12th Annual Symposium
June 5-7, 2023 | Phoenix, AZ

Panel Details

Track A: Developing Entrepreneurial Universities, Culture & Ecosystems

A1Collective Action: Galvanizing Regional Resources to Spur Entrepreneurial Growth

The benefits entrepreneurs, industry, communities, and regional economies derive from the intentional connectivity of university assets, and talents are well recognized. This panel features two regional initiatives, working with multiple higher education institutions, businesses, and other stakeholders to rally support for entrepreneurial ventures. Georgia University Entrepreneurship Initiative (GUEI) and the Northeast Ohio Collegiate Ecosystem offer details of their initiatives’ history, trajectory and future. 

The GUEI fosters innovative thinking to encourage entrepreneurial programs at universities across Georgia. State education leaders have advanced this effort and will report on their progress. GUEI recognized that universities throughout Georgia were underutilized resources in economic development and talent recruitment. The commissioning of studies has led to numerous programs and initiatives that have contributed to increased connectivity and collaboration among universities, the business community, the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and government leaders.

Northeast Ohio has enjoyed robust connectivity and collaboration among higher education institutions in entrepreneurship through the founding of the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (EEC 2007), JumpStart Higher Education Collaboration Council (JSHECC 2009) and Northeast Ohio Student Venture Fund (NEOSVF 2009). EEC will transform into the region’s collegiate hub performing numerous functions based on a multi-year Northeast Ohio Collegiate Ecosystem assessment. It intends to develop a world-class university-based ecosystem that will increase opportunities for college students, supporting attraction and retention efforts through partnerships with higher education, NEOSVF, its talent initiatives, and other ecosystems hubs. 

This session will deliver transferable lessons to collaborative ecosystem efforts in other regions. Attendees will meet in small groups to explore ecosystem development strategies that best align with their challenges and opportunities.


Deborah D. Hoover, Burton D. Morgan Foundation
Reka Barabas, Entrepreneurship Education Consortium
Donald Chambers, University of Georgia
Dr. Jennifer H. Sherer, Georgia State University
Daniel Hampu, Northeast Ohio Student Venture Fund

A2Show and Tell: A Collaborative Conversation About Marketing and Engagement Approaches to Support Diverse Students in University Entrepreneurship

Arizona State University (ASU) has offered programs to support entrepreneurship for the university and community for nearly two decades. Since 2020, ASU has been doing so in perpetuity through its endowments as the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute. University of New Hampshire’s Entrepreneurship Center is seven years old. Both recognize that despite having excellent experiential programs, there is a need for a well-developed student-centric strategy to increase awareness, engagement and participation. Building them is not enough. How do we support a diverse student body and attract students who might not believe they have permission and agency to solve problems with entrepreneurial actions? 

We will provide examples of intentional strategies taken at ASU and UNH to encourage diverse student participation during this interactive session. Marketing approaches and program design will be spotlighted with additional conversation around building connections and a sense of belonging within entrepreneurship as part of the culture of the student experience. In the past two years, creative marketing strategies with intentional reach were essential when COVID-19 disrupted the student experience. Learn how marketing efforts pivoted, contribute best practices from your institution and hear what lessons will continue to guide future outreach efforts in the years to come. We will discuss the value of peer-to-peer outreach and engagement in the activities of your Center/Institute.

Sharing marketing materials, program design, and other best practices will be encouraged throughout this conversation. How have you helped show examples of what is possible and how entrepreneurship is relevant to students? During this interactive session, let’s show and tell and leave with practical tips and questions to consider applying to your future practice.


Lauren Dunning, Arizona State University
Carrie Herrera Niesen, Arizona State University
Ian M. Grant, University of New Hampshire

A3Regional Economic Ecosystems

This panel features speakers that share their experiences building regional entrepreneurial ecosystems. Panelists will provide ecosystem examples in North Carolina, New Jersey, California, and Texas.

North Carolina holds the NC Entrepreneurship Educator’s Conference once a year. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro was one of the first in the nation to include community engagement metrics in its tenure and promotion guidelines. The Entrepreneurship Program has 50 courses in 17 departments that work with the community and university. 

New Jersey has a dynamic and diverse entrepreneurship ecosystem characterized by public-private and university partnerships. Unique features of the economy drive the ecosystem through partnerships, and the panel will highlight regional features. We’ll discuss the role of the New Jersey Big Data Alliance (NJBDA.org), which brings together universities, economic development agencies, and private sector members. 

In California, the Lavin Center at San Diego State University leverages a robust entrepreneurship ecosystem to benefit students, faculty, and the community. We will discuss the different programs and how they leverage various ecosystem partners. 

Regional ecosystems have emerged across Texas and coalesced into resource-rich innovation hubs, districts and communities. The Texas University Network of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (TUNIE), a university-based organization founded to promote and enhance the contributions of entrepreneurship programs to innovation, serves those districts. 

The panel will encourage audience participation to discuss other entrepreneurship ecosystems.


