Nebraska Innovation Campus Named Outstanding Research Park at AURP 27th Annual Awards of Excellence 

AURP’s 2023 Awards of Excellence held at its International Conference (Oct. 16-19) at the University of Delaware STAR Campus 

Tucson, AZ, October 19, 2023 – The Nebraska Innovation Campus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has been named the 2023 “Outstanding Research Park” at the Association of University Research Parks’ (AURP) 2023 International Conference (Oct. 16-19) at the University of Delaware’s STAR Campus. AURP is the leading nonprofit organization representing research parks, innovation districts, tech hubs and all communities of innovation.   

“We are deeply honored AURP selected Nebraska Innovation Campus for this distinguished award,” said Kate Engel, NIC’s interim executive director. “NIC’s exceptional ecosystem is driven by 10+ years of impactful partnerships, collaborations and developments. We are grateful to all that have been involved, and those who continue to support and encourage our robust environment for innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialization activities.” 

AURP’s International Conference annually brings together 200+ research park and innovation district leaders from around the world for high-impact knowledge exchange and networking with the industry’s premier experts and leaders.

“On behalf of our dynamic and growing AURP membership, I’m delighted to extend my sincere congratulations to our 2023 Awards of Excellence winners,” said Erin Koshut, AURP President and Executive Director, Cummings Research Park. “Research parks, such as Nebraska Innovation Campus, exemplify our forward-looking global community of innovation, dedicated to research, collaboration and entrepreneurship for the common good.”

AURP Awards Chair, Harry Brislin IV, Executive Director, USA Technology & Research Park, served as emcee and host of the evening’s festivities.

The Outstanding Research Park Award recognizes research parks and innovation districts and their leadership for their achievements and encourages continuous evaluation and development of best practices for the research park community.

The AURP 2023 Outstanding Research Park Award recipient is Nebraska Innovation Campus (NIC). Nebraska Innovation Campus (NIC) connects the talents of experts, companies and the university to create a unique culture of innovation. Located in Lincoln, Neb., NIC facilitates new and in-depth partnerships between the University of Nebraska and private sector businesses. NIC is adjacent to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and strategically provides access to research faculty, facilities and students. NIC facilities have grown over 10+ years to include office space, a makerspace, a conference center, a local coffee shop, a hotel, lab space, pilot plant space and greenhouse space. 

The campus is also home to an ever-growing roster of over 65 companies that includes private businesses and University of Nebraska entities and welcomes companies of all sizes. The diverse mix of companies located on the campus creates and builds a culture of innovation and creativity.

“Congratulations to all of our 2023 Awards of Excellence honorees, especially the Nebraska Innovation Campus,” said Vickie Palmer, CEO of AURP. “Our 2023 awards recipients and their teams show timeless characteristics of perseverance, grit and integrity with a laser focus on fostering new discoveries. Their leadership and knowledge are absolutely vital to the work of building new communities, new places, where people can thrive personally and professionally – leveraging the power of research parks, innovation districts and tech hubs.”

Additional awards categories and recipients are:

AURP’s Leadership Award is given in recognition of a business, university or governmental leader who has made an outstanding contribution to the success and total community impact of a university research and technology park.

The AURP 2023 Leadership Award recipient is Randy Woodson, PhD, Chancellor, North Carolina State University: Since becoming NC State’s 14th chancellor in 2010, Chancellor Woodson’s leadership has resulted in significant advancements. NC State’s Centennial Campus is now home to more than 70 industry and government organizations that work alongside an equal number of academic departments and centers. Over the last five years, these partners have hired more than 2,000 NC State students and invested $120 million in university research. Key recruitments during Woodson’s tenure include Eastman Chemical Company, the National Security Agency and Under Armour.

AURP’s Emerging Research Park Award recognizes research parks or innovation districts which have been operational for 10 or fewer years, creating an exceptional ecosystem which supports bringing technology from inception to market thereby positively impacting the sustainable growth of scalable businesses and high-wage job creation in their region.

