10th Annual Symposium
June 10-11, 2021 | Virtual Event

Panel Details

Track A: Developing Entrepreneurial Universities, Culture & Ecosystems

A1Philanthropy as Ecosystem Builder: Connecting Universities, Entrepreneurs & Communities

Philanthropic funding of entrepreneurship is gaining traction among funders seeking to build support networks for entrepreneurs and to become more vocal advocates for startup communities. A growing number of philanthropies are focusing their energies on supporting campus-based ecosystems and on fostering strategic connections into the larger community of entrepreneurs. The fusion of campus-based entrepreneurship ecosystems with regional ecosystems is a critical factor in the overall effectiveness of a community’s ability to support its entrepreneurs. College and university communities can work to strengthen and connect internal innovation and entrepreneurship programs and are also well positioned to build outward facing elements that provide community entrepreneurs  access to innovation, invention, and entrepreneurship support services. In the context of the stark new reality that confronts our interconnected world, networks of forward-thinking universities, entrepreneurs, and community partners have never been more critical.

This session will feature representatives from entrepreneurship-focused foundations and foundation-funded initiatives seeking to build community capacity to support entrepreneurs by serving as engaged ecosystem builders. Panelists will tackle these topics from a variety of perspectives including regional and statewide ecosystem building, campus-focused ecosystems, networked programs that reach nationally and internationally, and mapping of ecosystem elements. Given the dramatic changes taking place in higher education as a result of the pandemic, panelists will highlight how their approaches are shifting to accommodate remote learning and innovations in response to the crisis. Panelists will also seek to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges campuses face in building ecosystems. Attendees will gain a clearer picture of how they can work with funders not only to secure grants, but also to take advantage of the tools foundations deploy to support ecosystems that connect campus to community so all partners can be positioned to advance ideas aimed at addressing the world’s more pressing challenges.


Deborah D. Hoover, Burton D. Morgan Foundation (Moderator)
Erica Lock, Blackstone Charitable Foundation
Michael Goldberg, Case Western Reserve University
Rachel J. Brunette, Lemelson Foundation
Lisa Katz, William Davidson Foundation

A2Vignettes of Diversity: A Practical Approach to Increasing Diversity in Your Entrepreneurship Programs

Students of color do not share a competitive advantage with other students in the entrepreneurs’ education ecosystem.  Students of color face racism, difficulty in securing funding, and limited social capital.  While they start businesses at the same rate as other students there is a disparity in their businesses’ sustainability and survival.  

We need to look beyond these statistics and examine the practices within our own entrepreneurship programs so we can eliminate barriers, and increase the number of students of color who pursue entrepreneurship. Many entrepreneurship programs lack diversity in their faculty, instructors and mentors,  as well as in the materials used to teach. In addition, many of us may have implicit biases that throw up barriers to truly engaging diverse entrepreneurs. 

The panel will put forward ideas on how entrepreneurial education ecosystems can address the disparity for students of color. Panelists will use real-life examples of specific, sticky situations they’ve faced when implementing entrepreneurship programs and curriculum and provide evidence-based, tactical advice that participants can utilize to create more diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial programs. 


Michael Thompson Jr., Walsh University
Michelle I. Spain, Walsh University
Andrea Ippolito, Cornell University
Brian Grant, City National Bank

A3Understanding the Why: Partnering Around Shared Vision to Create Greater Impact

How do we work together across different silos within a university or community? How can limited resources be leveraged to have more impact? How do we convince others to join forces when we operate in a competitive environment?

The answer to all these questions lies in understanding the why behind our work. When individuals are aligned behind a greater mission, barriers can be broken down, and resources better leveraged, to have a greater impact on stakeholders and the larger community.

In this session panelists share how they found ways to “work across the aisle “at their institutions:

Vickie Gibbs, Executive Director of The Entrepreneurship Center at UNC’s Business School, discusses working with the Director of UNC’s Shuford Program, the College of Arts and Sciences entrepreneurial initiative to create a unique value proposition for each program that compliments the student entrepreneurial experience.

Camille Warren, Managing Director of Research for the Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, shares her experience founding the Youth-Serving Entrepreneurship Programs (YEP) Collective which brings together more than 20 community organizations and three universities to cultivate new collaborations among local youth-serving entrepreneurship program providers.

