Center for Innovation earns top honor from University Economic Development Association

(JACKSON, Miss.) — The Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Jackson State University earned the 2020 Award of Excellence for Innovation during a virtual summit at the headquarters of the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The award recognized JSU for developing a culture of innovation among faculty, staff and students. Its new center was designed to foster an entrepreneurial mindset among underrepresented minorities; infuse intellectual property development; strengthen collaboration between university and industry; and provide a space with resources to advance student learning and faculty instruction.

JSU, competing in the Innovation division, joined other leading institutions throughout North America that submitted initiatives in six different categories. It was a three-month process that included a peer review and online presentations. Then, attendees at the UEDA Annual Summit selected six category leaders for transforming their campuses into engines of economic prosperity. Those categories were (1) Innovation, (2) Talent, (3) Place, (4) Talent + Place; (5) Place + Innovation, and (6) Innovation + Talent.

UEDA said each nomination was judged on the “sustainability, replicability, originality and impact of their programs or initiatives.”

Dr. Almesha L. Campbell is the assistant vice president for JSU’s Division of Research and Economic Development. She said, “We have so many innovative faculty, staff and students, and the Center for Innovation is interconnected to deliver impact.”

After earning the Award of Excellence for Innovation, Dr. Almesha L. Campbell, assistant vice president for JSU’s Division of Research and Economic Development, acknowledged the significant contributions from the other two finalists in their category: Indiana University Bloomington and the University of South Carolina.

Campbell hailed each of the initiatives and said, “It is great to see Jackson State University, however, recognized for this award. We have so many innovative faculty, staff and students, and the Center for Innovation is interconnected to deliver impact. Any program, any discipline can create ways to infuse our activities into their curriculum.”

Furthermore, she said, “In Spring 2020, we will launch a joint initiative with JSU’s Department of Chemistry, Physics and Atmospheric Sciences that would allow its students to engage in VR immersive learning. This would provide a new way of teaching and learning.”

Campbell thanked Georgia Tech University for the nomination and partnership opportunities with Jackson State University.

Tim Hindes, executive director of UEDA, said, “Never before has economic engagement of higher education institutions been more critical to our economic redesign. UEDA’s model of highlighting best practices in economic engagement continues to locate, highlight and recognize those initiatives that best exemplify sustainable models that are making remarkable, positive impacts on regional economic ecosystems across North America.”

Meanwhile, JSU’s Center for Innovation is home to the NSF I-Corps Site program and the NIH-funded EnRICH (Engaging Research and Innovators for Commercialization at HBCUs) health care pre-accelerator for HBCUs. EnRICH pursues equity, diversity and inclusion in innovation and trains faculty and students to critically evaluate the commercial potential of new health care innovations. Also, EnRICH focuses on intellectual property protection and commercialization in an established startup accelerator program. Learn more about the Division of Research and Economic Development.