Dianne H.B. Welsh, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Ethné M. Swartz, Ph.D., Montclair State University
Alex DeNoble, Ph.D., San Diego State University
Kerri Smith, Rice University

A4The Case of New Kensington: How Building an Entrepreneurial Eco-System Helped Revitalize a City and Became an Essential Tool for Sustainability in the 4th Industrial Revolution

In 2017, Penn State built an entrepreneurial ecosystem in New Kensington to revitalize the downtown. The intention was to help rural America restore based on start-ups and innovation. Today the project boasts tremendous success, including entrepreneurial programming, co-working space, a corridor of innovation, and a Digital Maker Space. There are over 36 new businesses, $45 million in downtown investment, and $15 million raised by the campus to support workforce development and entrepreneurism. 

Seeing a boarded-up city spring back to life is exhilarating. However, the evolution of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and preparing communities, students, workers, businesses, and industry for the future is the most important outcome. This panel will discuss the success of building an entrepreneurial ecosystem in sparking a revitalization of towns and focus on the evolution of “Nextovation.” While supporting the creation of companies in New Kensington started the revival, sustaining it requires an entrepreneurial mindset. We intend to make the case that entrepreneurism is more than the ability to create companies. It is an essential tool in the Fourth Industrial Revolution world.

Kevin Snider, chancellor at Penn State New Kensington and architect of Nextovation, will lead the panel discussion. James Delattre will describe Penn State’s initiative to support entrepreneurs across the state. Rabih Helou, co-founder of the largest co-working enterprise, will provide an overview of ecosystem components that led to success in New Kensington. A former ARCONIC employee, Steve Leonard, will explain Industry 4.0 and the technologies involved in the initiative. Rhonda Schuldt will describe the evolution of the entrepreneurial mindset and how to incorporate it into training and education. Finally, the panelists will take you through the process of identifying ways to extend the innovative entrepreneurial mindset in your environment and answer any questions.


Kevin Snider, Penn State New Kensington
James Delattre, Penn State University
Rabih Helou, University of Pittsburgh
Steve Leonard, Penn State New Kensington
Rhonda Schuldt, University of Pittsburgh

A5Building National Innovation Programs and Regional Capacity

The need to solve global challenges while creating economic growth has led many nations to explore national programming to rethink how their investments in university-based scientific research lead to more impact (Mazzucato, 2021). However, experts warn that a lack of focus on building innovation capacity specific to a region will mean decreased ability to absorb home-grown talent and ventures (Breznitz, 2021). With that in mind, how do you develop national innovation programming that builds into regional capabilities? 

This panel offers lessons learned as the invention 2 Innovation (i2I) program and Mitacs’ i2I skills training program. The i2I program focuses on developing scientist-entrepreneur capacity, supporting the mobilization of scientific research advances to commercially and socially impactful ventures. Three parallel paths show the impact of i2I: 

  • The development of scientist-entrepreneurs founding and growing science-based ventures
  • The cultural change and capacity development in research scientists remaining within universities
  • The development of scientist-intrapreneurs who contribute to the adoption of new technologies in an established industry

The objective of the i2L program design is to change scientist academic culture by making the most of the complementarities between science and business. The program intends to instill transferable entrepreneurial skills in researchers and raise awareness of science-entrepreneurship as a viable and complementary career path through training and role models. Finally, the program addresses the scientist constituency in a targeted and contextual manner that bridges the motivations to scientific impact through discovery and societal impact through entrepreneurship. 

i2I builds a national network of scientist-entrepreneurs within a regional ecosystem by creating regional cohorts and national sectoral learning and mentoring groups. Support from academic leads at partner institutions impacts at national and regional levels. This structure also engages regionally-clustered research expertise and infrastructure in a national network, overlaying the investments of both national and provincial research granting programs and catalyzing their impact. 

Academic leads from across the country will provide insight into the drivers for bringing the program to their regions and how the i2I program has complemented regional ecosystem initiatives. Leads will also inform of the cultural and scientific impact and how they have built links into their existing and evolving regional ecosystems. 

Citations Breznitz, D. (2021) Innovation in Real Places. Oxford University Press. Mazzucato, M., (2021) Mission Economy. Penguin, UK.


Dr. Sarah Lubik, Simon Fraser University
Prof. James McLellan, Queens University
Prof. Aaron Newman, Dalhousie University (Halifax, Canada)
Prof. Carlos Baza, Memorial University (St. Johns, Canada)
Prof. Elicia Maine, Simon Fraser University (Moderator)

A6Oregon Ecosystems from Ideas to Action Through Strategic Doing

The Lemelson Foundation supports the University of Oregon convening the Eugene invention and entrepreneurship ecosystem, colleagues at Oregon Institute of Technology and the Klamath Falls ecosystem, and Portland State University. The three universities work to strengthen collaborations across each ecosystem and implement ideas for ecosystem growth and advancement. 

In Eugene, University of Oregon participants, a local entrepreneurship accelerator, the city, and other partners collaborate on implementing a mentor network for entrepreneurs. In Klamath Falls, the Oregon Institute of Technology connects with the local Small Business Development Center, the chamber of commerce, and others to strengthen and grow the Catalyze Klamath Falls Challenge business plan competition. Portland State University works with entrepreneurs and support organizations to develop approaches for engaging atypical founders and supporting a more inclusive and equitable ecosystem. The three ecosystems in Oregon use Strategic Doing, a partnership methodology and platform that help individuals and organizations move from ideas to action. 

