collaboration and transparency in establishing economic and community development priorities, better support and rewards for faculty involvement in economic development activities, streamlining community access to university resources, and extending its leadership in diversity and inclusion from campus to community as a catalyst for innovation.

Innovation community

CSU is widely recognized as a place of innovation, perhaps most notably from the Smithsonian Institution. The Lemmelson Center within the American History Museum at the Smithsonian has included Fort Collins and CSU in its exhibit “Places of Invention.” It highlights the region’s contemporary work in clean energy development. Another example is “How a Place Matters” – a documentary the aired on Rocky Mountain PBS taking an in-depth look at what makes CSU and the city places of invention.

“Fort Collins is an innovation community. As a university city, we enjoy a multitude of benefits like extensive arts and culture, globally competitive technology companies, impactful fundamental research, a vibrant startup ecosystem, high rate of patents per capita, and excellent educational opportunities,” said Mayor Wade Troxell, who is also a CSU associate professor in mechanical engineering. “The IEP designation affirms a commitment to innovation for economic prosperity in collaboration with private sector partners and the citizens of Fort Collins. Thank you, CSU, for making the IEP commitment and congratulations on this designation recognition.”

As one of only six public universities to receive this honor in 2016, CSU is now one of 54 public schools designated as an IEP university. The 48 institutions designated in 2013, 2014, and 2015 have reported significant advancement of their efforts from their association with the program. They have identified new areas of opportunity in alignment with economic development objectives, developed deeper engagement with others in their regional innovation ecosystems, and made changes within the institution to expand their impact.

The university expects to share additional information about its findings and recommendations from the designation process in the coming weeks. Please visit source.colostate.edu/re-envision-csu/ to share ideas for CSU’s role in innovation and economic prosperity as part of our Re-Envision Colorado State initiative.