Newswise — New Orleans, La.— University research parks, innovation leaders and companies were recognized for excellence in innovation by the Association of University Research Parks (AURP) at the 2011 International Conference in New Orleans. AURP presented their 2011 Annual Awards of Excellence naming the Research Park at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign the 2011 Outstanding Research Park. The awards were presented at the AURP 2011 International Conference in New Orleans, December 1st.

The 16th Annual AURP Awards of Excellence recognize the achievements of outstanding research parks and industry veterans and encourages the development of best practices among research and science parks.

"AURP recognizes exceptional leadership in innovation by honoring university research parks, individuals and companies who are driving innovation in their communities," said AURP President Harold Strong. "Among this year's AURP Awards of Excellence recipients, we are proud to name the Research Park at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign the 2011 AURP Outstanding Research Park."

The Outstanding Research/Science Park Achievement Award recognizes parks that excel in bringing technology from the laboratory to economically viable business activities, thus promoting the growth of businesses, jobs and public revenue.

The Research Park at the University of Illinois provides an environment where technology-based businesses can work with faculty and students to take advantage of opportunities for collaborative research and easy access to University labs, equipment and services. Located on campus, the Research Park is now home to more than 90 companies and growing, employing more than 1,400 people in high-technology careers. Publicly traded firms in the Research Park include: ADM, Abbott Laboratories, Caterpillar, Deere & Company, Littelfuse, Riverbed, SAIC, Sony, State Farm, and Yahoo. The Research Park is also home to more than 50 startup companies that are commercializing technology.

Celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year, the Purdue Research Park was presented with AURP's Creating the Culture of Innovation Award. Dedicated to improving their community through high-tech economic development, job creation and improved quality of life, the Purdue Research Park network has had a significant impact on the state with four locations across Indiana and 200 companies that employ more than 4,000 people. Employees working in the park network earn an average annual wage of $63,000, which is 65 percent greater than the Indiana average and 45 percent greater than the national average. An independent study recently reported that Purdue Research Park contributes $1.3 billion annually to Indiana’s economy.

The 2011 Emerging Research/Science Park was presented to The City of Agrifood, Veterinary and Agroenvironment Biotechnology in Saint-Hyacinthe in Quebec, Canada. The City of Agrifood, Veterinary and Agroenvironment Biotechnology in Saint-Hyacinthe is one of the first science parks in North America that works exclusively in the biofood industry. Its development is centered on two great institutions of research and higher education: the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Université de Montréal and the Food Research and Development Centre. It also relies on three business incubators and the expertise of 22 chairs and research centres, as well as 17 support organizations, all connected to the agrifood industry. More than $600 million has been invested by both public and private sources, thus creating some 580 direct jobs, which represents one of the highest development rates among high-tech science parks of its kind in Canada.

The Innovation Award was presented to TEAM Technologies, Inc. from Albuquerque, New Mexico for the commercialization of the Stingray, a device that shoots a thin blade of water capable of penetrating steel and disabling improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The Stingray, a technology based on a license from Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), is a dramatic improvement in water disruption tool technology, and it is already being used in warzones by the military against devices placed where they can kill or maim troops. The company manufactured and shipped over 8,000 of the life-saving units to Afghanistan. TEAM credits their location in the Sandia Science & Technology Park (SS&TP) with helping the company to grow and with bringing their collaborations with SNL to fruition.

The 2011 AURP Career Achievement Award goes to Dr. Nancy E. Kossan, Assistant Vice Chancellor – Real Estate and Executive Director of the University of California, San Diego Science Research Park at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), where she is responsible for real property acquisitions and divestitures, ground leasing and development, on- and off-campus leases, licenses, easements, and asset management for UCSD’s primarily non-academic real estate portfolio, including its thirty acre Science Research Park. Prior to joining UCSD, Dr. Kossan was Vice President of Harvard Real Estate, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Harvard University that developed and managed Harvard’s non-academic real estate. Dr. Kossan has provided leadership for the association, serving two terms on the AURP Board of Directors.

The Excalibur Award was presented to Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas. AURP recognizes Senator Pryor for his support of university research parks in the United States. AURP would like to thank Senator Pryor who tirelessly championed the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act. Senator Pryor was instrumental in making sure that science park support was included within the legislation, so vital to America's future innovation.

The Leadership Award was presented to the Honorable Dave Heineman, Governor of the State of Nebraska. At a time when every state is facing fiscal challenges, Governor Heineman introduced a comprehensive package of proposals designed to reposition Nebraska to better compete in the innovation economy. Based upon a series of recommendations derived from a comprehensive statewide study assisted by the Battelle Institute, the Talent and Innovation Initiative (TI2), adopted by the Nebraska Legislature in a series of unanimous votes, committed the State to $42 million over the next two years in support of development of the Nebraska Innovation Campus (NIC) at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and creation of a sweeping set of new economic development programs. Governor Heineman played the key role in passage of TI2, tirelessly explaining the need for new investments in the state’s future at a time of economic uncertainty.

Two outgoing board members received Appreciation Awards including Brian Darmody of the University of Maryland and Teresa McKnight of Montana State University Research Park. Harold Strong of the Discovery Park at the University of North Texas received the Presidential Award for his service as AURP President.

AURP elected their 2011 Board of Directors naming Kevin Byrne of the University Financing Foundation, President of the AURP Board of Directors. Newly elected Board Members include Charles F. D’Agostino of Lousiana State University and Robert T. Geolas of the Research Triangle Park

About AURP: The Association of University Research Parks is a professional association of university related research and science parks. AURP’s mission is to foster innovation, commercialization and economic growth through university, industry and government partnerships. For more information, visit AURP’s Web site at or contact Chelsea Simpson at [email protected].