APLU, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, has granted Virginia Tech the designation Innovation and Economic Prosperity University, the group announced today. 

This is the second year APLU has bestowed the recognition on universities that support economic development in their regions and states.

The award, this year granted to 14 universities, acknowledges the role Virginia Tech plays in strengthening local and regional economies.

James Woodell, APLU's assistant vice president of Innovation and Technology Policy, says of the universities that were chosen, “Not only are they doing good things, but they have a solid understanding of how to keep the momentum going."

"One of Virginia Tech's strengths is its solid relationship with major industries," says Guru Ghosh, vice president for Outreach and International Affairs. "Another strength is our strong work with partners in all parts of Virginia, both in the private and public sectors, to carry out key economic-development initiatives. What's more, we've seen recent creation of faculty-led companies in the cyber and medical fields, which speaks to both the quality of Virginia Tech's research and its strength of faculty innovation applied to the creation of jobs."

An example of industry partnership in Blacksburg is the Virginia Tech Transportation Research Institute's work with General Motors to study how drivers interact with automated car technology. In Arlington, Virginia Tech's Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security is housed alongside its private-sector partner, L-3 Communications.

Another vital development at Virginia Tech is the goal to create a blueprint to eliminate barriers to innovation by attracting investors, engaging alumni, and taking other steps to promote the university's intellectual property, Ghosh says. Creating an environment for student and faculty innovation to flourish is part of the work of a yearlong Innovation Ecosystem Task Force chaired by Beth Tranter, chief of staff with Virginia Tech's Office of the Vice President for Research

An executive committee, chaired by Provost Mark G. McNamee, is now in the process of developing an action plan based on those recommendations. The executive committee also includes several deans and vice presidents from across the university; Virginia Tech Foundation CEO John Dooley; and Joe Meredith, president of the Corporate Research Center.

Among Virginia Tech's Office of Economic Development projects in the region:

  • A Virginia Tech-led team of almost 20 partners employed $3.8 million in federal stimulus money to train workers for new, green jobs in the construction industry.
  • Virginia Tech faculty members, working with industry partners, bolstered the transportation-related industry cluster in Southwest Virginia to strengthen the supply chain and create new products to help the companies flourish.

In 1862, Lincoln signed the Morrill Act establishing the land-grant college system. APLU, founded just 25 years later, is the premier organization representing institutions like Virginia Tech. A research, policy, and advocacy organization, its member campuses enroll 4.7 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.1 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff, and conduct $41 billion in university-based research.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.