Institutions from Canada, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio receive awards at UMass Lowell

More than 300 people convened at UMass Lowell this week to further the role that educational institutions play in training the next generation of entrepreneurs to fuel the economy here and abroad.

An estimated 27 million Americans are starting or running new businesses and the Deshpande Symposium for Innovation and Entrepreneurship was launched by UMass Lowell and the Deshpande Foundation to support efforts to train the next generation of entrepreneurs and help startups survive and thrive.

Now in its sixth year, the symposium attracted educators from across North America and as far away as India to UMass Lowell to participate in more than two dozen sessions across four tracks – ecosystems, curriculum, commercialization and trends – and to hear from speakers including Deshpande Foundation co-founder and tech entrepreneur Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande and UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, along with Silicon Valley veteran and University of California at Berkeley Lester Center for Entrepreneurship founder Jerry Engel, Worcester Polytechnic Institute President and former NASA executive Laurie Leshin and 3Com founder and University of Texas at Austin Professor of Innovation Bob Metcalfe.

Other highlights of the three-day conference, which wraps up today, include the presentation of the annual Deshpande Symposium Awards, which were presented to four institutions and one individual in recognition of their exceptional work to advance entrepreneurial education. The panel of judges for the awards consisted of Carnegie Mellon University President Subra Suresh; Arizona State University President Michael Crow; Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun; Raj Melville, executive director of the Deshpande Foundation; and Deshpande and Moloney.

“The Deshpande Symposium, a joint effort of UMass Lowell and the Deshpande Foundation, is the place where educators and others invested in the future of entrepreneurship join forces to ensure that we are doing all we can to prepare students and assist startups for success in this important component of the global economy,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, who co-founded the symposium. “It is gratifying to see that so many institutions are engaged in these efforts and to recognize those who are leading the way with the Deshpande Symposium Awards.”

“This year’s Deshpande Symposium attracted thought leaders and organizations from across the country and Canada to examine how higher education can best organize to promote innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Steven Tello, UMass Lowell’s senior associate vice chancellor for entrepreneurship and economic development. “Our keynote speakers challenged participants to increase their engagement with students and their communities in an effort to ensure our entrepreneurial efforts support regional development. UMass Lowell is honored to host the symposium and is grateful to our partners, our sponsors and the many faculty, staff and entrepreneurs who help make the Deshpande Symposium such a success.”

“The Deshpande Symposium Awards have quickly become recognized by peer institutions for highlighting excellence in innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education,” said Melville, who oversees the awards program, which this year drew a record number of applicants from the United States, Canada and India. “The honorees represent some of the finest examples of programs, institutions and individuals that have contributed to advancing the field of entrepreneurship in higher education.”

The Excellence in Curriculum Innovation in Entrepreneurship Award, which honors an institution offering innovative educational courses and programs to foster entrepreneurship education, was presented to Purdue University.

“It is a great honor to be recognized as a leader in entrepreneurship education and wonderful that the Deshpande Symposium specifically recognizes the value of cross-campus initiatives with this prize. In 2005, we felt like pioneers in this movement, which today has gone mainstream,” said Nathalie Duval-Couetil, associate professor in technology leadership and innovation and associate director of Purdue’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship.

“Curriculum is one component, but you need an amazing team of entrepreneurial faculty, staff and students who are focused on creating value every day to achieve the scale that we have,” said Duval-Couetil, who accepted the award on behalf of Purdue.

The Excellence in Student Engagement in Entrepreneurship Award – which recognizes an institution that encourages student leadership and engagement and supports the development of entrepreneurial awareness, skills and practice – was presented to Ohio University.

“Teaching an entrepreneurial mindset to students, while also providing them with the skills and real-world experiences necessary for future success, is vital to Ohio University’s core educational mission,” said Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis. “We are very proud to be recognized by this award.”

The Exemplary Practice in Technology Commercialization Award, which recognizes an institution for comprehensive programs that accelerate innovative research into commercialization, went to the Georgia Research Alliance.

“The Georgia Research Alliance is honored to be recognized by the Deshpande Symposium for our strong commitment to building programs at multiple universities aimed at accelerating innovations from laboratories and helping to bring them to market,” said C. Michael Cassidy, president and CEO of the Georgia Research Alliance. “We are very proud to be selected alongside many of the nation’s most reputable programs for growing entrepreneurship and innovation in higher education.”

The Outstanding Contributions to Advancing Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education Award, which goes to the individual who has demonstrated extraordinary achievements in entrepreneurship in higher education, was presented to Barry Rosenbaum, senior fellow with the University of Akron Research Foundation.

“It’s been a pleasure and my honor to work with The University of Akron Research Foundation and all my friends at The University of Akron to support faculty and students in their innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives,” said Rosenbaum. “I am especially pleased with the progress we have made in our I-Corps programs both at the university site level with Elyse Ball and Dan Hampu and at the state level with the sponsorship of the Ohio Board of Higher Education for I-Corps@Ohio, the only statewide I-Corps program in the nation. I share this award with the entire entrepreneurship and innovation community at the University of Akron and its research foundation.”

The Entrepreneurial University recognizes an institution that demonstrates overall excellence in innovation and entrepreneurship. Ryerson University of Toronto, Canada was presented with this award.

“We've spent the last few days being stimulated, educated and encouraged by the incredible attendees at the Deshpande Symposium and are honored to receive The Entrepreneurial University award. Ryerson University integrates curricular and co-curricular programs to develop entrepreneurship across the institution and in our wider community. From the work of our business school, our research organizations, student groups, the DMZ and our Zone Learning network of nine other incubators, this award is the product of our dedicated faculty, staff and students,” said Ryerson University Director of Zone Learning Richard Lachman. “It's energizing to receive this recognition and we will continue, with our peer institutions here at the symposium, to create inclusive, transformative entrepreneurial experiences for our students.”

In addition to the Deshpande Foundation and UMass Lowell, the steering committee for this year’s symposium also included representatives of Arizona State University, Burton D. Morgan Foundation, Houston Community College, Middlesex Community College, Queen’s University, Rice University, University of Akron, University of North Carolina, VentureWell and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

More information about the Deshpande Symposium, including a full list of the workshops and other programs offered, is available at