The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) has granted the University of South Florida (USF) an extended Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) University designation for its continued commitment to regional economic development. The IEP designation program recognizes universities that demonstrate a substantive, sustainable and institution-wide strategy for regional economic engagement, growth and opportunity.
“The University of South Florida is an engine for innovation, progress and opportunity — and this designation from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities supports our sustained commitment to fueling economic development and serving pressing needs in our communities,” said USF President Rhea Law. "We are grateful to the APLU for leading this valuable program and for continuing to recognize the important role USF plays in the prosperity of the Tampa Bay region.”
USF first earned the IEP designation in 2015. Four years later, the university won the APLU’s Institutional Award for Global Learning, Research and Engagement for its rapid transformation into a globally engaged university with the largest international student population of any university in Florida. In the same year, USF was named one of two finalists in the innovation category for APLU’s Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Award in recognition of its efforts to drive development in the underutilized center of downtown Tampa by moving the USF Health Morsani School of Medicine and Heart Institute downtown.
“As a research university situated in the heart of a growing metropolis, USF is an innovation catalyst for a skilled talent pool fueling social and economic prosperity,” said Interim Vice President for Research & Innovation Sylvia Wilson Thomas.
In its IEP extension application, USF cited the FinTech|X accelerator, Tampa Bay Technology Incubator, and Research Park innovation facility as examples of USF’s incubation impact in Tampa and noted the expansion of student internship opportunities through university partnerships with the Florida High Tech Corridor, St. Pete Innovation District, and Cyber Florida. The application also referenced the university’s work with community partners to enhance the development of Tampa and the area around USF, noting:
- College of Engineering’s grant-funded smart manufacturing certificate program, offered to residents of the economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in east Tampa
- USF’s Global and National Security Institute’s partnerships with Cyber Florida, MacDill Air Force Base, Institute of Applied Engineering,
U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command to provide solutions to modern-day
- Enhanced healthcare for the region through USF’s collaborations with Tampa General
Hospital, Johns Hopkins All-Children's Hospital, and Haley Veterans’ Hospital
- Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research's focus on helping communities mitigate and adapt to flooding risks through improved flood forecasting and science-based policy, planning, and management.
As an extended IEP designee, USF will continue to share best practices and learn from other institutions in the IEP network. USF will also be eligible to apply for the annual IEP Awards, which celebrate excellence in economic engagement.
The 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. The APLU’s Commission on Economic and Community Engagement (CECE) established the IEP program in 2013 to help higher education institutions strengthen their strategy and practices in economic and community development.