UC Davis Recognized for Innovation and Economic Prosperity

Aggie Square under construction in Sacramento
Aggie Square, as seen in 2023. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

UC Davis has again been recognized for its significant contributions to innovation, economic growth and community engagement by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, or APLU.

The APLU recently extended UC Davis’ Innovation and Economic Prosperity designation for another five years, acknowledging the university's ongoing commitment to regional economic development and prosperity. UC Davis is one of only 91 out of 248 APLU member institutions nationwide to receive the prestigious designation.

"At UC Davis, we understand that our mission includes being a catalyst for progress,” said Mabel Salon, chief government and community relations officer. “We are proud to have our commitment to economic development and community engagement recognized with the IEP extension. This designation underscores our dedication to collaborating with our communities, government partners and industry stakeholders for the greater good."

A recent economic impact report shows that UC Davis is a major economic driver for California, generating $12.56 billion in statewide economic activity and supporting 68,900 jobs in 2019. Every dollar that UC Davis spends in California generates an additional $1.10 of economic activity in the state. Additionally, for every UC Davis job, the university’s economic activity led to the creation of another non-UC Davis job in California.

"UC Davis’ extension of the Innovation and Economic Prosperity designation reaffirms our unwavering commitment to driving positive change in our communities,” said Michael Rios, vice provost of public scholarship. “We are dedicated to fostering innovation, economic growth, and meaningful engagement that makes a lasting impact. This extension is a testament to our ongoing efforts to strengthen our region and empower its residents."

UC Davis initially received the IEP designation in 2016, making it one of the early recipients of this honor. In its extension application, UC Davis highlighted the university’s work to build a supportive culture and regional ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship, including:

Aggie Square

In 2017, UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg launched a collaborative effort to establish Aggie Square, a new technology and innovation campus. Construction started in June 2022.

Anchor Institution Mission for Community Health

In 2020, UC Davis Health launched the Anchor Institution Mission for Community Health, or AIM, focusing on leveraging its economic influence and resources to enhance the economic vitality of the surrounding communities. The AIM Communities now include 10 geographic areas around UC Davis Health.

Chief Innovation and Economic Development Officer

UC Davis successfully completed a nationwide recruitment effort for a Chief Innovation and Economic Development Officer. This role will play a crucial part in advancing contributions from university research, teaching, health care, industry and the community to boost innovation, economic development and community engagement opportunities across the region.

Additional APLU honors

UC Davis was the only member university to earn the 2020 Platinum Institutional Award for Global Learning, Research and Engagement from APLU. As the highest honor from APLU’s Commission on International Initiatives, the award recognized UC Davis’ institutional achievement in developing and implementing comprehensive and inclusive strategies across global learning, research and engagement.

In 2021, APLU honored UC Davis for its response through Healthy Davis Together to the coronavirus pandemic. UC Davis joined one other institution, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as the inaugural winners of the APLU Research Response to a Community in Crisis Award.

May served as chair of the APLU Board of Directors from 2022-2023. In his role, he focused on improving opportunities for student access and success, interdisciplinary research, economic development and public engagement across all APLU member institutions.

The UC Davis Public Impact Research Initiative, a grant program that helps faculty launch equitable community partnerships, was featured as a case study in the 2023 APLU report, “Modernizing Scholarship for the Public Good: An Action Framework for Public Research Universities.”

Media Resources

Becky Oskin is director of communications and marketing for the Office of Public Scholarship and Engagement, and can be reached by email.

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