Steven Tello, Vice Provost for Graduate & Professional Studies, UMass Lowell, will share how he’s helped to bridge gaps across schools within the University, as well as with neighboring universities and partners, to enrich the educational experience for students, and provide additional services that would not otherwise be possible.


Vickie Gibbs, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Camille Warren, Duke University
Melissa Carrier, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Moderator)
Steven Tello, UMass Lowell (Moderator)

A4Economic Engagement Through Student Entrepreneurship: The InventOR Model

The InventOR collegiate invention competition brings together twenty institutions of higher education in Oregon in a year-long program to inspire and enable student inventors and entrepreneurs in communities across the state. Participating schools, which include R1 universities, regional-serving four-year institutions, private liberal arts schools, and community colleges, host institution-level competitions for their students with a focus on regional economic needs and opportunities. Selected winners advance to a statewide competition, prior to which they receive funding, technical assistance, mentorship, business coaching, and other support from both faculty and volunteers from industry and government.

The event has helped foster unprecedented multi-institution cooperation in Oregon, creating opportunities for students to leverage resources and expertise across the state while demonstrating the economic value of the state’s higher education enterprise as a whole. In addition to growing participation fourfold in three years, InventOR has gained financial and in-kind support from a diverse group of stakeholders: economic development organizations, private and community foundations, law firms, state government, and angel investors. Participating students learned valuable skills in engineering, invention, and entrepreneurship that have been highly attractive to prospective employers. Past participants have even launched high-growth oriented businesses in priority sectors in the state, such as Nexgarden, a modular aeroponic gardening company that has received pre-SBIR support from the state and has multiple demonstration projects deployed with customers.

This panel discussion will feature an overview of how InventOR was launched and scaled to institutions across Oregon, and how an invention and entrepreneurship competition can be used to communicate the economic value of student entrepreneurship to diverse stakeholders in other states. Program leads will also discuss how they modified the program on the fly to account for Oregon’s stay at home order during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Rachel Jagoda Brunette, The Lemelson Foundation (Moderator)
Juan Barraza, Portland State University
Hallie Neupert, Oregon Institute of Technology
Blake Turner, Portland State University

A5Developing and Pivoting Culture on an Entrepreneurial Campus

Universities eager to strengthen their entrepreneurial efforts typically allocate resources to entrepreneurship courses, co-curricular programs, mentor networks and the like. However, questions around the entrepreneurial culture that institutions seek to cultivate are often an afterthought, even though this culture can make or break an institution’s entrepreneurial impact.
This interactive session will begin with attendees spending a few minutes documenting key words that describe the entrepreneurial culture on their respective campus.

The panelists will then lead a discussion on how they have thought through issues at the center of entrepreneurial culture at their particular institutions. How do we create an entrepreneurial culture that is supportive of students from a range of majors and with varying degrees of familiarity with entrepreneurship? In what (intentional or unintentional) ways does our entrepreneurial culture impact students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds? How do we create “entrepreneurial safe spaces” that allow for experimentation and failure? What role do physical spaces play in shaping entrepreneurial culture? What impact do the local and regional communities have on our culture…and vice versa? In what ways are our entrepreneurship centers themselves modeling entrepreneurial culture?

The session will include robust group and break-out discussions on the above topics, as well as an exercise whereby attendees map the historic and/or intended evolution of the entrepreneurial culture on their campuses.
The panelists are eager to hear the perspectives of the attendees to garner a better sense of what types of entrepreneurial cultures exist at other institutions and to jointly develop a repository of best practices to cultivate effective entrepreneurial campus climates and cultures. Newer programs can learn from long-term programs, and long-term programs can learn practices from the culture of the newer programs.


Cornelia Huellstrunk, Princeton University
Michael S. Lehman, Lehigh University
Julie Messing, Kent State University
Kay Molkentin, University of Portland

A6Entrepreneurs in the Field: The Role of the Land Grant University in Fostering a Regional Food & Ag Ecosystem

As publicly funded agricultural and technical educational institutions, Land Grant Universities (LGUs) are vested with a mission to promote talent, innovation, and place. At their finest, LGUs offer forward-thinking programs to grow and diversify the economy in their regions and beyond. This panel discussion will explore three LGU programs intended to support and empower food and ag communities by sparking entrepreneurialism and charting a path towards greater economic and ecological resilience in rural America. 

