13th Annual Symposium
Save-the-date: June 12-14, 2024 | College Park, MD

Panel Details

Track A: Developing Entrepreneurial Universities, Culture & Ecosystems

A1Students: On the road to Entrepreneurship

University business courses cover theories of entrepreneurship, but rarely do they provide students with the actual tools they would need to start and grow their own business. With a growing number of entrepreneurs looking to retire or sell their business, the need for practical business curriculum is greater than ever. The Kauffman Foundation’s FastTrac curriculum has been used at universities nationwide to give students hands-on experience building a business plan and exploring a startup idea from concept to launch. While not all student who take the course may go on to be entrepreneurs, the course equips students with an entrepreneurial mindset and the skills needed to help students of today be responsive to the problems of tomorrow.


Jenny Ventura, Kauffman Foundation (1 Million Cups)
Olatunji Ajani , Kauffman Foundation (FastTrac)
Tom Ledbetter , Midlands Technical College
Linda Ufland, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
TBD, Student

A2Five Innovative Initiatives that Bridge the Higher Education Institution/Community Divide to Build More Vibrant and Sustainable Ecosystems

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) can serve as an important entrepreneurial ecosystem anchor—an institution building and maintaining connectivity between entrepreneurs and the multitude of resources they need to start and grow ventures. These resources can include research and technical support, funding opportunities, specialized equipment and spaces, and workforce development. A common challenge, however, is that a divide can open between HEIs and the communities they serve. Barriers to access like communication and organizational silos, specialized language, low or inconsistent engagement, and perceptions of higher education can combine in complex ways that make the community feel unwelcome and HEIs lose connection with what is outside academia. During this interactive session, examples will be provided of innovative strategies to bridge the divide between HEIs and local communities taken at Arizona State University, Boise State University, Moonshot, and University of Arizona. Discussion will include community-led initiatives powered by university resources, unique collaborative problem-solving projects, as well as ecosystem building partnerships. Program design and approaches to outreach will be spotlighted with additional conversation around the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Attendees will learn more about how to build authentic connections, leverage ecosystem resources, as well as implement and iterate practical solutions. Attendees will be encouraged to share their own program design and other best practices during the session. How are you building connectivity across your higher education institution and community? Let’s connect, share about our experiences, and leave with practical tips to apply in your own practice.


Mr. Eric Heimbecker, Community Entrepreneurship
J. Orin Edson, Entrepreneurship+Innovation Institute, Arizona State University

A3Funding Strategies for your Entrepreneurship Initiatives

This session will share strategies for the funding and financial support of your campus and community entrepreneurship initiatives. The panel will address foundation, grant and operational opportunities to raise initial funds and to support ongoing operations. Panelists bring a range of experiences including foundation leadership and grant making, budget oversight and fundraising, as well management of private, state and federal funding sources. Participants will be encouraged to share their own funding challenges to support a discussion of potential solutions.


Dr. Steven Tello, University of Massachusetts-Lowell

A4Collaboration Breeds Innovation: How One Ecosystem Shares Ideas & Resources

Northeast Ohio, a region rich in industrial history, has faced its share of economic challenges in recent decades.  Out of adversity has risen a spirit of collaboration that has drawn together colleges and universities, mentors and funders, ecosystem builders and entrepreneurs all working together to advance ideas and ventures.  This session will focus on longstanding relationships among colleges and universities sharing resources and events for the good of the region and its students.  These relationships provide a solid foundation  for new and promising initiatives, expanding the capacity of the ecosystem to support rising entrepreneurs.  

Panelists will share the dynamics and support systems that have made these efforts possible and allowed for pilot programs to take shape.  The latest pilot is the Tech Credentials Program combining entrepreneurship experiences with opportunities to earn tech credentials, bolstered by mini-scholarships and mentoring.  Three campuses—Cleveland State University, Lorain County Community College, and Baldwin Wallace University—all launched tech credential programs in 2022 tailored to individual cultures and programs, with support from Burton D Morgan Foundation and Entrepreneurship Education Consortium, the region’s evolving collegiate entrepreneurship hub.  