In this panel, representatives of each ecosystem will discuss what they’ve discovered through this process and share strategies for ecosystem building. The panel session will employ participant engagement via Menti.com throughout the session to ensure a lively, interactive, and inclusive discussion.


Jim Woodell, Jim Woodell & Company and Venn University
Tina Guldberg, University of Oregon
Hallie Neupert, Oregon Institute of Technology

A7Activating Entrepreneurial Networks in a Virtual World

The emergent shifts we’ve experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic include a change to “digital-first” startups, the de-centralization of downtown hubs as places to live and work, and increased attention toward inclusion, equity, and accessibility in the innovation economy. Has this shift impacted the Startup and small business entrepreneurial ecosystem positively? Institutional partnerships with non-profits and for-profits bolstered the culture of entrepreneurship. In-person pitching events, “demo days,” innovation conferences, and networking events were active, often leveling the playing field for entrepreneurial students from underserved communities providing the ability to increase their networks. These events and community gatherings increased an individual’s opportunities by being introduced to a more extensive network, including other young leaders, startups, potential employers, and organizations that could further support them at the right stage of the entrepreneurial journey.

Canada saw some of the longest lockdowns in North America. According to University Affairs, returning to in-person learning across Canadian universities has promoted petitions and walk-outs against it from perspectives of personal health, financial ability, and desires for flexibility in the learning experience.

Which behaviors adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic do we hope to stick to in entrepreneurial ecosystems? What needs to return for us to boost entrepreneurship? In this panel, Canadian leaders of organizations and institutions that support entrepreneurial work-integrated learning opportunities and entrepreneurship through experiential learning will discuss the new challenges and the possibilities of our remote education and working realities. Canadian and U.S. institutions and ecosystem agents must continue to adapt how we develop innovation and entrepreneurship programming in a virtual world. We will discuss the limitations that this reality presents in building awareness around these initiatives, the collaboration amongst all the players in the sector and the new meaning that social capital and networks have in this content.


Scott Stirrett, Venture for Canada
Alfred Burgesson, Tribe Network
Keri Damen, The University of Calgary
Wen Teoh, The University of Windsor
Carrie Murphy, Venture for America

Track B: Entrepreneurship in the Curriculum

B1B.Y.O.M. – Bring Your Own Metrics

Bring your annual report, last brag book or survey responses for various rankings and join this hands-on, interactive workshop session to delve into the world of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Key Success Indicators (KSIs), and Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). Share what you are measuring and what it means for the success of your academic, co-curricular and extracurricular entrepreneurship centers, institutes and programs. What inputs, outputs and outcomes are you measuring? How do you communicate them to key stakeholders, from university leadership to donors and program funders? Which surveys are you responding to and why? Which rankings seem to matter the most to your leadership? How are you articulating your programs’ value and return on investment, and how are you balancing experiential and developmental outcomes from economic development indicators?

Following brief overviews from the panelists on what they are measuring and for whom, join in with other participants to share your concurring or unique metrics. Remember to bring your reports and examples to share as we collectively try to make sense of reporting impact.


Ji Mi Choi, J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute
John MacRitchie, Toronto Metropolitan University
James McLellan Ph.D., P.Eng., Dunin-Deshpande Queen's Innovation Centre

B2Experiential Entrepreneurship: Driving Innovation From the Classroom to Industry

Since the days of John Dewey, the notion that students learn best by doing has been a widely held view. Such activities are “experiential.” When we design programs that allow students to interact with their environment and practice activities, they will perform at higher levels and better prepare for the practitioner world. 

The industry tells us that it prefers students who have practical and hands-on skills. Such capabilities also lead to serial entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and an innovation mindset while developing collaboration skills and competencies working in cross-disciplinary teams. This panel will review existing programs that help students master entrepreneurial tools, gain hands-on experience and design disruptive solutions while being mentored by industry professionals with whom they may one day work. 

The Entrepreneurs Leadership Program (ELP), University of Michigan, provides in-depth training and mentorship for a select cohort of students to develop the functional, managerial, and leadership skills that differentiate the good from the great entrepreneurs. It equips some of the University of Michigan’s most driven minds with a rigorous experiential curriculum onto an entrepreneurial path during and after their college career. 

The Veale Snyder Fellowship Program, Case Western Reserve University, immerses students in the fundamentals of entrepreneurship then offers mentorship in Silicon Valley and an opportunity to gain deep insights into new product development at the Consumer Electronics Show. Students gain international experience visiting a start-up ecosystem outside the U.S., culminating in an internship. 

The Delta Air Lines Foundation supports the Student Industry Fellows Program (SIFP) at the University of Georgia (UGA). The SIFP cultivates innovation competencies among UGA students and fosters mutually beneficial industry partnerships. UGA plays a vital role in building today’s talent and empowering them to solve tomorrow’s challenges through this program. A signature program within UGA’s Innovation District, the SIFP is part of a unique ecosystem of talent, creativity and infrastructure that brings students from various disciplines together to solve emergent and pressing challenges through cross-disciplinary courses and experiences. 

We believe this insightful session will offer pathways for designing entrepreneurship programming to provide more experimental training, industry engagement and potential career or start-up opportunities for students. Time permitting, we will also briefly cover the topic of living-learning communities.


