Record Attendance at Virtual Deshpande Symposium

If there is a silver lining to the pandemic, it is increased conference access and attendance, as experienced with the 9th Annual Deshpande Symposium on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education held June 11 and 12. Originally planned to be convened in Cleveland, the virtual conference had record attendance, with over 1,200 participants tuning in from six continents and representing more than 400 colleges and universities, far surpassing the typical attendance of 300 from 90 to 100 institutions it has experienced in previous years.

The annual symposium, offered by the Deshpande Foundation and University of Massachusetts Lowell in collaboration with Burton D. Morgan Foundation as co-presenter, provides an opportunity for entrepreneurship practitioners and researchers to share experiences, gain exposure to ideas, and collaborate on activities that help accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship in colleges and universities across the country and around the world.

The twenty-four conference panel sessions were categorized in three tracks:  Entrepreneurial Universities: Culture and Ecosystems, Entrepreneurship in the Curriculum, and University Research Commercialization & Startups.  Keynote speakers included Daniel Isenberg, founding executive director of the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Platform and adjunct professor at Columbia Business School and Lauren Washington, cofounder and COO of Black Women Talk Tech, the largest membership organization and only conference for black women founders.  All panel sessions and keynotes were recorded and will be integrated with their associated presentations into a virtual Deshpande Symposium Proceedings, and then made available to attendees in the coming weeks.

“This symposium has become a leading forum for higher-education innovators to share, to learn and to connect with like-minded colleagues who are working to transform their campuses, their communities and the world at large,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, who co-founded the event with Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, successful entrepreneur and co-founder of the Deshpande Foundation. “Given the health, environmental and economic issues facing all of us, it is more important than ever that we embrace innovation and entrepreneurship to expand our broader impact and find solutions to these challenges.”

Burton D. Morgan Foundation plans to co-present the conference in June 2021 in Cleveland, in collaboration with Deshpande Foundation and University of Massachusetts Lowell, with the support of many generous sponsors from Northeast Ohio and beyond.

Foundation President and CEO Deborah Hoover commented, “Burton D. Morgan Foundation has been a longtime supporter of Deshpande Symposium, and we were thrilled that in 2020, despite the need to pivot to a virtual format, we were able to welcome hundreds of participants to join in sharing and learning via Whova and Zoom. We will be equally thrilled in 2021 to welcome colleagues in person to Northeast Ohio where the region’s entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem awaits!”