Panelists will share the program’s structure, successes, and lessons learned, with an eye toward providing useful guidance other campuses can adapt. Specific topics will include recruitment, marketing, credential offerings, impact on entrepreneurship programming, diversity of participants, mentoring, career advantages, and results. The information will be shared in the context of ecosystem programming and the manner in which thirteen campuses have banded together to combine forces and connect to regional resources.


Bob Sopko, LaunchNET, Case Western Reserve University (Moderator)
Caite Lenahan, LaunchNET, Baldwin Wallace University
Matthew Poyle, Lorain County Community College
Deborah Hoover, Entrepreneurship Education Consortium Ohio

A5Making Research More Impactful: Supporting Faculty at Undergraduate Institutions in Technology and Entrepreneurship Development

Faculty members at many Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs) engage in fundamental research and meaningfully involve undergraduate students in that work. The products of this research are valuable in myriad ways, including economically; however, PUIs face challenges in funding this work and in realizing its economic potential. For example, in 2021, there were 917 active NSF Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) awards for a total of $252M. However, at the same time, only a handful of PUIs were funded through the Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) division at NSF. There is a clear gap in participation of PUIs in programs that promote innovation and entrepreneurship. The SUITED (Supporting Undergraduate Institutions in Technology and Entrepreneurship Development) Workshop series, funded by NSF, was designed to help address this gap. Part 1 of SUITED was hosted by Union College (virtually) in January, 2023. The 116 participants attended sessions on the role of PUIs in advancing technology and innovation, infrastructure needs for TIP activities, TIP funding opportunities and heard stories from faculty at PUIs who have participated in NSF TIP programs. They also participated in breakout room sessions to identify barriers particular to PUIs, identify TIP infrastructure needs which may be unavailable in PUI settings, and generate ideas for moving forward. This session will review the goals of the SUITED Workshop series, summarize key findings from Part 1, present stories on transferring research from the lab to the marketplace at PUIs and discuss innovative training programs for commercializing basic research discoveries. Panel members are members of the SUITED workshop organizing committee, including PUI faculty members who have been involved in TIP activities. Panel members will engage the audience in discussion of the opportunities and challenges associated with TIP activities at PUIs, and seek feedback on the SUITED Workshop series.


Prof. Ann Anderson, Union College (Schenectady, New York)

A6Fostering Global Entrepreneurial Mindset through Unlimited Mentoring with an Inclusion Theme: An Interactive Panel Discussion and Survey Results

The TiE University Program (tieuniversity.org) is a visionary global initiative that supports the “Developing Entrepreneurial Universities, Culture & Ecosystems” track. The program aims to promote a global culture of entrepreneurship among higher education students and build entrepreneurial intent and attitudes on campus, with a focus on inclusivity, led by TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs – tie.org) to provide education, networking, investing, and mentoring for aspiring entrepreneurs. TiE is a global network of entrepreneurs and professionals dedicated to advancing entrepreneurship, with 58 Chapters in 12 countries. The TiE University initiative has been implemented in over 30 chapters across North America, Europe, and Asia; it has attracted thousands of higher education students, creating a truly global ecosystem for entrepreneurship, and connecting students, mentors, and investors from around the world. The program’s key strategy is the provision of unlimited mentoring, which plays a crucial role in fostering an entrepreneurial mindset among students and is aligned with the theme of inclusion. This panel proposal aims to highlight the significance of unlimited mentoring in developing a global entrepreneurial mindset among higher education students, focusing on innovation and inclusion. The panel will focus on how the TiE University Pitchfest Program is leveraging this approach to create a supportive and empowering environment for students, regardless of their geographical location, to turn their entrepreneurial ideas into successful ventures and to ensure that the opportunities are available to all, irrespective of background or circumstance. The panel will also share the results of a recent entrepreneurial intent and attitudes survey, providing valuable insights into the program’s impact on students.


Ravi Brahmbhatt, Houston Community College System

A7Deshpande Symposium UnPanel Discussion

Join us for a lively discussion on audience-led emerging topics in higher ed innovation and entrepreneurship cultures, ecosystems and programs.  In this “mosh pit” approach to panels, you never know what results will emerge.  But it’s a fair bet they will be lively, entertaining and impactful.  You won’t want to miss it!