  • Cornell University Center for Regional Economic Advancement (CREA) CREA produces the Grow-NY food and ag startup competition as a means to attract innovation to the farming and F&B production communities in New York’s Central, Finger Lakes, and Southern Tier regions, leading to economic gains (job creation, revenue, capital formation) and fostering activity, vibrancy, and growth in the area’s ecosystem. 
  • Fort Valley State University’s Center of Agriculture, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Currently in the planning phases, this center will help researchers and area farmers bring their products and ideas to market, providing them with the infrastructure required in the 21st-century, digital economy – a resource farming communities in the Black Belt Region presently lack. 
  • Purdue Foundry and Ag-Celerator Launched in December 2015, Ag-Celerator is a $2 million fund to help launch startups and innovations focused on advancing crop traits and higher yields. The fund supports Purdue University innovators who wish to commercialize patented intellectual property or Purdue know-how technologies in plant sciences. More than 56 projects have moved through Ag-Celerator, and fifteen startups have been selected for funding. 

Topics explored will include developing trust and credibility, effective outreach and communication strategies, and cultivating leadership within constituent communities. Consideration of these program models will be a launchpad for dialogue with the audience in which lessons on the creation of connective tissue between industry, researchers, and entrepreneurs are shared. 


Jenn Smith, Center for Regional Economic Advancement at Cornell University
Kyeema L. Zerbe, Innovation Institute for Food and Health, UC Davis (Moderator)
Govind Kannan, Fort Valley State University
Dan Dawes, Purdue University

A7Transforming Campuses into Living Labs to Foster Sustainability-Focused Institutional Change

Today, we face planetary-scale environmental and social crises that are unprecedented in our history – challenges linked to human activity with social, cultural, and economic drivers. On the bright side, there is more knowledge than ever about how to generate solutions and how to avoid contributing to future undesirable impacts.

As educators, we recognize the importance of teaching sustainability-focused concepts and using tools and frameworks that may lead to critical innovative solutions. But we (students, faculty, and staff) want to do more!

In this session we’ll discuss initiatives and tools that that can help you create a positive and long-lasting impact on your campus and in your community including:

  • How to leverage your communities of researchers, educators, and student innovators to drive a sustainability agenda
  • How to create a living lab where students can gain hands-on and real-world experiences that inform their future as innovators and entrepreneurs in the green economy
  • Free tools and frameworks available to help you integrate sustainability concepts into course curriculum

Panelists will share best practices and specific recommendations for actionable next steps. Session attendees will be able to return to their campuses knowing how to support a comprehensive sustainability initiative, and how to make sustainable practices more accessible to the broader public.


Phil Weilerstein, VentureWell (Moderator)
Cindy Cooper, The Lemelson Foundation
Scott Schrake, Colorado State University
Amy Tuniga, Montclair State University
Volker Sick/Jonathon Fay, University of Michigan

A8Universities as Partners: Some Principles

Universities are more complex today than they have ever been, and so are the economic and community development issues we are tackling. Pandemic recovery and social unrest are just a couple of examples of issues that must be considered in our engagements with external stakeholders.

To continue to play a transformative role and to create economic and societal value, universities should adopt three principles, to be explored by this panel:

  1. Make the most of networks
  2. Start with engagement
  3. Become more agile

Panelists will highlight examples of the challenges universities face in adopting and adhering to these principles, especially in these difficult times, and discuss strategies they have used to overcome them. 


Jim Woodell, Jim Woodell & Company (Moderator)
Rachel Jagoda Brunette, Lemelson Foundation
Sherine Obare, North Carolina A&T State University
Eddie Pauline, The Ohio State University

Track B: Entrepreneurship in the Curriculum

B1Continuums and Conundrums – Designing, launching, and growing campus-wide innovation education programs.

Growth in undergraduate curricular programs focusing on innovation has been striking in the last two decades. Beyond courses or majors that were common in schools of management or engineering, undergraduate minors in innovation are increasingly catering to students pursuing programs in the arts, humanities, law, math, medicine, and science.

