Shaping the Future of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Deshpande Symposium

Shaping the Future of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Deshpande Symposium; images of past Deshpande Symposium events and participants

Last year, almost 200 academics, policy planners, and practitioners across the innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) higher education ecosystem convened at Arizona State University for the 12th Annual Deshpande Symposium. Over an energizing two and a half days with inspiring keynote speakers, practical breakout session panels, and enriching networking activities, conference-goers explored the institution’s role in advancing the translation of research results from lab to market. Breakout session topics included developing entrepreneurial universities, cultures, and ecosystems; entrepreneurship in the curriculum; university research commercialization and startups; and emerging trends.

Following the conference, Deshpande attendees were asked to rate the value of the networking and engagement opportunities offered. Eighty-nine percent of participants rated the symposium as “highly valuable” or “valuable,” with 82% of respondents being “extremely likely” or “very likely” to recommend the conference to a colleague. The top reasons for attending were opportunities for networking with colleagues (71%) and discussing emerging issues and trends (69%).

As we prepare for this year’s Deshpande Symposium, which is set to take place at the University of Maryland from June 12 to June 14, we asked past participants to determine what they found most valuable about the conference. Four key reasons were identified:

Discussion-based panel format allowed for a deeper understanding of content.

Shaping the Future of Innovation and Entrepreneurship aAt the Deshpande Symposium; photo of past attendees at a sessionInstead of lecture-based formats, panel sessions were designed to be structured more like workshops—a unique feature of the Symposium. This allowed room for deep discussion among participants, hands-on experience opportunities, and a question and answer portion to further expand on lessons learned. “This was particularly valuable,” wrote one attendee. “I also highly valued that the community was so welcoming and open. This is very hard to do, and is driven by the leadership.”

The Call for Proposals for the 13th Annual Deshpande Symposium is accepting submissions until January 31, 2024. Learn more and apply now.

“We have an exciting agenda planned for the Deshpande Symposium this year,” said VentureWell Program Director of Federal Innovation Tara Loomis. “Attendees will plug into new regional ecosystem–building opportunities, navigate disruptions, and define paths forward, and adapt with an ever evolving globally connected community.”

Focus on current opportunities and challenges in building an I&E regional ecosystem right now.

Thought leaders like Natalie Madeira Cofield and Philip Gaskin led four plenary sessions, introducing inspiring conversations that allowed attendees to come away with content they can leverage in their own work. “The knowledge and idea exchange between attendees, speakers, and panelists was extremely valuable,” wrote one participant.

In particular, Cofield challenged attendees to consider whether their institutions were being entrepreneurial. She conveyed the need for colleges and universities to operationalize their entrepreneurial ethos, asserting that an entrepreneurial institution must embody four functions: educators of entrepreneurs, agents for commercialized innovation, universities as an enterprise, universities as an ecosystem.

During a lunch plenary, attendees also explored the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus. Access to knowledge, research opportunities, and diversity in teaching teams were explored in order to create a stronger representation of program participants and students.

Smaller conference size allowed for personal one-to-one networking opportunities.

Shaping the Future of Innovation and Entrepreneurship aAt the Deshpande Symposium; past attendees at a sessionSpace was intentionally made to encourage partnership throughout the conference with both formal and informal networking sessions. Attendees were able to forge new connections and discover solutions to common challenges. This allowed for many dynamic, impromptu conversations. “The smaller size of this conference was actually an asset, as it allowed for everyone to network with each other,” one participant noted. Another wrote, “The opportunity to build relationships and network with institutional stakeholders was really valuable.”

Registration is open for the 13th Annual Deshpande Symposium. Save on your ticket price by reserving your seat early! We are expecting more than 200 registrants this year, and we look forward to having you join us June 12-14, 2024, at the University of Maryland.

Leaders in the higher education I&E community are celebrated at the Awards Ceremony.

A unique highlight of the conference is the Awards Celebration, where special recognition is offered for the exemplary efforts of leaders and institutions championing I&E in their communities. This is an excellent opportunity to network and enjoy dinner with all attendees! This year, the ceremony will be held at the University of Maryland Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center, which provides an elegant atmosphere in a convenient location that is perfect for the exciting penultimate event of the Deshpande Symposium.

Nominations are being accepted now through March 1, based on four categories: Excellence in Curriculum Innovation in Entrepreneurship, Excellence in Student Engagement in Entrepreneurship, Outstanding Contributions to Advancing I&E in Higher Education, and The Entrepreneurial University. Submit your nomination today!

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