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Publications & Reports

U-I Engagement Outside Major Metro Areas

Identifying Xurban Engagement Barriers and Finding Solutions

Relationships between universities and industry partners in metropolitan areas are stellar examples of robust innovation ecosystems that foster collaboration and accelerate innovation. Numerous research-intensive universities are located outside metropolitan areas, however, and many struggle to create equivalent ecosystems with their industry partners. Engagement between these institutions and industry is of equal importance as their metropolitan counterparts, as their economic, educational, and social impacts in local communities and states are especially pronounced.

The Toolkit for Action: U-I Engagement Outside Major Metro Areas was created to assist universities that seek to strengthen ties with industry while catalyzing innovation ecosystems that support these communities. It includes the workshop report and focused tools for each issue area. Please download and share these free resources.

UIDP seeks to make this toolkit an ever-green resource, adding elements as new issues and solutions are identified. Each tool outlines features, takeaways for success, and resources required to implement solutions pertaining to a specific topic. The initial tools were created as a result of the May 2019 workshop that was hosted by the University of Arkansas, “University-Industry Engagement Outside Major Metropolitan Areas and Megacities: Identifying Issues and Finding Solutions.”

Two new tools, “Multiplier Effects: Designing Transformational University-Industry Collaborative Centers” and “Inclusive Recognition of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Impact by Faculty,” were added in conjunction with the June 2022 UIDP Xurban workshop held at Cornell University.

Toolkit for Action: U-I Engagement Outside Major Metro Areas

Inclusive Recognition of Innovation and
Entrepreneurship Impact by Faculty
Rich Carter, Professor of Chemistry and Faculty Lead for Innovation Excellence, Oregon State University
Multiplier Effects: Designing Transformational University-Industry Collaborative CentersPatricia Bou, Principal, Education Practice Co-Director CannonDesign;
Chris Lambert, SVP, Strategy Consulting Co-Lead; Blue Cottage of CannonDesign
Report | NSF Workshop on University-Industry Engagement Outside Major Metropolitan Areas And Megacities: Identifying Issues And Finding SolutionsCynthia Sides, University of Arkansas; Julie Moody, University of Arkansas; and Julie Preddy, University of Arkansas
Catalyzing University-Industry Collaborations Through Strategic Facility Construction and DesignPatricia Bou, Principal,
CannonDesign; and
Stephen Blair, Director, Science & Technology Practice, CannonDesign
Communication StrategiesLaura Schoppe, President and Founder, Fuentek
Entrepreneurship and University Start-UpsJavier Reyes, Vice President for Start-up West Virginia; and John Chambers, College of Business and Economics, Dean, West Virginia University
Industry Visits to Universities Outside Major MetrosJackie Serviss, Manager, Corporate Research Partnerships, University of Waterloo
Maximizing Impact in the Face of Resource ScarcityJim Baker, Associate Vice President for Research Administration, Michigan Technological University, and Terri Goss Kinzy, Vice President for Research, Western Michigan University
Promotion of Local Economic DevelopmentJoe Shields, Vice President for Research and Creative Activity, Ohio University
Structuring to Maximize External EngagementJeff Fortin, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Research, Director, Office of Industrial Partnerships, Pennsylvania State University
The Rise of the Rest: Creating Vibrant Innovation Ecosystems Outside of Major Metro Areas Through Research Parks and Innovation DistrictsBrian Darmody, Chief Executive Officer, Association of University Research Parks (AURP), and Laura Frerichs, Research Park Director and Director of Economic Development, University of Illinois
Using Research Data to Enhance University-Industry CollaborationsDaniel Calto, Director of Solution Services, Elsevier
Xurban Cornell 2022 ReportSummaries of presentations from the UIDP event at Cornell University


On May 21-23, 2019, in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the University of Arkansas and UIDP convened 121 university, industry, and government corporate engagement and economic development practitioners for a workshop to identify best practices and solutions related to six major challenge areas for universities in non-metro areas:

  • leveraging and enhancing university research strengths
  • managing strategic partnerships
  • accelerating university research translation and commercialization
  • talent connections
  • placemaking, and
  • advancing local economic development.

Access Arkansas workshop presentation materials here.

The workshop, a report of proceedings, and elements for this toolkit were funded by Award #1748686 from the National Science Foundation to the University of Arkansas, with UIDP as subgrantee.