U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $2.5 Million to Strengthen Innovation and Economic Growth Initiatives

Colleges and Universities in 16 States and Puerto Rico Awarded Funding Through Economic Development Competition


Monday, November 7, 2016

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today announced the winners of the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) 2016 University Center Economic Development Program Competition. EDA is providing a total of $2,518,373 in grants to 24 colleges and universities in 16 states and Puerto Rico to run five-year programs that will leverage university assets to promote American innovation and strengthen regional economies.

“EDA’s University Center program marshals the resources located within colleges and universities to support economic development strategies in regions in chronic and acute economic distress,” said Secretary Pritzker. “The investments announced today will allow these higher education institutions to build the public-private partnerships that are so vital to helping America stay innovative and competitive in the 21st century.”

Announced in March, this year’s competition was open to higher education institutions and consortia of accredited institutions of higher education in states supported by EDA’s Chicago and Philadelphia regional offices. It funds initiatives that are focused on advancing regional commercialization efforts, entrepreneurship, innovation, business expansion in a region’s innovation cluster, and a high-skilled regional workforce.

The grantees from EDA’s Chicago Regional Office are: 

  • University of Illinois-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois: $54,000 to provide direct technical assistance to Economic Development Districts (EDDs), governments, economic development organizations, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and nonprofit groups in the region; conduct applied research; and disseminate information about and the results of the University Center’s economic development activities. The University Center will also host an annual Regional Summit conference where administrators, innovators and economic developers gather to network, identify issues, and showcase best practices.
  • University of Illinois-Chicago, Chicago, Illinois: Receiving $54,000 to provide technical assistance to businesses and entrepreneurs to help them acquire resources, improve capacities, and develop effective strategies for growth, sustainability, and global competitiveness. The University Center also will provide technical assistance to Economic Development Districts (EDDs), governments, economic development organizations, entrepreneurs, small businesses and non-profit groups and disseminate the results of both technical assistance and applied research.
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, and Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana: $160,000 for a joint university center program that will build and sustain vibrant local and regional collaborations; expand the suite of innovative data tools for advancing local and regional planning; strengthen the connection of entrepreneurs and small businesses to their region's innovation clusters; and explore the talent needs of regional innovation clusters and enhance the talent pipeline of Indiana’s economic development organizations.
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan: $150,000 to provide technical assistance, conduct applied research, and disseminate information about and the results of University Center’s economic development activities. The University Center will also host an annual year-end Regional Economic Innovation Summit where innovators and economic developers gather to identify issues.
  • University of Michigan–Flint, Flint, Michigan: $80,000 to coordinate, inform, and contribute to economic development efforts that cultivate innovation, and advance high-growth entrepreneurship, needed to build and sustain a diversified economy throughout the region. The University Center also will identify regional assets, evaluate each asset’s impact, collect data, conduct an annual regional business survey, consolidate findings and create and disseminate asset map.
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota: $160,373 to support collaborative regional innovation and documentation of new tools, models, policies, and practices to improve access to capital for small businesses. The University Center also will provide technical assistance to Economic Development Districts (EDDs), governments, and economic development organizations.
  • Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio and Ohio University, Athens, Ohio: $150,000 for a joint University Center program that will provide direct technical assistance to businesses and entrepreneurs to help them acquire resources, improve capacities, and develop effective strategies for growth, sustainability and global competitiveness. The Center will disseminate the results of both technical assistance and applied research through State of the Region conferences.
  • Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio: $80,000 to conduct a University Center program that will serve a 21-county Northeast Ohio region providing general technical assistance and applied research support to entrepreneurs. The program also includes researching the ecology of innovation and advanced manufacturing base.
  • University of Wisconsin–Extension, Madison, Wisconsin: $150,000 to provide technical assistance, conduct applied research, and disseminate information about and the results of University Center’s economic development activities. The University Center also will provide technical assistance to Economic Development Districts (EDDs), governments, and economic development organizations.
  • University of Wisconsin–Stout, Menomonie, Wisconsin: $80,000 to provide impacts-driven technical assistance and conduct applied research to produce measurable economic development outcomes to the region.