Donald Chambers, University of Georgia
Recha Reid, Georgia Tech
Nicholas Moroz, University of Michigan
Mindy Baierl, CWRU

B3Entrepreneurship and Innovation Education Inside and Outside the Classroom

Students from various disciplines have access to entrepreneurship and innovation education across most North American universities. Work-integrated learning (WIL) and project-based learning (PBL) studies demonstrate that students’ skill levels improve over traditional didactic approaches. However, little discussion and research have taken place in entrepreneurship and innovation education. WIL formally integrates a student’s academic studies with experiential learning in a workplace or practice setting. At the same time, PBL engages learners in knowledge construction by having them accomplish meaningful projects and develop real-world technologies, products, services, and ventures. 

This panel will share lessons learned and best practices from offering WIL and PBL through the ENtern Entrepreneurship Intern program at Penn State University and courses at Toronto Metropolitan University*. Panelists will include the creators of the programs and courses. Attendees will be encouraged to share how their initiatives provide opportunities for furthering experiential learning in entrepreneurship and innovation education inside and outside the classroom. 


Anne Hoag, Penn State University (Moderator)
Ted Graef, Penn State University
JP Silva, Toronto Metropolitan University*
Richard Lachman, Zone Learning, Toronto Metropolitan University*

*Renaming in the process - In the fall of 2021, the university adopted the 22 recommendations of the Standing Strong Task Force, including a process to rename the university.

B4Innovative Curriculum and Program Initiatives: Focusing on Economic Development

This session features current and former Texas-based educators involved with innovative initiatives in the business school that seek to spur economic development in their respective regions. Panelists from the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley, Texas Tech University, Texas State University and the University of Arkansas will share their key insights from the curriculum and programs they lead. Session attendees will gain new perspectives and tools to incorporate relevant ideas into their programs and initiatives by conversing with the panelists following presentations via a question-and-answer period.


Mr. Derek G. Abrams, Robert C. Vackar College of Business & Entrepreneurship, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (Moderator)
Dr. Michael Ryan, Rawls College of Business, Texas Tech University
Dr. Jana Minifie, McCoy College of Business, Texas State University
Mr. Weston Waldo, Sam M. Walton College of Business, University of Arkansas

B5Student-Run Business: Real Experiential Learning for Credit and Experience

Rabbit Robot, Food Buggy, in partnership with Saxby Coffee, and the Shift Retail Lab are model programs to engage students in real business opportunities.  

Rabbit Robot

In 2019, Ashland University took over a business to design, build, sell and deliver robots for STEM. Each year, over 40 Ashland students participate in this business, which teaches them to use equipment to make kits and program robots.

Teams of students make sales calls while other students help write the curriculum for using the robots, then manufacture and package the kits. This model is so successful that additional business opportunities are sought to launch other ventures. 

JCU Food Buggy

Saxbys is a Certified B Corporation that operates student-run cafes on college campuses, including Temple, Rowan, Penn State, and St. Joseph’s. Saxbys opened its first Ohio-based café on the campus of John Carroll University. Saxbys utilizes experiential learning platforms to operate their cafes for academic credit and a salary. Each semester, Saxbys employs a new student CEO to run each café. The JCU Food Buggy is a student-run business that serves meals from the mobile buggy to turn a profit and then to use that profit to feed people experiencing homelessness.

Shift Retail Lab 

Shift Retail Lab provides an important space for student entrepreneurs to test their ideas through sales and customer feedback. The products and services vary from items ready to buy to ideas that need development. Customers take an active part in developing ideas into successful products and services prepared to go to market. 

Following a short review of these programs, participants in the session will have the opportunity to ask questions.


Tom Sudow, Ashland University
Doan Winkel, Ph.D, John Carroll
Tyson Glover, VCU
Dr. Terry Tomlinson, Ashland University
Nathan Fox, Ashland University
Cora Wilson, Ashland University

B6Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship: Education & Training Programs

Social innovation and entrepreneurship (SIE) offer many financial and personal rewards. A popular perception is that SIE is less exciting, offering fewer opportunities for breakthrough innovation. The early development of an entrepreneurial mindset should counter that idea. “Appropriate Technology” must be emphasized in the curriculum as a central element of SIE. Community involvement for resource pooling and participative solution development are key aspects of SIE. Financial know-how is also essential so that social entrepreneurship is not mistaken for welfare initiatives. The central message must be that it is acceptable to do good for society while turning a decent profit.

This message may be delivered by carefully sequencing classroom courses and field visits to observe social entrepreneurs in action. Courses offered for college students may include Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship, Prototype Development, Business Planning & Proposal Writing, Creativity & Innovation, Design Thinking, etc. For college faculty, train-the-trainer programs may be offered.

Winter and Summer Schools may present the materials in a compressed 2-3 week format, with field visits. Students and practitioners may draw attendees. The diversity of views and experiences will add to the richness of the training component. While in-person classes offer the widest gamut of learnings, online courses and certification programs are gaining acceptance. A Master’s degree in SIE may also lend academic weight to the field.

In this panel, participants will describe their institutional outcomes of such programs. The objective is to define an optimal curricular model with global relevance and applicability. The Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem, in particular, is full of complexities that the panel can help unravel.