Tara Loomis, VentureWell (Moderator)

Track B: Entrepreneurship in the Curriculum

B1Leveraging experiential learning to develop entrepreneurial universities, culture, and ecosystems.

Experience Ventures (EV) is a new consortium of 12 post-secondary institutions across Canada leveraging experiential learning to foster entrepreneurial thinking skills through work ready placements in both national languages. By March of 2023, EV will facilitate over 6,000 placements, developing skills and strengthening connections between ventures and students. Funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Innovative Work-Integrated Learning Initiative, the entrepreneurial thinking placements offered through EV strive to inspire students’ creativity, resiliency, and future vision to help seize their future with the right skill set. For Canada’s startups and social ventures, identifying the right talent mindset is a priority. In this session, representatives from three institutions in the EV network will discuss and reflect on the evolving and emerging needs for entrepreneurial thinking skills and work-ready placements for students in the Canadian economy. Panelists will reflect on the successes and lessons learned in delivering entrepreneurial placements for students at their schools, including engaging students that face barriers to participating in placements. Additionally, the panelists will reflect on their partnerships with local innovation ecosystems through example. EV promotes entrepreneurial thinking across campuses, supporting and promoting innovation within all students. Furthermore, the panelists will share examples and highlight benefits to partnering with their local innovation ecosystems.  Through our panel, we will explore how the schools represented are a part of a nationwide community that centers experiential learning with an entrepreneurial thinking lens. Our panelists will explain the importance of community to connect innovation and entrepreneurship into student experience and to benefit our economy.


Ms. Anica Vasic, University of Calgary

B2It’s Time to Stop Typecasting Asynchronous and AI-assisted Teaching and Learning and Unlocking How They Can Be Better Than In-person

Asynchronous learning has been unfairly typecast as an efficient delivery format for when a lot of people need to view a lot of material, and AI has been unfairly typecast as simply a cheating tool for students. However, given the chance to shine outside those typecast roles, asynchronous and AI-assisted learning can both be surprisingly experiential, engaging, and distinctly better than in-person in some critical ways. We’ll provide examples for how to do that in your courses at your institution and still achieve the same, great learning outcomes but with the added benefit of broadening accessibility to more students.


Dr. Dean Chang, University of Maryland - College Park

B3Offering Entrepreneurial Acceleration to Aspiring Students as an Optional Credit-based Subject for the Progression of Their Innovation-driven Business Ideas Without Sacrificing Academics or Dropping Out

The panel discusses a startup acceleration program integrated with regular academic activity as one of the major subjects of the curriculum for the student teams passionate about innovation-driven entrepreneurship. Many students and teams come up with startup ideas during their higher studies. Most of them are under academic pressure while some of them neglect academics to focus on building the idea into something meaningful. A perception of a lack of synergies between academics and venture creation persists as if they are mutually exclusive. The confusion never ends. Many students have attractive ideas, and they make progress in converting them into early-stage products and building business models. However, given the uncertainty of the outcome of their startup, priorities remain squeezed between academics, venture creation, or dropping out, which constrict their progress. If an academic program is launched whereby acceleration of startup ideas is made part of a regular credit-base course-work students will discover their innovation and entrepreneurial potential while studying to complete their degree. They will make progress in creativity, innovation, and venture creation and will make informed career decisions. Passionate student teams will be offered an acceleration program of two or more semesters as a regular academic subject along with other subjects for accelerating their ideas. Mentors will be invited from alumnae entrepreneurs, angels, venture capitalists, and faculty members. Several other students will engage with these teams as interns or pursue compulsory semester projects. A culture of innovation and entrepreneurship may sweep across the institute. Faculty members are mostly academicians and may not have direct entrepreneurial or business management exposure. While students will receive mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs, angels, and VCs, the involved faculty members will gain hands-on knowledge and will emerge as expert mentors.