However, a number of conundrums remain around the delivery of campus-wide innovation education, as well as the continuum of options, causing “analysis paralysis” and delayed implementation. Should a university adopt a magnet or a radiant organizational model for their campus-wide program? Should the program be anchored in a faculty, faculties, or an independent organization sponsored by the office of the provost? Should programs be designed for students wanting to improve their career prospects or for students looking to acquire innovation skills? Should schools adapt innovation education to the disciplinary contexts of students or make it broad and independent to serve all backgrounds?

The session will include a real-time interactive survey enabling attendees to share their experiences and will also include:

  • Panelists presenting on the continuums and conundrums that they have encountered in their campus-wide innovation education initiatives
  • Audience attendees discussing how they have identified and addressed their own continuums and conundrums
  • Panelists  and attendees sharing their trial and error journeys as well as the lessons learned as they’ve designed, launched, and grown their campus-wide innovation education programs


John MacRitchie, Ryerson University. (Moderator)
Carrie J. White, West Virginia University
Nora Myers, WVU Institute of Technology
JP Silva, Ryerson University
John MacRitchie, Ryerson University

B2Lean Start-Up Pedagogy in Project-Based Learning

The project-based curriculum used at some U.S. institutions of higher education fosters student development in areas that are critical to entrepreneurial success: curiosity, time management, strategic thinking, efficiency, resilience, communication, and networking, for example.

A collaboration between a U.S. and an Armenian university created opportunities that also challenged students to behave like entrepreneurs by engaging them in long-term team projects that had sponsors in Armenia (a former Soviet state and an economy in transition).  A U.S.-based prep course created strong opportunities for students from both countries to develop global perspectives and cultural competence.

While psychological safety is necessary for teams to function at a high level, a comprehensive pedagogy to support effective student teaming in projects does not exist. To address this, the instructor for the project’s prep course and a volunteer agile coach co-developed and employed a strengths-based approach that included:

  • Operational definition of an effective team that supported autonomy, relatedness, and competence for each student
  • Activities and tools from The Core Protocols
  • Training in structured group decision-making and project management
  • Heavy formative assessment 
  • A grading scheme articulated according to the origins of course-produced products (individually, vs. team-produced) instead of according to the products themselves

Challenges that emerged included student discomfort working in ambiguous situations, reluctance to follow a prescribed procedure for facilitating meetings, lack of familiarity with creating psychological safety, and fear of conveying vulnerability.

The audience will be asked to engage along several lines:

  • Critique the approach, relative to the outcomes
  • Consider the impacts that operating a course as a lean start-up could have on student learning, especially with regard to entrepreneurship
  • Reflect on the potential of the approach to serve as a model for both developing projects for students and for teaching I&E


Joseph A. Doiron, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Moderator)
Paula Quinn, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Marc Trudeau, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and LikeBreathin.com
Sharistan Melkonian, American University of Armenia
Curtis Abel, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Nina Kirakosyan, American University of Armenia

B3Hacking Student Engagement

What exactly is a “hackathon?” If you search the term on the Internet, you’ll find a myriad of definitions and explanations, typically centering on computer science and programming. In this session, we will share not just what hackathons are, but what they can be – an incredible tool to engage students across all disciplines to think like an entrepreneur and the local community to be partners and collaborators with your students.

Learn about types of hackathons (industry, themes, problem-solving, corporate-sponsored), best practices and lessons learned from the perspectives of panelists who have run dozens of hackathons to those who have run just one and those panelists who represent the gamut of educational institutions from a four-year university to a community college.

This panel will discuss how colleges around Northeast Ohio and beyond create unique programming with students in mind. Panelists will share their experiences with hackathon competitions and provide tangible takeaways to implement this programming on your campus or within your community.

Identify the unique aspects of your institution and student body to determine how to create a hackathon that is original and tailored to your specific goals.

Join us for this open question-and-answer session as we determine how hackathons can solve big problems with local creativity!