Dr. Dhirendra Shukla, University of New Brunswick (Moderator)
Ms. Iana Aranda, ASME
Dr. Satyajit Majumdar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

B7Training the Current Generation of MedTech Innovators

Over the last decades, many educational programs have focused on developing the “next generation” of entrepreneurs and innovators. While needed for the future, these programs do not adequately support current researchers and innovators who are ready and willing to translate their ideas into commercial products.

This panel will share the experience of the Cleveland health care technology ecosystem and showcase some of the programs developed to give highly productive professionals the tools they need to translate inventions now. Programs include:

  • I-Corp@Ohio: cross-state program following the NSF I-Corps framework with a specific focus on medical technologies
  • Translational Fellows Program: this buys out time for senior-level students and their faculty to engage in translational work and programing
  • VA-TEAM: this provides a support structure for early-stage commercial efforts across the VA health care system, showcasing technologies at environments like the Consumer Electronics Show and the Case-Coulter C3i proposal development program. 

The panel will include perspectives from a faculty innovator who has participated in many of these programs. Their programs demonstrate a marked improvement in the pipeline of commercially attractive technologies across multiple institutions.


Steve Fening, Case Western Reserve University (Moderator)
Ofer Reizes, Cleveland Clinic
Agata Exner, Case Western Reserve University
Mark Chance, Case Western Reserve University

Track C: University Research Commercialization and Startups

C1Commercialization within Regional Innovation Ecosystem Development

For over eight years, George Washington University (GW) has been a critical team leader and innovator in the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps Node. As a result, Lean Startup methodologies are central to all its programs. Additionally, GW has pioneered new mentoring strategies which provide long-term support throughout the commercialization process. Using this foundation, GW has developed programs on the local, regional and international levels, working with various partners to maximize the reach of our entrepreneurial offerings while building integrated early-stage development ecosystems. These programs include partnerships with Howard University to develop the Entrepreneur Development Network of DC (EDNDC) and George Mason University to develop the Virginia Innovation Commercialization Assistance Program (ICAP), and organizations like the National Research Foundation of Korea and the Korean Innovation Center of DC.

This Lean-based instruction and mentoring have resulted in our networks impacting over 1500 new ventures globally, representing dozens of universities, regional accelerators, and economic development organizations. Participating companies have raised over $1 billion in follow-on funding, including Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants and venture financing. This panel will provide an overview of the GW philosophy and its implementation in collaboration with our key partners to build strong, integrated regional innovation ecosystems.


Kerry Slattery, The George Washington University (Moderator)
Bob Smith, The George Washington University
Josh Green, George Mason University
Qyana M. Stewart, Entrepreneur Development Network of DC (EDNDC)

C2University Research Staff Engagement – Educational Efforts to Increase Awareness of the Commercialization and Innovation Process

The commercialization process can be a confusing and frustrating experience, even for seasoned inventors and entrepreneurs. Understanding the process can make life easier for faculty members and the technology transfer office (TTO) when an invention has licensing potential. This is challenging when commercialization and entrepreneurship are not part of the culture at a university, and often, efforts to educate research staff on their responsibilities to disclose inventions are not successful. Academic researchers are bombarded with information when they wish to learn more about commercialization, making it challenging to get their ideas out into the real world. It is beneficial to know how to get their ideas to market and how their university’s TTO can help them do that. 

This panel will share the experience of university TTO members and industry professionals in their efforts to reach faculty and research staff to drive the innovation and entrepreneurship culture. Panelists will share lessons learned by developing an online course geared toward faculty members and research staff. This course formed a partnership with AUTM, a nonprofit association whose mission is to educate, promote and inspire professionals to support the development of academic research that changes the world and drives innovation forward. They work together to help university employees understand and see the benefits of engaging in the technology transfer process. The audience will hear from various TTO staff members from two universities. The Professional Development Senior Director from AUTM will also share AUTM’s Better World Project.


Beth Deuermeyer, Texas A&M University
Barbara Gunderson, AUTM
Chris Scotti, Texas A&M University
Kashif Haque, University of Toledo

C3Frameworks to Support Program Design, Enhance Ecosystem Collaboration and Guide Startups

Students do not need to develop the same level of entrepreneurial competency when exploring entrepreneurship as start-up founders. Early-stage start-up founders don’t need to establish proficiency in the same entrepreneurial skills as founders later in the start-up journey. Not all start-up ecosystem players need to develop programs to support all types of founders for all entrepreneurial competency proficiency development along the start-up journey. 

The challenge of designing and developing programs is to pinpoint where the proposed program fits along with the individual’s progression from idea to a company and the type and quality of knowledge or skill acquisition required to drive the idea or start-up toward that next “business” milestone. 

This panel will introduce two detailed and actionable frameworks to support intentional program design, focusing on driving right-sized learning outcomes to support specific progress from idea to impact. A discussion will follow on how Dalhousie University adopted these frameworks within Dal Innovates and the I-INC network with the Scientist to Entrepreneur suite of programs to support program alignment and optimization at both organizations.