Dr. Manoj Kumar Mondal, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur

B4Innovations in Standards Education Programs

Design standards play a central role in the commercialization of inventions and configuration of systems, and thus it is critical to develop engaging ways to incorporate standards into engineering curriculum. This panel discussion brings together representatives from four universities that have developed creative strategies and programs to raise the visibility and value of standards design. The panelists will discuss the various programs and approaches, focusing on a broad range of topics from biomedical to risk prevention management, that have been implemented in their respective universities and share the “strides and stumbles” for each journey. The discussion will also include a Q&A session, providing attendees with an opportunity to ask questions and engage with the panelists. The panel discussion will provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and best practices among the universities, allowing attendees to gain a broader understanding of the use of design standards in engineering education.


Professor Colin Drummond, Case Western Reserve University

B5Interdisciplinary Entrepreneurship, Community Engagement and Social Impact: Strategies for Breaking Down Barriers to Cross–Campus Collaboration and Broadening Student Engagement

To effectively foster student innovation and social impact work on university campuses, a robust ecosystem is needed to eclipse campus silos while strengthening relationships between the university and community partners. Panelists from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, urbanCORE, and College of Engineering will discuss strategies used to develop a cross-campus culture and expand opportunities for students to participate in activities focused on innovation, social impact, and community-engaged learning. The integration of innovation and entrepreneurial mindset into the university’s mission and policies has been at the forefront of our strategic planning. By intentionally developing partnerships that leveraged existing resources, we developed accessible, interdisciplinary programming that broadened participation from students across multiple colleges and a wide range of disciplines. Through the creation of unique credentialing programs, academic courses, and re-imagined capstone experiences, students across the university have a menu of options available, allowing them to layer elements of their choice and customize a pathway that works for them. We will discuss how the pairing of curricular and co-curricular elements was essential for providing on-ramps for students and creating layers of support leading to improved outcomes and development of multiple transferable competencies that can be applied to any career choice. Participants will learn proven methods that lead to effective cross-campus collaboration and broaden the scope of innovative education and work towards a strong, innovative campus community. Panelists: Dr. Jennifer Warner, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Laura Smailes, Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) Dr. Tamara Johnson, UrbanCORE and Engaged Scholarship Meg Harkins, P.E., Lee College of Engineering Moderator: Carrie Bovill, CEI


Ms Laura Smailes, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

B6Experiential Learning – Real Experiences for Entrepreneur Students beyond the classroom

The session will explore the opportunities for students to engage in experiential learning opportunities. These include running a business (Rabbit Robot as an example), internships, class projects with industry, connecting with start-ups. The session will explore the interconnectivity between real-world experience and the classroom curriculum. A number of examples will be used to highlight opportunities and engagement.


Tom Sudow, Ashland University

B7The Role of Graduate Academic Curriculum in Galvanizing a Commercialization Ecosystems.

All graduate students spend hundreds of hours completing course content each semester. Furthermore, universities often serve a diverse set of graduate students in scientific, business, and liberal arts with many of these students having substantial work experience and established networks. However, graduate courses are traditionally viewed as preparing students for their scientific research activity and are thus disconnected from innovation and entrepreneurship co-curricular programming and are seen by many as abstract or less relevant to real-world outcomes outside the lab. In this panel discussion we explore insights into how graduate education can be leveraged to enhance technology commercialization, can become central to university-business ecosystem development, and can enhance practical skill development among graduate students.

Panelists will share their insights on:

  • the development of experiential learning activities for graduate students, faculty, and mentors to enhance academia-industry interactions
  • the use of collaborative research activities that use the university as a living lab to deploy and test innovative technologies
  • the expansion of traditional single institution programs to a global classroom, sharing diverse perspectives
  • We will discuss the benefits (and drawbacks) of different approaches, as well as the institutional challenges that can get in the way of implementation

Andrew is Bergeron Chair in Technology Entrepreneurship and winner of the Academy of Managements Heizer Award for entrepreneurship research. He worked in the Technology Transfer Office at the University of Toronto, where he started the first University incubator in Canada, subsequently completing a PhD in Technology Entrepreneurship at the University of Waterloo. Following two years at Temple University (where he was cross appointed to the Business School and College of Engineering), Andrew returned to Canada as the inaugural chair in Technology Entrepreneurship. His current focus (and research funding) is around the development of a Living Lab at the University, and specifically the use of a novel micro-mobility Electric Vehicle to achieve the Universities Sustainability Goals, and provide research and educational opportunities for our community.