Matt Poyle, Lorain County Community College (Moderator)
Zach Mikrut, Kent State University
Ravi Brahmbhatt, Houston Community College

B4Advancing Inclusion in Entrepreneurship Ecosystems

Entrepreneurship remains an area where women and other groups are under-represented. Research has shown it is a complex problem that requires equally complex solutions. This session will examine evidence-based change strategies for increasing the participation of women in entrepreneurship. The panel will  include multiple perspectives on the problem and will share strategies and approaches that have proven to be effective. Participants will learn from a series of short presentations (10 minutes each) including:

•An introduction to the problem of under representation of women and diverse entrepreneurs including the role of culture and stereotypes, access to financing, and other barriers (Dr. Suzanne Gagnon, University of Manitoba)

•A discussion of a framework for advancing inclusive innovation and Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (Dr. Wendy Cukier, Ryerson University)

•Case Study: approaches to supporting women and diverse entrepreneurs (Zohreh Hassannezhad, Ryerson University)

4. Case Study: Oregon State University Innovation X Centre of Excellence Presenter TBD

5. Case Study: Arizona State University (ASU) Presenter TBD


Dr. Wendy Cukier, (Moderator)
Dr. Michelle Marie, (Moderator)
Dr. Suzanne Gagnon,
Dr. Zohreh Hassannezhad,

B5Evolving and Innovating a Multi-University Consortium

How can you connect your student entrepreneurs to resources and experiences that take them beyond the campus? Many universities and colleges with strong entrepreneurship programs are looking to partner with companies, community organizations, and with each other!

In northeast Ohio, the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (a network of ten public universities, private universities, and a community college) has been doing this for over a decade. The Consortium’s two flagship programs have graduated hundreds of students but had remained unchanged for years. In the past 12-18 months they have been reinvented to be more impactful including two longstanding program features:

  • Entrepreneurship Immersion Week (EIW), an intensive, one-week(ish), business concept competition for undergraduates from all disciplines
  • ideaLabs, a regional pitch competition to foster student awareness and interest in business formation, as well as sharing innovative business ideas with each other

Via storytelling and specific examples, panelists will share the process for how these two  program linchpins were re-imagined to expand student participation, provide greater exposure, and create more community connections. In addition, you will learn about the new “Side Hustle” virtual program EEC is piloting this summer in response to the pandemic.


Reka Barabas, Entrepreneurship Education Consortium (Moderator)
Lori Long, EEC Board Chair, Baldwin Wallace University
Ed Buchholz, Start in CLE
Hannah Schlueter, Baldwin Wallace University
Zach Mikrut,, Kent State University
Colette Taddy Hart, Cleveland State University

B6Helping student entrepreneurs identify problems worth solving and become innovative thinkers

Too often in entrepreneurship education, we see that students struggle to identify business ideas that tackle real unmet market needs.

This session will explore several models for supporting student entrepreneurship by helping students find “problems worth solving” and accelerate the process of identifying business ideas with strong potential for success.

Panelists from Penn State University, Michigan State University, and UNC – Chapel Hill will discuss their methods for tackling this problem through STEM-focused multi-disciplinary team formation, corporate partnerships, technology innovation and commercialization, as well as other strategies.


Ted Zoller, Kenan-Flagler Entrepreneurship Center (Moderator)
T.W. Lewis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Moderator)
Sadan Kulturel-Konak, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (CEED) Center
Ken Szymusiak, Michigan State University
Jason Doherty, Kenan-Flagler Entrepreneurship Center

B7Creating Transformative Student Experiences in a Vertical Campus World

Nearly every university in the nation has started innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives in the last decade. Many originated in specific schools or departments with the common goal of serving students and faculty from across campus despite the limitations embedded in the structure of higher education institutions.

This panel will discuss the recent movement away from technical approaches to innovation and entrepreneurship education and toward the creation of adaptive campus “spaces” to meet the needs of students, faculty and the communities we serve. Models for student innovation that support greater social, economic and environmental impact will also be shared. We’ll address the challenges of developing and sustaining offerings that are not associated with a specific scholarly home, but rather live “in-between disciplinary silos” such as curricular and co-curricular; undergraduate and graduate; faculty and staff; humanities and STEM; economic development and community engagement, and more, by addressing some key questions including:

How do we encourage multi-disciplinary scholarly engagement in this emerging space for students, faculty, staff and community?

What structures lend themselves to transformative break-throughs in pursuit of achieving positive social, environmental and economic impact?

How are student programs connected in a campus ecosystem and what are the challenges in creating horizontal collaborations while working in a vertical world?

How does structure enable culture shifts towards greater innovation and entrepreneurship on campus?

What evaluation protocols, both short and long-term, need to be employed to determine that learning outcomes and impacts are being met?

Finally, the pandemic of COVID-19 has brought about important considerations as to how we adapt the innovation model to the moment, especially when it is likely students will be less able to congregate in maker spaces, labs, and innovation hubs. What might we learn from the models discussed today as we head into the future?


