call for proposals



Lead the conversation around innovation & entrepreneurship by preparing a session proposal for OPEN 2019. Our sessions are highly interactive and provide participants with relevant content and practical tools that they can apply in their own work. We invite you to help shape the future of science & technology innovation and entrepreneurship next March by proposing a session today.

Our OPEN conference gathers together engaged faculty, administrators, global innovators and university students from across disciplines to network, share stories, start new collaborations and learn emerging best practices in technology entrepreneurship education.

Session presenters, facilitators, and moderators receive a discount off our standard registration fee.

Key Dates

Tuesday, August 21

Extended: Wednesday, October 10

Tuesday, November 27

Confirmation of Acceptance:
Friday, December 7

March 28-30, 2019

Session Descriptions

We are seeking diverse ideas and perspectives for conference sessions in 5 topical categories (or tracks) in 5 interactive format types. Break-out sessions are 75 minutes in length. And, we encourage proposals for sessions that feature students as panelists or co-presenters.


OPEN Minis are quick, dynamic, 6-minute presentations that are gathered into themed clusters of 4 Minis in a single 75-minute breakout. It is an effective and engaging way to share research findings or case studies. Your OPEN Mini presentation will be grouped together with 3 other Minis that are loosely related to a similar theme or topic. Your Open Mini presentation will follow the Ignite style in which you have a maximum of 15 slides that automatically advance every 20 seconds. Each of the 4 Minis in the breakout are presented in rapid succession; next, presenters hold a 20-minute all-group Q&A; then, each presenter hosts a focused “world cafe” type 20-minute Q&A on their topic. OPEN Minis may have no more than 2 presenters each.

OPEN Exchanges are facilitated conversations among all attendees centered on a particular theme or purpose. If you want to lead a discussion around nifty ideas, unique approaches, challenges faced, etc., select this format. It is ideal for generating a white paper or laying groundwork for ongoing collaborations. Open Exchanges may have 1-2 facilitators and should be designed for 90% attendee discussion.

Workshops are immersive learning sessions that emphasize learning-by-doing. Attendees can expect to leave with tools, plans, activities, or work-product they can immediately use back home. Workshops may have up to a maximum of 4 facilitators.

Panels at OPEN might look like a traditional panel session, but in practice are different. We expect panelists to coordinate with each other to present different perspectives on the specified topic and, together with a skillful moderator, to facilitate and synthesize discussion. This is not for serial presentations showcasing your work — consider proposing an OPEN Mini for that — but for sharing, comparing, and synthesizing experiences and insights between panelists. Panels may have up to 4 panelists plus 1 moderator (a maximum of 5 in total).

Posters enable presenters to share their projects with interested colleagues during the dynamic 90-minute Poster Session and Reception on Friday evening. Posters may have up to 2 presenters (faculty and/or students).


We are looking for sessions that will catalyze learning and collaboration across I&E ecosystems within the following 5 topical tracks.

Tackling Society’s Biggest Problems through Innovation
How might we use invention, product design, and business model innovation to tenaciously address pressing and complex challenges, such as climate change, water scarcity, ocean health, food security, and equitable healthcare? Or, vice versa– how can addressing these problems engage students to become life-long innovators in their respective disciplines? Topics include metrics and outcomes methodologies, lessons learned for effective international collaborations, activities that spur ideation and empathy across contexts, or ways to integrate impact, business, and technical development in the curriculum. This track is for everyone who wants to make sure that students and society feel the impact long after the course is over.

Expanding Participation in STEM Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Underrepresentation of women, people of color, first-generation college students, transfer students, and student veterans within the science and technology innovation and entrepreneurship community is a loss not just for students, but for society overall. Topics include approaches and strategies that can attract, engage, and support diverse student participation in science and technology I&E, such as lessons-learned for structuring mentoring programs, research on what is working in the classroom, faculty peer-coaching models, overcoming bias in startup funding, and what can be done to further expand inclusion.

Entrepreneurial Mindset & Innovation Culture
This track puts the focus on strategies for breaking down academic silos, building an innovation culture on campus, preparing students for jobs of the future, and defining appropriate metrics for impact. Topics in this track can include best practices and nifty activities for cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset, tactics for navigating (and revising) entrenched policies, building cross-disciplinary community with skeptical peers, developing soft-skills through group projects, and methodologies for assessment of student outcomes.

Venture Development and University Spin-Outs
This track focuses on the experiences and strategies that set the conditions for bringing innovations out of the lab (or workshop, or studio), and into the world. Topics in this track can include best practices for training early stage innovators, navigating tech transfer, building and deploying university- or alumni- funded investment vehicles for student entrepreneurs, alternative/non-VC funding pathways, recruiting and managing mentors, ways to mitigate (or accelerate) failure, and more.

Ecosystem Development through Off-Campus and Cross-Campus Partnerships
Savvy institutions are leveraging cross-campus and off-campus collaborations to improve success rates and amplify the impact of their innovation initiatives.  Topics can include increasing capacity for I&E at the national level through engaging with corporate open-innovation, structuring collaborations with local economic development agencies, or the ins-and-outs of building regional innovation hubs between institutions, (such as I-Corps Nodes). This track will emphasize transformative approaches to building I&E activity in the US and around the world, fostering government, university, and industry support of innovation ecosystems or building regional collaborations to support emerging innovators.

How to Apply

All proposal materials must be submitted through VentureWell’s online tool. Deadline for submissions is 11:59pm Eastern Time on the October 10, 2018. To start, you’ll need to have or create a VentureWell account. To access an existing account or to create a new one, go here: Then log in, find the Call for Proposals link and complete the steps!

To create and submit your proposal, you will need to complete the following:

  • Proposed session title. Make it provocative and compelling!
  • Additional session contributors (if you know)
    • Target audience: Beginners, Advanced, All; Administrators, Faculty, Students, Other
    • Preferred format type: mini, exchange, workshop, panel, or poster. If you do not have a preference, or are not sure, please say so and we’ll choose what we think will work best for your session.
  • A description of your proposed session. Include the objectives and what you hope attendees will take away from the session. Please limit your description to 150 words.
  • A brief description of what your core goal for the session.  
  • Applicants will be notified and advised of next steps by November 27, 2018

Questions? Email us at


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