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Excellence in Innovation and Economic Engagement Award

In July 2017, Kansas State University was named an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) Commission on Innovation, Competiveness, and Economic Prosperity (CICEP) for the institution's strong commitment to economic engagement. The commission created the Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) Universities Designation and Awards program to recognize universities that are leaders in spurring and promoting regional economic development.
 
As a part of the K-State self-assessment and improvement plan associated with the designation process, one finding was the need to enhance rewards and recognition for economic engagement activities. As a result, Kansas State University has created an Excellence in Innovation and Economic Engagement Award to recognize faculty and staff, centers, institutes, and units engaged in work that advances innovation and the economic prosperity of our region.
 
The K-State Excellence in Innovation and Economic Engagement Award recognizes exemplary economic engagement across efforts in Talent, Innovation, and Place, plus the intersections of these categories.
  • Talent: focus on education and workforce development
  • Innovation: focus on innovation- and technology-based economic development 
  • Place: focus on social, cultural, or community development
Finalists will be invited to present their work as a keynote at the K-State Research Showcase at K-State Olathe on May 16, 2018. The winner will be announced and recognized at the Showcase and will receive a commemorative plaque, along with a certificate and a $1,000 grant to advance their economic engagement efforts. Finalists and winners will also be featured in news stories and promotions about K-State’s economic engagement activities.   
 
Application and Nomination Submission Guidelines
  • Application and nominations materials submitted for the 2018 awards are due April 1, 2018 and should be submitted via email to Rebecca Robinson at spexarth@ksu.edu
  • Applications or nomination should be a narrative that is no longer than 2 pages total that answers the key questions below
  • Submission should include an overview of economic engagement work, including how it advances talent, innovation or place (or the intersection of these elements) and metrics of success
  • Illustration: Each narrative must be accompanied by at least one photo or drawing that has a clear center of interest, draws attention, and captures the essence or a key aspect by telling the story. No simple head shots of people should be included. The photo is not included in the two-page limit for the narrative.
  • Metrics: Each narrative must include at least one quantitative measure of the described impact. The metric used is at your discretion—use a figure or figures that are most appropriate to the story.
  • Link to more Information: Provide interested readers with an opportunity to learn more about the activities highlighted in the narrative by including a link or links to: websites and/or other social media outlets, formal or informal reports on the activity or project, articles in university publications, press clippings, videos, or blogs. 

Key Questions for Award Submissions: The following are the sorts of questions that can help uncover thoughts and approaches to choosing and writing a submission that will capture and reward reader interest. 

  • In one sentence, what’s the story? 
  • Exactly what’s new, different, or unique about this? 
  • What impact has it had? How do you measure impact, or how will you measure impact? 
  • Describe how you worked with the university and its innovation partners to bring the highlighted program or initiative to fruition.
  • What barriers had to be overcome? How? 
  • Why should people care about this? How will it affect their lives?

Additional Information and Ideas for Submissions

Because Innovation and Economic Prosperity are central phrases in this program, it is important to clearly articulate the intended meanings. 
  • Innovation in the context of economic development often refers to technology transfer and other ways of making the results of scientific research relevant and useful. More broadly, innovation means new or novel methods, ideas, products. It is anticipated that many of the applications will highlight examples of the first definition of innovation, the word innovation in the title of this award is also meant to suggest that exemplary practices are innovative and sustainable, whether they be in technology transfer, entrepreneurship, in talent development, or in university contributions to the social, cultural, and community aspects of economic development or engagement. It is also important to note that for something to be an innovation, it needn’t be new or novel to the field as a whole— adopting a practice from somewhere else, representing a new or novel practice for your field of work or a first adoption by K-State can be considered to be implementing innovation. 
  • Economic prosperity is also defined broadly for the purposes of the award. Most conversations about economic development focus on expanding financial wealth. Helping to promote and sustain economic prosperity is an important goal of university economic engagement efforts. Financial prosperity, however, is tightly interconnected with the development of human and social capital, and with the nurturing of community and cultural assets. Economic prosperity, for the purposes of this award, means attention to building value in all of these areas mentioned. 
Some ideas for submissions: 
  • A promising/successful spinoff company based on university technology
  • A profile of a company that regularly hires alumni and attributes its success to that talent
  • A novel program or activity designed to have an impact on innovation or the economy 
  • A particularly productive collaboration with industry 
  • A university investment or commitment that has implications for the economy 
  • Faculty being promoted and/or tenured based on scholarship of engagement 
  • New courses designed to spur innovation, creativity, or entrepreneurship among students 
  • Student initiatives that make a difference (a solar car team or venture fund) 
  • A major grant or award that strengthens the region’s innovative capacity or potential 
  • Business plan competitions that create new startup companies 
  • A sustained effort that creates new jobs or economic opportunities as part of your institution’s economic growth engine 
  • Collaborations among universities that can lead and sustain economic development 
  • Expert commentary—insights on major trends and issues having to do with entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic development in the state 
  • Examples of student capstone projects or civic activities that serve the mission of the college or university by helping keep jobs, creating new economic opportunities that did not exist before and/or improve the quality of life for people the institution serves 
  • Surveys/study results—anything on economic or workforce trends, alumni entrepreneurship, economic development 
  • Successful collaborative efforts to lure or grow new/existing companies into the region and/or state 

Download a PDF of the guidelines.