Elizabeth Benefield, North Carolina State University
Melissa Carrier, University of North Carolina
Robert Shandley, Texas A&M University

B8Campus-wide: Shifting Entrepreneurship from the Perimeter to the Core

The world has changed in ways that now require everyone to think like an entrepreneur, regardless of their chosen path. If we are to adapt and thrive amidst an ever-changing world, educators, organizational leaders, policymakers and community stakeholders must recognize the power of entrepreneurial thinking as a teachable framework that not only optimizes our individual and collective ability to adapt but is also essential for creating societies of the future. As such, entrepreneurship education initiatives have exploded within colleges and communities, yet the vast majority are limited to new venture creation and do not acknowledge the broader benefits of entrepreneurial thinking. 

There is no more important time for entrepreneurial thinking to be utilized, maximized, and integrated into higher education than right now. It may be particularly essential at liberal arts colleges, most of which face unprecedented challenges in attracting and retaining students, constructing digitally-enabled classes, and stemming the financial hemorrhaging caused by the need for virtual instruction. 

The panelists will begin with a brief discussion of the entrepreneurial mindset imperative as well as some of the barriers that inhibit our individual and collective ability to adapt. From there, they will facilitate a group discussion around these questions. 

  • How do we shift entrepreneurship from the perimeter to the core of our universities, communities, and ultimately our culture? 
  • What are the broader benefits of entrepreneurship education beyond new business creation?
  • What are the institutional and societal barriers that inhibit our ability to create this shift?


Gary Schoeniger, Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative (ELI)
Bara Watts, Oberlin College

Track C: University Research Commercialization and Startups

C1Springboard Atlantic: Canadian Universities and Colleges Collectively Impacting Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education

Atlantic Canada, representing four of the country’s provinces, includes a population of about 2,300,000 people in a geographic area that covers  193,051 miles.

Springboard Atlantic, formed in 2005, is a network representing over 30 professionals in Atlantic Canada who are embedded in the Industry Engagement and Technology Transfer offices of nineteen universities and colleges, and who are supported by a central office of six staff members. The network enables and facilitates the creation of startups and high-potential firms, and advances innovation among strategic industry sectors throughout the region. Springboard Atlantic is financially supported by the nineteen member institutions and the federal government.

While each member may have different reporting structures and policies, they work as an extended team to complement and support  each other’s opportunities. For example, if a participating institution does not have the right R&D expertise to meet the needs of a partner company, a match will be sought through other members. By working collaboratively,  post-secondary institutions in Atlantic Canada are breaking down silos and advancing opportunities for the benefit of the whole region.

In the previous funding phase (2014-2017), Springboard members supported 6,237 industry research contracts contributing to their institution’s estimated $1B (Canadian) in research activity, and helped to create 149 new startups. In this panel we will share metrics from the current phase (2017-2019), in addition to providing an introduction to Springboard, its genesis, organizational structure, funding programs, and an overview of the extensive work and cultural shifts necessary to ensure its success. 

Suggestions for concrete actions to create a similar model in other regions will be provided. In addition, we will be highlighting three institutions with very different structures and their innovative approaches to technology commercialization and entrepreneurship. The presentations will be engaging, packed with examples, and will allow discussion throughout the session.


Daryl Genge, Springboard Atlantic (Moderator)
Dr. Paula Mendonça, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Dr. Justin Moores, University of Prince Edward Island
Beth McCormack, Nova Scotia Community College

C2The Latest Trends in Entrepreneurship and Why They Matter to You

Is entrepreneurship in decline? How will the VC industry address its lack of diversity? How can the government and regulators learn from the past to introduce new policies that will stimulate growth?

In this session, we will review the latest trends in entrepreneurship recently compiled by the UNC Kenan-Flagler Entrepreneurship Center and the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise in our Inaugural Trends in Entrepreneurship Report. The report provides timely insights into topics that significantly affect entrepreneurs, funders, ecosystem partners, policymakers, and others in the innovation economy.