Dr. Robert McNamee has spent the last 20 years researching and practicing innovation & entrepreneurship. Dr. McNamee has mentored thousands of entrepreneurs and executives seeking to launch ventures or innovate in their organizations. Among the entrepreneurs he mentored, one went on to successfully pitch on Shark Tank in 2021 and another was on Forbes 30 under 30 for Social Impact in 2022. Many others have gone on to raise millions for high-growth ventures or are driving change and positive impact across many different industries. From 2010 to 2022, Dr. McNamee was Managing Director of the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute, Academic Director of Innovation & Entrepreneurship Programs, and Assistant Professor at the Fox School of Business, Temple University. In these roles, he championed the creation of the Temple University Entrepreneurship Academy (TUEA) which trained faculty and staff in I&E approaches and funded cross-university I&E programs. He launched multiple GenEd courses on a range of I&E topics as well as the Master of Science in Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Under his leadership, the school experienced significant enrollment growth at both undergraduate and graduate levels. He enhanced the impact and expanded I&E programs and led Temple University to be top 10 ranked for both undergraduate and graduate entrepreneurship programs by the Princeton Review from 2016 to 2018.


Andrew L. Maxwell , York University
Dr. Robert McNamee , Temple University

Track C: University Research Commercialization and Startups

C1Learn How to Create an I&E Hub Without Being an NSF I-Corps Hub

Hear from a group of Pacific and Northwest university directors speak to the benefits and challenges of partnering with like-minded schools to build an I&E network. Panelists will be Magali Eaton, Director, Innovation Training, University of Washington, Director, Mark Billingsley, Director, Alaska Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship, and Trevor Huffmaster, Director, Blackstone LaunchPad, Montana State University. Panel moderator, Karl Mundorff, Executive Director, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Oregon State University will lead an interactive discussion of why these universities are working together, what they are gaining from the relationship and the challenges in performing this level of work with limited funding. Audience participation will be generated by asking the audience for their questions, input on similar efforts, challenges they have faced and where can we all go from here.


Mr. Karl Mundorff, Oregon State University

C2Innovation in Medical Schools

Much attention is focused on the commercialization of medical technologies and life sciences research and how we can accelerate this research from the lab to impact the health system, the economy and society. We have seen incredible advances and benefits from new diagnostics, treatments and therapies driven by research and new technology. However, at its front line, our health systems remain challenged to provide equitable care efficiently and with a high quality patient and caregiver experience, particularly in aging, lower income and remote populations.

Innovation and entrepreneurial skills can empower clinicians to identify, develop and test solutions with a patient centric and systems approach. How can we apply what we have learned in innovation and entrepreneurship to the wider group of medical and health sciences trainees, beyond the hardcore researchers? How can we introduce this additional experience to a training system that is already intensive and demanding?

In this panel discussion, an existing approach and the plans for a new medical school will be described, including the challenges of incorporating this dimension into the programs. The experience of the University of Massachusetts over the past several years will be described. The Toronto Metropolitan University will launch its first medical school class in the fall of 2025. Innovation and entrepreneurship are being incorporated in the design of the undergraduate medical education, drawing from the university’s unique Zone Learning program.

These are very much works in progress. Questions, ideas and contrasting approaches would be welcome in the discussion.