The AURP 2023 Emerging Research Park Award recipient is Wichita State University Innovation Campus: Wichita State University Innovation Campus, in 2012, sought to re-envision an underutilized section neighboring their University campus and within five years transformed over 120 acres into a bustling Innovation Campus housing 50 companies aligned with the University’s mission and vision statements. Since then, Wichita State University Innovation Campus has been named finalist for the UEDA Engaged University Award of Excellence in 2022 and later selected as a winner of the EDA Build Back Better Regional Challenge.

AURP’s Career Achievement Award recognizes an individual who has made their research community a central focus of their career, who has achieved outstanding successes over a substantial period of time, and who has received peer recognition for advancing the concept of university research parks and innovation districts.

The AURP 2023 Career Achievement Award recipient is Jane Shaab, UM BioPark Executive Director, Associate Vice President, Economic Development: Shaab – a tireless advocate and ambassador for the city of Baltimore and also AURP in her previous role on the AURP Board of Directors – has dedicated herself to building the Baltimore region’s life sciences, technology and research industries, encouraging their growth for decades into becoming the city’s largest cluster of life sciences companies. In her leadership roles with UM BioPark, Shaab has helped revitalize 14 acres of years-vacant downtown commercial property in Baltimore, generating over $600 million dollars in capital investment to realize development of a 470,000 square foot world-class biomedical research center. 

AURP’s Innovation Award is given each year to the business or nonprofit institution located in a research park that has brought forward one or more proprietary products, processes or services which represent a substantial technology breakthrough or have potential for a significant positive impact on the economic, health or welfare status of a broad spectrum of humanity.

The AURP 2023 Innovation Award recipient is BULB - Building an Understanding of Lab Basics - at University City Science Center: BULB is a free five-week training program that connects Philadelphians to STEM training and jobs in Philadelphia's growing life sciences industry. Created in 2020, BULB helps to develop a workforce that fits the needs of the region's companies, strengthening the STEM talent pipeline while benefiting the overall community. As part of this, BULB gives Philadelphia area residents an education on basic lab safety and protocols, concepts of gene and cell therapy and financial literacy in a combined program, while helping participants obtain apprenticeships and new careers in the region's life sciences sector.

AURP’s Vision Award recognizes an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to the AURP network – and to the innovation ecosystem.

The AURP 2023 Vision Award recipient is Daisy Magnus-Aryitey, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of Code the Dream at Research Triangle Park (NC): Magnus-Aryitey has worked to bring coding and technology to underserved communities in the RTP region. By exposing a diverse community to skills necessary to obtain sustainable employment in these fields through their free services and education, Magnus-Aryitey and Code the Dream are helping connect immigrants, low-income individuals, people of color and other marginalized communities to living wages by working with industry leaders to design and build curriculum that prepares students for software development positions at top companies.

AURP’s Rising Star Award: A New Generation of Innovation Leadership recognizes an individual exhibiting significant contributions to the development and success of communities of innovation.

The AURP 2023 Rising Star Award recipient is Jonathan Hunt, Ecosystem Partnerships Manager with McMaster Innovation Park: Hunt has worked tirelessly to build bridges with other ecosystem leaders, government officials and strategic partners to unite the greater Toronto region around a common goal of making McMaster Innovation Park and Hamilton, Ontario, Canada a world leader in health and life science innovation. Hunt also was an instrumental leader in planning the AURP 2022 International Conference in Toronto, plus continues to serve as a driving force behind the Canadian park peer network.

About AURP:
AURP, a non-profit international organization with offices in the Washington, DC area at the University of Maryland Discovery District and in Tucson, AZ at the University of Arizona Tech Park, focuses on creating communities of innovation and education for research parks both operating and planned, plus innovation districts, incubators, accelerators and the businesses that support the research park industry. AURP and its global membership promote research, institute-industry relations and innovation districts to foster innovation and to facilitate the transfer of technology from such institutions to the private sector. Learn more:

Media Contact:
Ken Berlack
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