The University of Wisconsin System has earned national recognition from the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) for promoting economic prosperity by helping students and alumni build career connections with area businesses. The UW System was one of four finalists in the 2016 UEDA Awards of Excellence innovation category from nominations submitted throughout North America.

“The UW System is proud to be recognized for developing innovative partnerships and building effective networks statewide to connect talented students and alumni with businesses looking to employ them,” said UW System President Ray Cross. “This wonderful acknowledgement by our peers clearly indicates this is the type of work that should be emulated in other states.”

“We are pleased to be partnering with the UW System and helping to support entrepreneurship and build careers for Wisconsin residents,” said Tricia Braun, Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). “This work reflects our collaboration with the UW System and our partnerships with its campuses across the state. We appreciate the national recognition and look forward to continuing to support business and economic development across Wisconsin.”

The UW System’s project, “Threading the Triple Helix – University-Government-Business Alignment,” was recognized as a best-practice initiative in university-based economic development and as a leading-edge national example of regional transformation for economic prosperity. The project was characterized as an innovative, scalable, and sustainable solution that should be replicated. The award reflects the judges’ recognition of UW System’s broad and deep partnerships with WEDC and Wisconsin businesses, as well as the broad scope of UW System initiatives.

Over the past several years, the UW System has worked to establish key public and private partnerships with state workforce, economic development, technology, and human resources entities. The UEDA evaluators included these factors in naming the UW System a finalist:

  • Policy and program leadership through the Board of Regents’ Research, Economic Development, and Innovation Committee (REDI);
  • The attraction of $7.9 million in private match funds from U.S. and global partners to support faculty research and campus-based economic development initiatives;
  • Support for 49 new doctorate-level nursing/healthcare practitioners to expand teaching capacity;
  • Business assistance to 5,000+ firms in Wisconsin that received start-up advice, financial counsel, and technology-transfer support;
  • The launch of the UW System Career Connect web portal and the ongoing promotion of internships leading to careers in high-demand areas;
  • The success of Ideadvance, a jointly funded public-private partnership initiative that combines early-stage grants with business mentoring to encourage the development of innovative ideas and potential startups from UW System faculty, staff, and student entrepreneurs; and
  • Specialized technology transfer capabilities offered by the WiSys Technology Foundation to support undergraduate research and innovation.

The UW System’s Office of Economic Development was founded in 2012 in conjunction with the state’s public-private economic development unit, WEDC, to develop a broad range of collaborative and innovative partnerships across a wide range of industry sectors and government partners.

UEDA, established in 1976, serves as North America’s membership organization for bringing together stakeholders in economic development from public and private higher education, the private sector, public agencies, and communities.

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