John MacRitchie, Toronto Metropolitan University (Moderator)
Dr. Nathaniel (Nate) Hafer, UMass Chan Center for Clinical & Translational Science
Dr. Prashant Phalpher, Toronto Metropolitan University

C3A New Model for University Research Commercialization: Circle Innovation

The session will be about the Circle Innovation model, which aims to bring together academia and start-ups to commercialize technologies. Dr. Sylvain Moreno will moderate the panel discussion and facilitate a conversation focused on the following topics: 1) University inventions are a fundamental way of transmitting knowledge into the economy and comprehending the intricacies by which transmission occurs is paramount to understand technology commercialization and economic growth. Also understanding how regional factors affect the ability to commercialize has the potential to inform interventions aimed at increasing commercialization of university research findings among start-ups. 2) To that end, the Circle Innovation Model founded by Dr. Sylvain Moreno of Simon Fraser University provides assistance for start-ups who seek to launch innovative products, leading to faster product commercialization, job creation, student training and greater economic development. The model can break silos with its ecosystem of academics, and technology providers and help start-ups access vetted product development partners that can quickly address the commercialization problems they face. 3) The most prominent issues encountered by the model are (a) solving complex technical challenges, and (b) validating product-market fit. The CI model reduces the new technology development timeline by improving start-ups’ access to existing R&D assets in institutions, including higher education and government, as well as to knowledge bases and talent pools across Canada. Circle plugs in timely expertise from its network to develop multi-stakeholders’ projects, then, project manages each project during its execution and tracks outcomes after project completion. 4) The Simon Fraser University’s Circle Innovation model aims to also enhance technology mobilization for Indigenous led organizations, which can benefit from the university’s network of experts, creating a more robust and inclusive ecosystem.


Dr. Sylvain Moreno, Simon Fraser University

C4Best Practices of Top-Ranked University Accelerators

Learn tips & tricks from top-ranked university accelerators, including Stanford, Berkeley, and Babson. Topics will include how these classes source student ideas, employ mentors, organize Demo Days, and attract early-stage investors. And how their curriculum is organized over the course of the semester. Moderated by Doug Villhard, Academic Director for Entrepreneurship and Professor of Practice at Washington University in St. Louis’ Olin Business School. Doug also teaches WashU’s Hatchery (pitch competition) and League (accelerator) courses. WashU Olin is ranked Top 10 in entrepreneurship now in Poets & Quants #1, Bloomberg Newsweek #3, and Princeton Review and Entrepreneur Magazine #6.


Mr. Doug Villhard, Washington University in St Louis

C5Barriers to Participation in University Commercialization

There are many different factors that play into whether or not a faculty member or graduate student engages in commercializing their research. There has been a significant amount of research devoted to demographic differences and how this intersects with participation. However, the research results are quite mixed. This panel could discuss where and why the research results vary and well as results that are consistent across contexts.


Mr. Jonathan Fay, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

C6Increasing the success potential of promising university startup companies

The NSF and NIH I-Corps programs have been in existence for 12 years and graduated over 3000 university teams, many of which have progressed to startups. Yet there is no structure to reward exceptional teams post I-Corps. I-Corps alone cannot provide the sufficient guidance for its potential startups. This panel will discuss the creation of a Post-I-Corps Program modeled on the top academic and private sector accelerators, dedicated exclusively to I-Corps graduates. It will be importantly noted that, deep technologists who endure this entrepreneurship process through to launching and running an entity, even if it is unsuccessful, experience full employment. They become transformed and enter the workforce in leadership roles instead of entry level. The core hypothesis that will be debated on this panel is whether a new, non-equity-bearing deep technology accelerator program designed specifically for the top tier of I-Corps graduates will significantly increase the number of successful university startup companies and enable deep technology workforce transformation. —– REFERENCES: (i) Marrus, S.K., Blaho, J.A. Increasing the success potential of promising biotech companies. Nat Biotechnol 41, 154–155 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41587-022-01627-1 (ii) Behind the Paper – Opinion commentary – https://microbiologycommunity.nature.com/posts/increasing-the-success-potential-of-promising-biotech-companies


Dr. John Blaho, CUNY City College

C7Is University Patenting Accelerating Innovation or Harmful Rent Seeking? Let’s debate these and other topics related to what roles universities should and shouldn’t play!

The Bayh-Dole act has often been heralded as the catalyst for universities to patent inventions made using federal research dollars and for ushering in today’s wave of innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education. After 40 years, it is time to take a step back, re-examine the logic of the Bayh-Dole act and ask if the policy is really working and fostering innovation or has become a barrier to innovation. This panel seeks to provide experiences, stories, and data in the format of a fun, no holds barred debate about this topic as well as others related to what roles universities should and shouldn’t play in economic development.