Jane Somerville, District 3
Spencer Giffin, Dalhousie University

C4Empower and Enable Through Experiential Entrepreneurship

45m: Panelist Presentations

30m: Student-Led Audience Engagement Feature 

With innovation and empathy-driven programming at the center of their work, three universities discuss their approaches to growth-oriented learning during an unprecedented job market. Discover unique ways to instill a sense of empowerment through experiential entrepreneurship. In cultivating safe spaces for students to fail forward, the goals are to use innovative design thinking settings to position students as leaders by emphasizing their creative expertise. 

Toronto Metropolitan University Design Fabrication Zone (DFZ): The DFZ, a Zone Learning-based creative incubator, discusses their Student Consultants program. The program took a chance on the notion that students have enough knowledge of their discipline to help entrepreneurs in related fields.

Kent State Design Innovation + LaunchNET: The LaunchNET and Design Innovation Teams are partners in linking student-focused entrepreneurship and innovation experiences. The DI HUB formally opened in November of 2020, enabling the opportunities to launch unique collaborative challenge-based innovation programs. These programs required creative pivoting to respond to the complexities of the pandemic. 

  • The DI Fellows Program helps students become creative and collaborative cross-disciplinary leaders of innovation at Kent State University. The program allows students to achieve the title of “DI Fellow” through a team-based “quest” approach to acquiring and integrating the eleven ‘elements’ in our “DI Toolkit.”
  • The Marty Erbaugh i3 LAB houses student teams that ideate, innovate and incubate their ventures through a product accelerator program led by LaunchNET and DI. The product accelerator is a multi-week program designed to help teams advance to the next stage in their start-up journey through customer discovery, business development and prototyping. The entrepreneurial workspace features resources, co-working areas and private offices within the DI Hub at Kent State.

VCU: To continuously evolve student experiences in innovation and entrepreneurship, the da Vinci Center for Innovation uses design thinking. Specifically, they use student and stakeholder feedback to create impactful experiences that deepen their connection with students. They illustrate design thinking in practice as students practice it themselves, provide examples of failure as a learning opportunity, and stay mindful of a rapidly changing student audience. In this session, the da Vinci Center will share its model for applied cross-disciplinary education and how student feedback led to and continues to inform the formation of the new Shift Retail Lab.



Allison Schumacher, Virginia Commonwealth University
Ashley Jane Lewis, Toronto Metropolitan University
Peggy Sue Deaven, Toronto Metropolitan University
J.R. Campbell, Kent State University
Zachary Mikrut, Kent State University

C5Adapting Lean Startup for a Transformative “Lab to Market” Mission in India

The Gopalakrishnan-Deshpande Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (GDC) leveraged Lean Startup to design programs that help STEM colleges across India transform research into vibrant startups that yield socio-economic impact. In India, deep-tech constitute less than 1% of 60,000 startups. The lab-to-market journey for science-based startups is challenging due to several gaps in the innovation ecosystem.

There is no equivalent of the National I-Corps in India. While there are programs for funding research, prototype and pilots, there is no program that enables scientists to channel research into viable startups. Less than 5% of faculty commercialize their research in STEM universities. Despite quality physical infrastructure, a handful of 600+ incubators in India are effective. They lack effective mentoring processes to systematically help science-based startups de-risk and improve founders’ capabilities to build scalable businesses. Not surprisingly, there is inadequate interest from seed/angel investors, venture capital and banks to fund IP/research-based startups at early stages (TRL 3-6). 

To address these critical gaps in the Indian ecosystem that hamper the growth of startups, GDC designed specific programs based on the principles of Lean Startup. The curriculum and pedagogy specifically address the challenges at different stages of the Customer Development process, namely, establishing Proof of Concept, Proof of Market, Proof of Technology, Proof of Value, and Proof of Business. 

The I-NCUBATE program targets faculty, researchers, and students at STEM universities who wish to commercialize their research through startups. Applicant teams must have a proof of concept but would not know what problem their innovation solves. Significantly, some team members may not have been exposed to any business concepts and would essentially be technical researchers. The curriculum of I-NCUBATE aims to build three thematic capabilities in participants:

  • Business management concepts
  • Becoming entrepreneurial
  • Communication skills

GDC’s second program, I-NSPIRE, targets founders of science-based start-up firms that are just gaining customer success. I-NSPIRE aims to help the founders:

  • Learn how to build a scalable business based on the initial market traction they experience
  • Improve their entrepreneurial quotient by critical thinking skills and business acumen

GDC’s third program, I-GNITE, is a year-long engagement designed explicitly for startups that qualify from I-NCUBATE/I-NSPIRE. The program aims to reduce time to revenue by 50 percent and dramatically increase the odds of success for deep tech startups by formulating a scalable business model.


