University-Based Economic Development

Understanding the University's Role

Universities are becoming important players in 21st century economic development. The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the University Economic Development Association (UEDA) are invested in helping higher education define its role in economic development and engagement with constituencies. APLU and UEDA created a framework that presents a taxonomy of programs intended to assist institutions and their partners in identifying economic development contributions and understanding how discreet programs connect to a larger vision.

The University of Virginia uses this framework to illustrate existing programs that contribute to Virginia's economy, packaging them within the broader categories of talent, innovation, and place. Explore the elements of these categories and some of UVA's contributions within them.


Talent development includes the spectrum of knowledge transfer activities by which universities educate people, developing human capital for the 21st century Knowledge Economy. For UVA, talent development programs span all levels of education to include K12 and executive level outreach in addition to traditional degree programs.

  • The Curry School's Saturday Enrichment Program, a recent Coding Bootcamp, and the University's efforts in digital literacy all contribute to enhancing K12 education in Virginia.
  • An array of certificates, professional development opportunities, executive format degree programs, and satellite facilities enable working professionals to advance their careers and align with industry demands.
  • Creative, experiential, discovery-based internships and externships elevate the student experience within traditional degree programs that build 21st century skills and refine critical thinking, communication, and leadership.


Innovation begins with basic research, but then builds on knowledge creation to encompass knowledge transfer and application in ways that are useful and relevant to society. Innovation is a key element of many initiatives across UVA, including school-based and community-facing programs, proof-of-concept funds, and startups.

  • UVA offers an Entrepreneurship Minor and an Entrepreneurship Cup (E-Cup) to prepare students for roles as founders, investors, policy makers, technologists, and executives who will positively impact the world.
  • Multiple proof-of-concept programs provide funding to support translational research projects and collaborations. A number of seed funds create opportunities for discovery of new ideas and commercialization of products.
  • UVA supports startups through programs like the i.Lab, an incubator open to UVA students and the larger community.


Place is defined as the many and diverse ways in which institutions contribute to making attractive, competitive communities - places where people want to live; create and take jobs; raise their families; participate in civic life; and age and retire. UVA is a major component of Central Virginia's appeal and actively engages in stewardship of a vibrant community.

  • The University offers community activities through athletic events, the Virginia Film Festival, exhibitions at University art museums, and more. Preview UVA's impact on our community with this video produced by UVA and this video produced by Albemarle County Economic Development.
Creating Ripe Conditions for a Robust Economy

See a diagram of our programs within talent, innovation, and place as well as intersections between these categories that create ripe conditions for a robust economy in Virginia. This diagram is not a comprehensive list of these programs, but a representation of some pertinent examples.