Mr. Jonathan Fay, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Track D: Emerging Trends

D1Redefining Innovation: Diversity as a Critical Driver for Thriving Entrepreneurship Ecosystems

Kauffman’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Building Playbook 3.0 (2019) strongly positions “diversity as a critical driver of innovation.” However, the classic definition and measurement of entrepreneurship and innovation often categorically exclude ideas and founders from the margins. In this session, the panelists will showcase the institution’s role in advancing the translation of diverse lived experiences from idea to exit, accelerating the adoption of inclusive ecosystem building, and bolstering the impact of a redefined view of innovation on entrepreneurial policy.


Dr. LaTanya White, Concept Creative Group LLC

D2Spanning the Boundary from Ph.D. to Science-Based Entrepreneur

Doctoral graduates, whether in industry or academia, have tremendous potential to contribute to and lead science-based innovation to address pressing societal challenges. How best to catalyze the unlocking of this potential by developing entrepreneurial mindset and capabilities is a continuing challenge. Influencers – boundary-spanning faculty and doctoral graduates crossing between the conventional academic research enterprise and entrepreneurship, play a key role in catalyzing idea mobilization and developing entrepreneurial capacity in scientist communities. Boundary spanners build awareness and signal legitimacy, which can be pivotal in encouraging faculty and doctoral graduates to become scientist entrepreneurs, whether as venture founders, translational scientists, or industry champions of innovation. In this panel, we will share experiences and insights from recent commercialization postdoc research, commercialization postdoc programs, and faculty innovation fellow initiatives to develop the next generation of boundary-spanning scientist-entrepreneurs and innovation and entrepreneurship leaders in higher education. The panel discussion will touch on the growing concern about impactful career paths for doctoral graduates, and while the emphasis will be on science-based entrepreneurship, we will also share broader reflections on how to span the boundary from Ph.D. to changemaker and entrepreneur for Ph.D.s in any discipline.


James McLellan, Ph.D., Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, Queen’s University (Moderator)
Sarah Lubik, Ph.D., Simon Fraser University
Paula Wood-Adams, Ph.D, Concordia University

D3Identifying, Supporting and Retaining Women Academic Entrepreneurs

Everyone is talking about equity in venture funding – with more discussion about funding and support for women and people of color. However, the actual trends for women founders is dismal, and not improving. Princeton University and Yale University are implementing programs with an eye to improving the flow of funds to strong female academic founders. We will outline some of the programs that we have established to support women academic founders and to connect them to funding. Some examples are Princeton’s Empower 2023 conference which celebrated women academic entrepreneurship, a joint Yale/Princeton virtual “Innovators Ignite” spotlight event and Yale’s amplifyHERscience program. The Empower conference includes roundtable discussions about best practices and to discuss practical suggestions for improving the flow of funding; Innovators Ignite brought two strong networks of investors and potential partners together to increase the visibility of underrepresented innovators from both institutes as they presented their emerging technologies. Finally, at Yale, the amplifyHERscience program is designed to identify, encourage and retain underrepresented minorities involvement in entrepreneurship, while also connecting with other academic institutions through a series of Spotlight “Pitching” events. This panel will be a presentation of some of the programs that we have implemented on our campuses but will also be an interactive discussion about what others are doing to prepare their women academic entrepreneurs and to close the funding gap. Our goal will also be to recruit other members to the panel from institutes with active programs in their area (eg Wash U and MIT) to compare and identify best practices which can be shared with other institutes.


