EDA’s mission is to lead the Federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for economic growth and success in the worldwide economy.
EDA fulfills this mission through strategic investments and partnerships that create the conditions
for economic growth and improved quality of life by expanding the capacity of individuals, firms, and communities to maximize the use of their talents and skills to support innovation, lower transaction costs, and responsibly produce and trade valuable goods and services.
The achievement of economic development potential results in regional economic ecosystems that foster globally competitive regions throughout the United States.
The economic ecosystem is a multifaceted concept that links together a highly networked regional talent pool; innovation infrastructure (including both tangible and non-tangible types); research and science support systems; and a culture of collaboration sustained by institutions focused on advancing mutual gain for the public and the private sector.
Innovation is the key to greater productivity and global competitiveness, resulting in the creation of new and better jobs, a more resilient economy and the attainment of national economic goals.
Regional collaboration is essential for economic recovery and advancement because regions encompass the centers of growth and competition in the new global economy.
Regions achieve greater results because of the presence of diverse economic agents and, more often than not, clusters of services and industry.
Quite simply, regions that work together will fare better than those that do not.
Infusing more innovation and collaboration into America’s regions has the potential to help communities create and retain higher-wage and sustainable jobs, leverage the flow of private capital, and strengthen America’s ability to compete in the global marketplace.
EDA recognizes that institutions of higher education are critical players in the development of vibrant economic ecosystems.
Universities are sources of significant economic development assets—such as faculty, staff, students, research and proof of concept centers, laboratories, and high speed broadband networks—that can support regional economic growth.
In addition, universities create significant knowledge spillovers and possess broader and deeper networks of expertise that can assist innovators and entrepreneurs.
Research also shows that small businesses located in proximity to an institution of higher education tend to be more innovative.
Potential university-based support for economic growth includes the commercialization of research, the conversion of intellectual property and ideas into products and services, and the support of regionally owned strategies that support business expansion and job creation.
Additionally, universities facilitate environments conducive to trade and global exports by providing services for businesses to connect to international markets.
The purpose of EDA’s University Center Economic Development Program (also referred to in this announcement as the University Center program) is to enable institutions of higher education and consortia of institutions of higher education to establish and operate University Centers specifically focused on using university assets to build regional economic ecosystems that support innovation and high-growth entrepreneurship.
University Centers collaborate with other EDA partners by providing expertise and technical assistance to develop, implement and support regional strategies which result in job creation, high-skilled regional talent pools, and business expansion in a region’s innovation clusters .
Expertise and technical assistance may address, for example, applied research centers, technology commercialization, feasibility studies, market research, economic impact analyses training, and other technical assistance to help communities foster vibrant economic ecosystems.
Since FY 2004, EDA has administered the University Center program as a competitive multi year program.
As presented in the table below, EDA holds University Center program competitions in two of its six regional offices each of the following fiscal years.
In FY 2017, EDA is holding the competition in its Atlanta and Seattle Regional Offices.