The grantees from EDA’s Philadelphia Regional Office are:

  • Becker College, Worcester, Massachusetts: $116,667 for the MassDiGI University Center, which will focus on enhancing the global competitiveness of the digital game industry clusters and academic programs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that will strategically augment and foster opportunity, job growth and economic development.
  • Delaware State University, Dover, Delaware: $116,667 for the University Center for Economic Development and International Trade (UCEDIT), which will leverage partnerships to support business expansion in the region's food innovation and SME manufacturing clusters, develop a high-skilled regional workforce, advance high-growth entrepreneurship and cultivate innovation by providing platforms for intellectual exchange, business incubation, technology transfer and commercialization.
  • Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia: $116,667 for the Robert C. Byrd Institute's (RCBI) Accelerate Forward (RCBIAF) University Center, which will be run in partnership with Concord University to support an entrepreneur and innovation focused economic ecosystem in West Virginia by expanding the current West Virginia University Center (WVUC) statewide, advancing regional commercialization efforts and developing a high-skilled regional workforce.
  • Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania: $116,667 to launch a sustainable and collaborative regional innovation project called the Pennsylvania Regional Entrepreneurship Assistance Program (PA REAP). The program will leverage the University's system of regional Commonwealth campuses by connecting 16 new regional entrepreneurial and economic development support centers to be launched by the Invent Penn State initiative. PA REAP will create high-wage jobs in distressed Pennsylvania communities through regional cultivation of entrepreneurial startup activities.
  • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, New Jersey: $116,667 to support the Rutgers University Technical Assistance Program (RUTAP), a “One-Stop-Shop” for technical assistance. RUTAP will integrate university and local resources to encourage 3D printing urban clusters that can revive the State’s manufacturing base in distressed communities to increase New Jersey’s competitiveness and job creation capability and drive economic growth in economically underserved communities. This program supports regional innovation clusters, urban entrepreneurship, developing a skilled workforce and re-shoring manufacturing jobs. RUTAP leverages University resources from all of the state's research universities to ensure statewide coverage and support regional strategies that promote the development of high-skilled regional talent pools, and business expansion in New Jersey.
  • The Research Foundation for the State University of New York at Albany, Albany, New York: $116,667 to establish a Cybersecurity Innovation and Research Center for University-Industry Technologies (CIRCUIT) to advance a long-term high throughput engine of economic growth for New York State’s Capital region through networking, collaborations, research, entrepreneurial opportunities and job creation in the field of cybersecurity.
  • University of Connecticut, Mansfield, Connecticut: $116,667 to support the Connecticut Manufacturing Simulation Center (CMSC), which will work to increase the capabilities of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in computational modeling and simulation technologies as a means to cultivate innovation, develop a high-skilled workforce and expand regional businesses.
  • University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland: $116,667 to support a partnership between the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), and Morgan State University (MSU) that will provide targeted assistance to entrepreneurs with a focus on research commercialization, workforce development, entrepreneurship and business counseling services. The Center will also help local organizations conduct preliminary feasibility studies, analyze data and convene seminars and workshops on regional strategic planning and capital budgeting.
  • University of Puerto Rico: $116,667 for the University of Puerto Rico Business & Economic Development Center (BEDC), which will work to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem and advance social innovation in Puerto Rico by promoting high growth entrepreneurship and commercialization efforts among innovation driven startups and existing enterprises.
  • University of Rochester, Rochester, New York: $116,667 to support the University of Rochester Ain Center for Entrepreneurship, which will work to cultivate innovation, expand business in the Finger Lakes Region’s innovation cluster and develop a highly-skilled regional workforce. Building off the success of the University of Rochester NSF I-Corps Site program, the University Center will provide early-stage entrepreneurship support and offer training programs for student venture teams and community participants to validate non-technical business ideas and projects targeting both urban and rural areas in the nine-county Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York.
  • University of Southern Maine, Portland, Maine: $116,667 for the Maine Center for Business and Economic Research (MCBER), which will focus on promoting innovation and economic diversity in forest resource industries and communities, developing innovative strategies to attract and cultivate Maine's knowledge workforce that supports the state's technology clusters and provide commercialization and tech transfer services that support the state's innovation ecosystems.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia: $116,663. Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development (OED), in partnership with the Center for Enterprise Innovation (CEI) at Old Dominion University (ODU), will implement the Virginia Regional Competitiveness Project (VRCP), as a multi-institution University Center Program. The University Center will leverage public and private investment and resources to enhance regional competitiveness, connectivity and economic diversification by focusing on commercialization, cultivating a high-skilled workforce and supporting entrepreneurship.

To learn more about EDA’s University Centers and future grant competitions, please visit: https://www.eda.gov/programs/university-centers/.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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Last updated: 2016-11-07 09:50

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