call for proposals

OPEN 2020

Lead the conversation around innovation & entrepreneurship at OPEN 2020. 

The OPEN 2020 Poster Session and Reception provides a unique opportunity for attendees and interested colleagues to have thoughtful, in-depth conversations with dozens of students and faculty about their projects. The dynamic, 90-minute session allows presenters to gain valuable feedback on their idea, helping them fine-tune their project or research. We invite you to join us in leading the conversation around innovation & entrepreneurship by preparing a poster proposal for OPEN 2020.

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.

The Poster Session and Reception will take place on the evening of Thursday, March 19. Posters may have up to 2 presenters (faculty and/or students). Poster presenters will receive a discount off our standard registration fee.

Applicants will be notified and advised of next steps in late December/early January.  

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Key Dates

Call for Posters Deadline:
December 20

Call for Posters Notification:
Early January

March 19-21, 2020

Session Descriptions

We are seeking diverse ideas and perspectives for conference sessions in 6 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.

Track Descriptions

  • Empowering Equity and Inclusion in Innovation & Entrepreneurship Education
  • Preparing Students to be Ethical Entrepreneurs
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research: Practices, Collaborations, and Learnings
  • Tackling Environmental Challenges: Supporting Sustainability in Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Collaborating for Impact: Fostering Startup Ecosystems in Higher Education
  • Entrepreneurial Mindset: Effective Practices and Approaches

Empowering Equity and Inclusion in Innovation & Entrepreneurship Education: Our society as a whole is increasingly diverse, and yet, entrepreneurship courses and campus programs are often disproportionately populated by white males. Similarly, traditional entrepreneurship models and funding pathways structurally disadvantage historically low-resourced communities, and the institutions and students who reside within them. For this program track, we want to explore how we can work to increase inclusion in entrepreneurship, i.e. ensure that underrepresented minority participants, first-generation college students, women, and other under-engaged participants are represented and that their success is supported in ways that overcome historical exclusions. Sessions submitted under this track might include strategies for expanding the diversity of students who identify as innovators or entrepreneurs, approaches for ensuring the success of under-represented students, and models for engaging and supporting institutions and entrepreneurs in ways that are reflective of their communities.

Preparing Students to be Ethical Entrepreneurs
In recent years several high-profile technology startups have received unwelcome media attention due to their unethical practices. As innovation and entrepreneurship educators, how might we teach values and ethics in a way that encourages the development of entrepreneurs who will consider the social and environmental impact of their enterprises? How do we cultivate a practice of ethical decision-making in a culture that otherwise can encourage ethical shortcuts in an effort to increase the likelihood of economic success? Sessions for this track will emphasize pedagogical practices, and curricular innovations and resources that foster an ethics-based mindset among developing entrepreneurs.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Research: Practices, Collaborations, and Learnings
Today Innovation and Entrepreneurship education is a given on most university campuses, as evidenced by the many courses and programs, and myriad extracurricular supports like pitch contests, makerspaces, and accelerators. But which approaches work best and why, and how do we know that broadly accepted adages like “fail fast” do indeed yield improved outcomes?  For this track we invite you to share your entrepreneurship education research findings which may range from initial observations to more extensive studies with validated instruments. We are also interested in hearing proven practices for pursuing entrepreneurship education research, and would like to support sessions that will help early-stage researchers hone their research questions and methodologies, and find cross-campus collaborators.   

Tackling Environmental Challenges:  Supporting Sustainability in Innovation and Entrepreneurship
How might we use invention, product design, and business model innovation to tenaciously address humanity’s pressing environmental challenges including climate change, pollution, water and waste management, energy production, deforestation and ocean health? Sessions for this track will address promising practices for integrating sustainability principles into innovation and entrepreneurship courses and programs, including the identification and inclusion of fundamental knowledge, content, skills, and experiences. We encourage sessions covering how to amplify this work, which might include strategies for garnering institutional buy-in, fostering external partnerships, and leveraging on- and off-campus communities, such as student groups, professional societies, etc.

Collaborating for Impact: Fostering Startup Ecosystems in Higher Education
To effectively support student innovation, a robust startup ecosystem is needed that transcends campus silos and extends beyond university walls. Sessions in this track will address strategies for fostering a cross-campus entrepreneurship culture including interdisciplinary collaborations, the integration of entrepreneurship into university mission and policies, and faculty-student collaborations. We encourage sessions that address the development of regional and national ecosystems including regional economic development, industry-university partnerships, working with philanthropies and government agencies to support your work, and building regional hubs between institutions, such as I-Corps nodes.

Entrepreneurial Mindset: Effective Practices and Approaches
Many students in entrepreneurship programs or classes may never start a venture, but the concepts learned and developed there can prepare them to be more successful in the job market and in their lives. Topics in this track may include best practices and nifty activities for cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset, developing soft-skills through group projects, and methodologies for assessment of student outcomes.


OPEN Minis are dynamic 6-minute presentations (with no more than two presenters each), gathered into themed clusters of four in a single 75-minute breakout. Each Mini is presented in rapid succession, followed by two 20-minute rounds of small group conversations/Q&A with each presenter facilitating the discussion at their table.

1001 Ideas are opportunities to gather the thinking of all session attendees on a specific topic or challenge. The facilitators will kick off the conversation, then pass the mic to other attendees to share their perspectives and experiences. 

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 four facilitators.

Panels provide an opportunity for up to three panelists and one moderator to share and compare their contrasting experiences on a single topic. Each panelist presents a different perspective on the specified topic and the moderator skillfully facilitates the discussion. 

Posters enable presenters to share their projects with a wide range of 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).

For detailed information on session formats, please view the CFP.

How to Apply

All proposal materials must be submitted through VentureWell’s online tool. Deadline for submissions has been extended 11:59pm Eastern Time on September 25, 2019. 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 presenters and facilitators 
  • Track selection
  • Target audience: Who will benefit from this session? (Administrators, Faculty, Students, Other)
  • Experience level: Please select the category that best describes how much experience attendees should have with the topic—Introductory, Advanced, Open to all.  
  • Preferred format type: Mini, 1001 Ideas, 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. What will happen in your session? What can attendees expect? Please limit your description to 150 words.
  • Key takeaways and goals for your session: What will attendees take away from your session?  What outcomes will your session achieve? 
  • Is the work you’ll be sharing the result/outcome of a VentureWell faculty grant?

Applicants will be notified and advised of next steps by October 31, 2019.
Questions? Email us at

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