Raghuttama Rao, Indian Institute of Technology Madras
Prof Krishnan Balasubramanian, IIT Madras
Mr. K. V. Anand, GDC, IIT Madras
Mr. Rajiv Kumar Jain, GDC, IIT Madras

C6Leveraging Key Partners in Building Robust Entrepreneurship/Innovation Programs

The business model canvas highlights the importance of key partners to the success of a venture. These ‘external’ individuals and groups strengthen a company’s value proposition, open up new channels to reach customers, and provide critical resources to help differentiate the product offering. The importance of partners to the success of a university-based entrepreneurship program is no different, offering connections and resources that synergize and complement the core ‘in-house’ faculty and staff. A portfolio of university partners can serve many purposes, as they:

  • Facilitate the pipeline of students reaching out to engage
  • Provide diverse perspectives for curriculum and programming
  • Strengthen the breadth and depth of experiential learning opportunities for students
  • Open up innovative funding streams

During this session, panelists from entrepreneurship programs will share the opportunities, challenges, and outcomes associated with partnerships. Panelists will discuss gaps in partnerships. Participants in the session will have a chance to identify a partnership they hope to initiate or strengthen. The panelists offer three key actions steps to take as a follow-on activity after the conference.


Michael S. Lehman, Lehigh University
Cornelia Huellstrunk, Princeton University
Julie Messing, Central Michigan University

C7Nurturing Early-stage Opportunities Toward Ultimate Commercialization

This panel will share the experience of the Northeast Ohio entrepreneurial ecosystem focused on developing entrepreneurial capabilities that align with the research output of our academic and health campus laboratories. Themes include:

  • Opportunity assessment: recognizing when a research program is a candidate for entrepreneurial activity.
  • Faculty engagement: synching faculty and researcher interests to market needs.
  • Ecosystem engagement: ensuring that the regional “receptors” of such opportunities (e.g., entrepreneurs, investors, potential employees) are cognizant of these activities.


Jon Friedland, Cleveland Clinic (Moderator)
Andrew Cornwell, Case Western University Coulter Translational Partnership
Elyse Ball, University of Akron Research Foundation

Track D: Emerging Trends

D1Accounting for the History of Black Entrepreneurship in the Curriculum

As we focus on the power and impact that diversity, equity, and inclusion have on the success of entrepreneurial ecosystems, we would be negligent in ignoring and excluding the value of the historical perspective of Black entrepreneurs. Through live polling, reflective questioning and interactive engagement, this panel discussion will: 

  • Reconsider Bloom’s knowledge categories to account for pre-exposure 
  • Establish the history of pre-colonial, colonial and antebellum Black business activity 
  • Unpack the PESTEL dynamics that frame the Black entrepreneurial experience 
  • Connect historical perspectives to current levels of Black entrepreneurial execution 
  • Discuss implications for Black venture funding and entrepreneurial persistence 
  • Showcase best practices for entrepreneurial learning at HBCUs and MSIs 
  • Recommend modifications for curriculum redesign that reflect DEI and belonging.


LaTanya White, Ph.D, M.B.A., Concept Creative Group
Tiffany R. Bussey, DBA, Morehouse College
Keith Hollingsworth, PhD, Morehouse College
Hanif Omar, MBA, Piedmont Business Capital; Shaw University

D2Advances in Entrepreneurship: A Decade of changes

To celebrate a decade of Deshpande Symposiums and its impact on innovation and entrepreneurship, we have brought together a stellar panel of Deshpande Symposium awardees to share their perspectives on changes in their field and the progress they have made since being recognized. The innovative approaches of the panelists and their programs gained recognition for maintaining student engagement in entrepreneurship. How have their programs grown? What new advances have happened since their award? How might they have pivoted to address past challenges? 

The session promises to be very engaging and informative. Panelists include:

  • Nathalie Duval-Couetil, Professor of Human Resource Development and Director, Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Recognized with the Excellence in Curriculum Innovation Award in 2017 for Purdue University’s Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program. 
  • Holly Lalos, Director, Rist DifferenceMaker Institute, UMass Lowell. The DifferenceMaker program was recognized with the Excellence in Student Engagement Award in 2016. 
  • Scott Taylor, Arthur M. Blank Endowed Chair for Values-Based Leadership, Babson College. Babson was recognized for Curriculum Innovation in 2014 for its Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship course.


Raj Melville, Deshpande Foundation
Nathalie Duval-Couetil, Purdue University
Holly Lalos, UMass Lowell
Scott Taylor, Babson College

D3The Role of Student Innovation Competitions and Programs in Building Innovative Thinking Skills

Student innovation competitions emerged as pipeline-builders and transformative for higher education entrepreneurial ecosystems. With increased attention to entrepreneurship and innovation, higher education institutions and foundations have expanded their offerings of co-curricular, noncredit programs to recruit and support student innovators in which student teams aim to solve open-ended problems. Therefore, student innovation competitions and programs are increasingly playing roles in educating the next generation of innovators and critical thinkers. 

This panel will focus on student innovation competitions and programs’ benefits, challenges, and success factors and their roles in educational entrepreneurial ecosystems. Despite the popularity of student competitions, the literature includes limited research on the benefits and impediments of competition on students’ learning and development and almost no work on the barriers to the participation of underrepresented students in these programs. 

This panel is motivated by starting a dialogue about pedagogical aspects of student innovation competitions. We will frame the panel discussion around what attributes of student innovation competitions and programs give students transformational experiences. In particular, we will discuss how students develop an innovative mindset and the role of student competition in this process. Secondly, we will discuss strategies to increase participation in these extra-curricular activities by a diverse group of students. Preliminary empirical data collected in our current research projects will support the discussion. 