The session will include:

  • Elizabeth Brake, COO of Venture for America, providing a brief history of innovation and its evolution
  • Michelle Bolas, Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation Strategy and Programs at UNC-Chapel Hill, sharing a case study on student and faculty innovation in response to the coronavirus pandemic
  • Vickie Gibbs, Executive Director of the UNC Entrepreneurship Center, covering highlights from the Trends in Entrepreneurship Report
  • Elizabeth Brake sharing the tangible ways Venture for America is translating the report findings into action in the organization’s messaging, impact evaluation and strategy

The session will conclude with an open Q&A session. Prior to attending, participants are encouraged to download the full report. or summary of the report, at frontiers.unc.edu.


Vickie Gibbs, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Elizabeth Brake, Venture for America
Michelle Bolas, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Moderator)

C3Hacking Virtual Mentorship: Methods to Jumpstart Real Relationships in a Remote World

Mentorship is the cornerstone of many university entrepreneurship programs. However, since success hinges on being able to connect the right students to the right mentors around the right topics, there can be a struggle to find the best ways for mentorship to take place within our entrepreneurial programs. COVID-19 has further complicated this challenge with the need for remote interactions. 

In this session, we will explore how to support students pursuing an entrepreneurial career path by building a thriving mentorship ecosystem using virtual and digital methods. 

Jill Willett, Director of the Adams Apprenticeship, a yearlong program at UNC to build entrepreneurial skills and mindset, will share some of the unique ways UNC is matching and facilitating connections among students and mentors, and how those methods have evolved over the last few months to account for  remote engagement. 

Gabe Gonzalez, Program Manager at the Entrepreneurship Clinic at North Carolina State University, will share some examples of how mentors and students use technology to connect in a digital way and what they’re saying about their experiences. He’ll also share the structure NC State leverages at their in-person meetups and how physical and digital data can produce actionable insights. 

Max Leisten, CEO of Protopia, will share how universities such as Duke and NC State are using Protopia’s AI platform to connect students and alumni, resulting in stronger mentor engagement. 

Tabitha Messmore, advisor at LaunchNET’s Venture Initiatives at Kent State University, will provide details on their Flash Mentor program and their adoption of a new online technology, Wisr, to help build their online community.


Tabitha Messmore, Kent State University
Jill Willett, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Moderator)
Gabriel Gonzalez, North Carolina State University
Max Leisten, Protopia

C4Mind the Gap: Bridging the Gap Between Research and Impact

The results of fundamental and applied research generated by universities often have little to no impact on society. Why?

In many cases, the research both contributes to our fundamental knowledge and understanding, and provides a foundation for innovations that could benefit society.  Unfortunately, there is often a gap between the research result, and the translation of the findings into a solution to a societal problem, along with a business and financial model that is investable.

Recently, universities have stepped up to the challenge by creating new academic or co-curricular programs, entrepreneurship centers, incubators, and accelerators, to nurture entrepreneurs to bridge the gap between research and impact. This workshop will invite several universities who have created innovative programs that bridge this gap to share their experiences and outcomes, and help build community among all those who aspire to accelerate the translation of research to societal impact.


Beth Deuermeyer, Texas A&M
Barry Rosenbaum, University of Akron
Dhirendra Shukla, University of New Brunswick
Greg Bavington/Jim McClellan, Queen’s University
Kevin Oye, Tufts University

C5Beyond the Lemonade Stand: Best Practices in Creating Real Companies

This panel will discuss techniques used to work with undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty researchers, and others on sustainable business creation.  Participants will gain insights from a diverse set of panelists and the breadth of their experiences. 

Each panelist will describe how they established an ideation process within their entrepreneurial and innovation offerings, and how that ideation process became a fundamental component for everything that followed in servicing the startups. The intent is to draw clear linkages between the initial steps of ideation with students, researchers and innovators (often university-based), to successful startup experiences as evidenced by market traction, capital funding and company growth. 

The broader discussion will look at the continuum of the following elements: identification of solvable problems, ideation of solutions, market and competitor analysis, product development, business plan development, market validation and testing, finance, launch, evaluation, and scaling.  The panel will review both formal and informal educational opportunities, as well as the mentoring that helps students build operational businesses. 


Thomas Sudow, Ashland University (Moderator)
John Hanak, Purdue University (Moderator)
John Gebhard, University of Texas
Kathleen Sohar, University of Florida

C6Beyond the Books: Libraries Pivot to Role as Hub in the Innovation Ecosystem

The goal of this session is to facilitate a dialogue on how campus libraries are evolving as the nexus of entrepreneurship. As many universities prioritize building and growing an innovation ecosystem, libraries are uniquely positioned as an ideal partner. Not only are libraries historically a central and popular gathering space on their campuses, they also offer deep expertise in information and technology, substantial resources, and experience connecting people across silos.

