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Health Science Center receives innovation designation from APLU

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The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) on Nov. 16 named The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth (HSC) a 2021 Innovation & Economic Prosperity (IEP) Designee. The awards recognize innovative projects or programs in economic engagement.

APLU’s IEP Universities designation program 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. To earn the designation, institutions complete a rigorous self-study and stakeholder engagement process. They also identify their economic development strengths and areas of growth and improvement. APLU today named North Carolina A&T State University and The University of North Texas Health Sciences Center IEP University Designees. North Carolina A&T State is the first Historically Black College and University to receive the designation. Over 70 institutions have been named IEP Universities designees since the program was launched in 2012.

“This recognition is a testament to the innovative mindset we are cultivating at HSC and our investment in the Fort Worth innovation ecosystem,” said HSC President Dr. Michael Williams. “We are proud to be the first health science center and only post-graduate institution to receive the IEP University designation.”

Innovation is a key element of scientific discovery and HSC Center has made important steps in fostering the thinking, planning and execution necessary to drive innovation.

“APLU congratulates this year’s IEP Award winners for their dedication to economic development through their commitment to cultivating talent, innovation, and place-based

development in their communities,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “The excellence in economic development each winner has displayed illustrates how public universities can rise to meet the needs of their communities and make significant intellectual and economic contributions to the promote wellbeing of our nation.”

To be eligible for an IEP award, an institution must first earn the Innovation and Economic Prosperity University (IEP) designation from APLU, which recognizes institutional commitment to regional economic development.

A shared vision for economic engagement guides how HSC trains students, conducts research and stewards resources to the benefit of its community. Examples of how HSC is impacting economic prosperity in its community include the following.

• HSC trains more primary care doctors than any medical school in Texas, critically addressing Texas’ growing physician shortage.

• HSC is enrolling local patients in the first-ever large-scale study of the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease among the three largest ethnic/racial groups in the U.S.

• To combat the COVID-19 pandemic, HSC worked with community partners to operate test sites, manage vaccine centers, perform contact tracing and promote public health.

• On the HSC campus, new biotech startup companies are developing innovative therapies for treating diseases.

• Collaborating with the City of Fort Worth and TCU, HSC developed a digital platform to connect entrepreneurs with resources to support the growth of their companies (Sparkyard).

• HSC is taking directly to its community, health care solutions like the HSC Pediatric Mobile Clinic, the Mobile Vision Screening Program, and the Asthma 411 program.

“Even though HSC is the smallest institution to date to be designated an IEP University, we are very proud of the outsized impact on innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development HSC is making on the community,” said Dr. Robert McClain, Associate Vice President for HSC Next, who leads the HSC team focused on innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development.

IEP designees conduct a rigorous self-study of their economic engagement activities that includes input from external stakeholders. As part of the self-study, each institution identifies areas for growth and improvement within its economic engagement enterprise and developed an improvement plan. This work demonstrates a commitment to continuous learning and improvement in this kind of engagement vital to universities and their regional partners.

As defined by APLU’s Economic Engagement Framework – a series of tools and publications that helps institutions better know, measure, and communicate their work in economic engagement – universities collaborate with their public and private sector partners in their states and regions to promote economic growth, competitiveness, and opportunity through a variety of efforts across the aforementioned categories

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