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Deshpande Symposium to Explore How Campuses Can Drive Innovation

UMass Lowell to Host International Leaders in Education, Enterprise

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In June, UMass Lowell will host the third annual Deshpande Symposium on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education. Here, Gururaj "Desh" Deshpande talks with attendees from last year's conference.


Contacts for media: Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or and Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 or
LOWELL, Mass. – Higher-education experts and leaders of venture incubators and foundations from across North America will unite at UMass Lowell next month to explore how colleges and universities can expand their roles as drivers of the innovation economy. 

The third annual Deshpande Symposium on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education is expected to draw 200 faculty, administrators, business professionals and students to the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center from June 10 to June 12. Throughout 24 sessions – presented by representatives of more than 30 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada – attendees will explore a variety of topics, from establishing an entrepreneurship curriculum and building support for campus innovation initiatives to intellectual property and university-based business incubators and accelerators.

“UMass Lowell’s growing hub of entrepreneurship and innovation serves as a launching pad for new products, services and technologies that are helping to energize and redefine the economy,” Chancellor Marty Meehan said. “The Deshpande Symposium allows us to share our excitement about our work with our peers as we collaborate on ways to maximize our respective leadership roles in the global marketplace.”        

The event is hosted by UMass Lowell and the Deshpande Foundation, which supports programs that foster entrepreneurship.

“UMass Lowell is again honored be home to this engaging symposium that looks at ways colleges and universities can leverage their resources and strengths to be catalysts for entrepreneurship on their campuses, in their communities and beyond. The sessions will offer a wonderful opportunity for conferees to review best practices, share successes and plan for challenges ahead,” said UMass Lowell Executive Vice Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney.

Along with Meehan and Moloney, speakers are scheduled to include Gregory Bialecki, Massachusetts secretary of housing and economic development; Prof. Vladimir Bulovic, an entrepreneur and associate dean for innovation at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Mary Sue Coleman, University of Michigan president. In 2010, Coleman was appointed as a co-chairman of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship along with Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, chairman of the Sparta Group LLC, and co-founder of both the foundation that bears his name and the Merrimack Valley Sandbox at UMass Lowell. The Sandbox – one of four such initiatives around the world – works to strengthen the economies of local communities, including Lowell and Lawrence. 

“The goals of UMass Lowell and the Deshpande Foundation dovetail perfectly in their commitment to develop a regional entrepreneurial culture and ecosystem,” said Steven Tello, UMass Lowell’s associate vice chancellor of entrepreneurship and economic development. “Deshpande’s commitment to the Merrimack Valley is complemented by the university’s commitment to programs that foster innovation in its many forms.”

These initiatives include UMass Lowell’s DifferenceMaker Program, which teaches students how to think like entrepreneurs and solve business, technology and social problems; the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center, a partnership with UMass Worcester that helps medical-device entrepreneurs develop products from proof-of-concept to commercialization; and the forthcoming UMass Lowell Innovation Hub, a 22,000-square-foot business incubator in downtown Lowell that will assist entrepreneurs with mentoring, research and development and accessing financial resources needed to launch their ventures.

Individuals interested in learning more or attending the symposium may visit Other event sponsors include the National Collegiate inventors & Innovators Alliance, Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, the Morgan Foundation, Babson College and the University of Massachusetts President’s Office.   

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its 17,000 students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be ready for work, for life and for all the world offers.