Published: Dec. 12, 2019 By

Above: Mark Kennedy (University of Colorado President), Karen Regan (Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation at CU Boulder), Terri Fiez (Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation at CU Boulder); Christina Gonzalez (Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at CU Boulder) and Heather Bené (University of Colorado Assistant Vice President of Research & Federal Relations) commemorate the IEP designation. 

The University of Colorado Boulder was one of just three recipients of the coveted Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) University designation at this year’s Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Annual Meeting held in San Diego, CA in November.

Among the conference attendees on-hand to receive the award were University of Colorado System President Mark Kennedy and CU Boulder's Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation Terri Fiez and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Karen Regan.

“Innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development are essential components of what we do at the University of Colorado, so it was great to be able to be on hand at the APLU conference to see CU Boulder receive the Innovation and Economic Prosperity award,” said CU President Mark Kennedy. “The designation further solidifies CU Boulder’s place among the leaders nationally in this area and it is also a testament to the many great people engaged in exciting projects across the campus and in communities.”

According to the APLU, the IEP designation “helps higher education institutions codify, elevate and advance their enterprise supporting economic and community development while providing national recognition to institutions committed to university economic development.” 

This effort was led by Regan and Senior Research Development Officer Ryan Reeves, both of the Research & Innovation Office. With generous support from colleagues across campus, they completed a rigorous self-study and stakeholder engagement process, including identifying economic development strengths and areas of growth and improvement. The process ultimately engaged more than 3,500 external stakeholders from academia, industry, government, education, associations and community groups, including local Chambers of Commerce.

“The IEP designation reflects how the CU Boulder Innovation & Entrepreneurship initiative has brought the campus and the broader community together,” said Fiez, who was recently named a 2019 National Academy of Inventors Fellow. “This synergy has boosted visibility for both new and longstanding programs that make our ecosystem hum—opportunities like our Student Innovation Action Team, New Venture Challenge business plan competition, Commercialization Academy for faculty and graduate student researchers, and our mentor network—making it easier than ever for our campus and community to explore innovative and impactful collaborations together.” 

Walking the innovation walk

CU first learned it would receive the IEP honor in April, when the university was invited to join the University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase on Capitol Hill. The event spotlighted 20 startups from across the nation founded on products and services using federally funded, university-based research. 

Jeanne Barthold and APLU President Peter McPherson

CU Boulder PhD student Jeanne Barthold discusses her spinout company TissueForm with APLU President Peter McPherson at the University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase on Capitol Hill.

CU Boulder was enthusiastically represented at the showcase by fourth-year PhD student and researcher Jeanne Barthold on behalf of TissueForm, a spinout company founded on technology from a CU Boulder research lab and enhanced by university’s innovation offerings, including the Lab Venture Challenge and New Venture Challenge.

The company seeks to help patients suffering from tissue disease, damage or aging through its simple, low-cost, and long-lasting dermal filler technology. Their ClayMatrix™ technology originated from research that Barthold performed in Professor Cory Neu's Soft Tissue Bioengineering Lab within the Mechanical Engineering Department.

During the visit, Barthold met with congressional staff from the offices of Colorado Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet, as well as Representatives Joe Neguse and Ed Perlmutter. At the showcase, she also met with officials from NIH and NSF, the agencies which sponsored the research that led to TissueForm, as well as both AAU and APLU's presidents. 

Access to events like the University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Showcase is just one example of the IEP designation’s value in increasing visibility of the university as a leader in innovation.

More about the designation

The IEP designation recognizes institutions with a proven substantive, sustainable and campus-wide commitment to exemplary economic engagement, or the ways in which universities and their public-private partners contribute to economic and social prosperity and opportunity. The IEP awards, meanwhile, recognize innovative projects or programs in economic engagement. 

“Economic engagement and development cuts to the heart of public universities’ mission to advance the public good,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “We applaud the winners of this year’s APLU Innovation & Economic Prosperity University Awards. They stand out as excellent examples of how public universities are addressing their communities’ needs and advancing regional economic development.”

Sixty-five institutions have been named IEP Universities designees since the program was launched in 2012.

Learn more about the university’s innovation ecosystem here