Dr. Morag Grassie, Yale University

D4Embedding Innovative Thinking in Academic Institutions through Experiential Learning

Entrepreneurial universities play a critical role in catalyzing the culture of innovation in developing and developed countries in different ways. They spark creativity through research and new knowledge, nurture new thinking by challenging young minds to experiment and create a repository of intellectual capital. Our panel will highlight contrasting case studies of contemporaneous journeys of GDC and UNB in making significant contributions by seeding innovative thinking in the university ecosystems in India and Canada respectively. We will explore challenges faced by GDC and UNB in developing Entrepreneurial Universities, common principles underlying the design of our programs and the emerging opportunities through local and trans-local partnerships. We will: 1. Highlight the different challenges of Canada and India in socio-economic development and education. 2. Discuss the current state of entrepreneurial thinking in universities and identify the challenges faced in developing innovation ecosystems to create socio-economic impact 3. Draw best practices and success stories from our respective journeys 4. Highlight new opportunities to address global challenges through partnerships between colleges in North America and India that enable closer ties. GDC fills a key gap in the Indian innovation ecosystem. With I-NCUBATE, GDC aims to galvanize the government to create a national entrepreneurship training program. GDC builds capacity in incubators and 3rd/4th tier colleges. GDC embeds customer development process in universities to create copybook “lab to market” outcomes. The J Herbert Smith Centre is an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of New Brunswick. JHSC plays a provincial and regional role with national/international impact on incubation, acceleration, and scale of technology startups.JHSC works on entrepreneurship projects in Canada, India, Africa and Europe in Engg & Comp Science.


Raghuttama Rao, IIT Madras

D5What makes a diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem and how can inclusive communities bring meaningful value?

Entrepreneurial ecosystems are developed by a set of people, organizations, culture and values. In this interactive panel discussion, you will learn about the different roles everyone plays in developing an inclusive and growing entrepreneurial ecosystem. A diverse group of leaders will share problems they have identified in developing entrepreneurial ecosystems, what lessons they have learned from first-hand experience as well as provide tangible examples that have led to successful outcomes.


Mrs. Carrie Murphy, Venture For America

D6MIT VMS: A Model for Mentoring Entrepreneurs

Building an effective, sustainable business mentoring program can be a high-impact intervention for higher education institutions striving to support entrepreneurship — harnessing volunteer mentors’ knowledge and expertise to develop mentees’ entrepreneurial skills, support innovation, and increase the probability of venture success. 

The MIT Venture Mentoring Service is widely recognized for its leadership and excellence in entrepreneurship mentoring. This panel will explore the core tenets of the MIT VMS Team Mentoring Model, and present three concrete case histories of adoption of the Model by higher education institutions.

MIT VMS currently has 200 volunteer mentors, serving over 300 ventures. MIT VMS-mentored companies have raised over 9 billion dollars in financing, 400+ new companies have been successfully launched and over 70 have had successful liquidity events. Collectively, mentors dedicate over 12,000 volunteer hours each year, and mentees place a high value on the service they receive. It has also made part of its mission the dissemination of the Model to other institutions, having trained 120 organizations from 27 countries and 28 US states to date. 

The MIT VMS panelist will discuss the key pillars of the Model — a unique Team Mentoring methodology; a strict code of ethics to assure trusted, conflict-free and confidential advice; best practices for recruiting, training, and retaining highly qualified and committed volunteer mentors; a focus on the entrepreneur as well as the venture; and formal operational processes. The panelists from the University of Arizona, Texas Tech University and the University of Texas at Austin will describe how they have implemented the Model and applied it to their respective contexts.


Jim Freedman, MIT Venture Mentoring Service (VMS) (Moderator)
Aileen Dingus, The University Of Arizona
Weston Waldo, University of Texas at Austin
Taysha Williams, Texas Tech University

D7The Meaning of 12: Ponderings from the 12th Annual Deshpande Symposium Steering Committee

As we finish up our 12th Deshpande Symposium, we will take the time to ponder the truly meaningful questions facing us all.  For instance, why are there 12 eggs in a carton?  Why is 11 lucky on roll-out but 12 is craps?  Why are there 12 ribs on an average human?  Why are there 12 inches in a foot?  Have each of the past Deshpande Symposia been one of the 12 gates leading to “another world”…and this 12th gate will be a doozy?

Join us to share your insights with colleagues on what you’ve gained from this year’s Symposium, argue with Jim McLellan from Queen’s University that the 13th gate opens up into Canada (most likely somewhere in Ontario) and plan for potential collaborations around next year’s Symposium.  We can guarantee it will be well worth your time!  


Tom O’Donnell, Umass Lowell