This joint panel of library and entrepreneurship leaders from three different universities will introduce examples of how the library fits into the innovation ecosystem at their institutions. This session will not be a traditional panel presentation, heavily focused on one way communication, but rather it will include time for attendee brainstorming and interaction through polls, forms, and chat. Additionally, we will showcase some of our libraries’ successes through video that will guide attendees through actual programs, partnerships, and initiatives.

Through this interactive panel presentation, participants will come away aware of the libraries’ potential as a space and partner, and inspired with new ideas and avenues to pursue at their institutions.


Carissa Tomlinson, University of Minnesota Libraries
Danya Leebaw, University of Minnesota Libraries
Ken Burhanna , Kent State University Libraries
Julie Messing, Kent State University
William K. Langston, Michigan State University

C7Sr Fellows, Retired Industry Executives, build strategic entrepreneurial culture and ecosystems at urban research university

The University of Akron (UA) is developing a new 3-year strategic plan. One of the major themes is to capitalize on potential income-generating opportunities through external partnerships with regional businesses. The University of Akron Research Foundation (UARF), through its team of Senior Fellows, is facilitating partnership agreements by tapping into its existing network and through the development of business models that create value for all parties.

Senior Fellows are retired business executives who provide support to UARF on a pro bono basis to drive a more entrepreneurial culture, creating economic value from university research capabilities while simultaneously addressing high impact regional challenges and opportunities.


Barry Rosenbaum, The University of Akron Research Foundation
Gordon Schorr, UARF ( former marketing director at Goodyear )
Wil Hemker, UARF ( former Technology Lead at GoJo )
Paul Boulier, UARF ( former VP Marketing at A Schulman )
Art Greenberg, UARF ( former executive at Diamond Shamrock and SIFCO Industries )
Elyse Ball, UARF I Corps Impresario

C8Innovation and Entrepreneurship: A Seismic Shift in Promotion and Tenure

There has never been a better time to discuss some of the key impediments to faculty engaging in innovation and entrepreneurial activities that can make the United States more globally competitive such as:

  • Increasing research impact through commercialization activities
  • Teaching innovation and entrepreneurial skills with the intent of making students career resilient
  • Working with industry and economic development groups to advance the innovation economy

In this session, you’ll learn about a national effort to change the current paradigm. Panelists will discuss the current state of innovation and entrepreneurship activities at their respective institutions and engage in a conversation on the impact – or lack thereof – of these activities on promotion and tenure (P&T) guidelines.

The input from attendees in this session will inform the perspective of panelists who will be attending a Summit in Washington D.C. September 16 – 18. This gathering is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and led by Oregon State University. The Summit will bring together provosts, vice presidents of research, deans of engineering and members of the National Academies, ATUM, APLU, Venturewell and NSF I-Corps, to work on outcomes that can affect P&T criteria at R1s, M1s, PUIs, HBCU, HSIs and Tribal colleges and universities.



Paola Sztajn, NC State
Justin Streuli, North Carolina Entrepreneurship Center
Joseph Hartman, Umass Lowell
Almesha Campbell, Jackson State Univ

Track D: Emerging Trends

D3Three Ways to Leverage the Library to Boost Your Entrepreneurship Program

Whether your entrepreneurship program runs lean or has abundant resources, you can leverage the library to get access to needed information, research support, instructional content, or to gain a better understanding of your population.

Libraries support entrepreneurs in identifying funding sources, competitors, market research, and industry research to build a better business. However, entrepreneurship ecosystems vary widely in research needs, and the libraries that support them need to develop resources to best meet their needs.

Hear from panelists at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, and Cornell University on how libraries contribute to their entrepreneurship ecosystems. Panelists will discuss using customer discovery to learn about the entrepreneurship community, teaching entrepreneurs about ethos and ethics, and crossing over from library support to entrepreneurship program staff.


Christina Sheley, Cornell University (Moderator)
Kae Bara Kratcha, Columbia University
Rachel Holder, Cornell University
Cathy Ogur, University of Pennsylvania