We envision this panel will start a long-term dialogue among the community of entrepreneurship educators interested in enhancing student competition through evidence-based practices. Hence, after the brief presentation of the panelist, participants will be asked to collaborate to explore and share their best practices and challenges through a structured group activity.


Sadan Kulturel-Konak, Penn State Berks
Abdullah Konak, Penn State Berks
Michael Lehman, Lehigh University
Cara Barnes, VentureWell

D4Solving the Wicked Problem of Structural Racism Through Innovation and Entrepreneurship Education

First put forth by Rittel (1973), wicked problems are socially pervasive challenges that cannot be solved by a single answer— if there is an answer to them at all. Structural racism is one such wicked problem. While all organizations require diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, it’s a far cry from what’s needed to address an issue as fundamental to this country’s founding and identity as anti-Black racism. 

Entrepreneurship and innovation centers have a unique role in advancing systemic change, especially if we consider entrepreneurship a viable pathway to addressing societal problems. But how do we prepare educators to provide students with the much-needed context on race and racism? Are there practical solutions to address this wicked problem in our lifetime? 

In this highly interactive panel, the presenting scholars from the Concept Creative Group and Princeton University will answer these questions through participant engagement on the history of race and racism in the country. The panel will share practical applications of addressing structural racism in engineering, innovation, and technology and curricula designed for these topics.


Greg Duncan, Princeton University (Moderator)
Cornelia Huellstrunk, Princeton University
Greg Duncan, Princeton University
Kelly Godfrey, Ph.D, McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning
LaTanya White, Ph.D., M.B.A., Concept Creative Group

D5Enhancing Program Viability and Vibrancy by Centering the Entrepreneur

This panel will present three unique approaches to centering entrepreneurs in intentional program design to develop and foster a strong sense of belonging. It is an interactive session with content delivered in rapid-fire idea generation ways that encourage attendees to learn and apply by centering you as a participant. Multiple voices will share their unique perspectives and experiences. Through their own ‘proof of concept’ experiences, panelists will share lessons learned in the feasibility, desirability, and viability of creating vibrant programming that supports the next generation of courageous and creative entrepreneurial leaders that flourish by embracing community voices and collaboration.


Sanjai Tripathi, College of Business, Oregon State University
Kristin Slice, J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute, Arizona State University
Lesley Robinson, Kendra Scott Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute at The University of Texas at Austin
Jenavi Kasper, La Jefa Status

D6Building Local Entrepreneurship Ed Ecosystems: Pathways Between K12 and Higher Ed

This panel aims to host a conversation to share challenges and ideas while communicating the values and goals of entrepreneurship education for all. It’s necessary to understand the importance of great collaborations and powerful partnerships to strengthen local ecosystems’ ties. The goal is to create a space for learning with and from others about creating and maintaining such ecosystems.

Panelists will share their experiences, recent initiatives and ask for audience members to participate in a conversation about topics such as:

  • Challenges of connecting with K12 schools and higher ed institutions
  • Examples of successful ecosystems between K12, postsecondary and the business community
  • Defining success around a goal of entrepreneurship education for every student
  • Opportunities for cross-collaboration across entrepreneurship education providers


Dr. J.D. LaRock, NFTE (Moderator)
Kene Turner, NFTE
Toni Van Doren, Nicolet College
Ilene Frankel, Young Entrepreneur Institute
Mathew Poyle, Lorain County Community College
Tabitha Messmore, LaunchNET Kent State University

D7Applying a ‘mentor-protege’ approach to broadening participation of HBCUs in the National I-Corps Network (NIN)

Innovation is a critical driver of economic growth, yet only 8% of minorities, 12% of women, and less than 0.05% of African Americans are considered innovators. However, an analysis of doctoral dissertations shows that although underrepresented groups demonstrate significant scientific innovation, these contributions rarely integrate into future work compared to equally impactful contributions by majority groups. 

To engage the academic population in entrepreneurship at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), we broadened perspectives of the I-Corps curriculum to fit the education and research at HBCUs. A consortium of three NC universities and the NYC Regional Innovation Network (NYCRIN) I-Corps Node established a partnership developing a specialized Lean LaunchPad training program for HBCU students, faculty and staff. The overarching goals are to evaluate the effectiveness of this approach in broadening participation in I-Corps and mainstreaming the innovation capacities of HBCUs. 

Panelists are instructors from collaborating institutions who trained and served as the teaching team for regional and national cohorts. They will discuss the rationale for creating the program, partnership selection, team recruitment, best practices for the ‘mentor-protege’ model, scaling a repeatable training model for entrepreneurship instructors, and outcomes for the cohorts. 

This session allows attendees to learn from practitioners about creating a multi-institutional entrepreneurship training paradigm. Panel members will work with the audience to develop ideas for future collaborative programming utilizing the “mentor-protégé” model and helping the audience build on their current campus efforts to answer such questions as:

  • Why might you want such a program in the future? 
  • What will you look for in a partner? 
  • How will you ensure that all stakeholders benefit and grow from the program?


Jessica Fields, NYC Regional Innovation Network
Caesar Jackson, Ph.D., North Carolina Central University
Jill Keith, Ph.D., Winston-Salem State University
Mohd Anwar, Ph.D., North Carolina A&T State University
Cira Cardaci, NY Region NSF I-Corps Hub