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Deshpande Symposium Announces Finalists for National Awards

Higher Education Institutions to be Honored for Innovation, Entrepreneurship at Event

Gururaj Deshpande
Gururaj "Desh" Deshpande is one of the founders of the Deshpande Symposium.


Media contacts: Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 or and Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944 or

LOWELL, Mass. – The Deshpande Symposium organizers today announced the finalists for national awards that will be given next month in recognition of innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education. 

More than 300 people representing higher education institutions and businesses from across North America are expected to attend the sixth annual Deshpande Symposium on Innovation and Entrepreneurship from June 12 to June 14. The conference will be held at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren St., Lowell.  The annual symposium is hosted by the Deshpande Foundation and UMass Lowell.

The keynote speakers for this year’s symposium include Ethernet inventor and University of Texas Austin Professor of Innovation Robert Metcalfe; Jerome Engel, Silicon Valley veteran and founding executive director emeritus of the University of California Berkeley’s Lester Center for Entrepreneurship; and Worcester Polytechnic Institute President Laurie Leshin. 

Topics of this year’s symposium include university research commercialization and startups, developing entrepreneurial universities, entrepreneurship in the curriculum and more. For a full conference schedule and registration information (early registration ends May 15), visit

The Deshpande Symposium Awards recognize outstanding accomplishment in three areas that promote innovation and entrepreneurship on college and university campuses. The awards also celebrate individuals for their outstanding contributions to the field and institutions that demonstrate excellence and serve as a role models for others. 

“These awards highlight the significant commitment that colleges and universities across North America make in support of innovation and entrepreneurship. Successful businesses and entrepreneurs don’t just happen, they are supported by networks of people and organizations that believe in their concept and energy and provide guidance, support and resources along the path to success,” said Steven Tello, co-chairman of the conference and UMass Lowell’s senior associate vice chancellor of entrepreneurship and economic development. “The Deshpande Symposium Awards shine a spotlight of recognition on the institutions that champion, pilot and provide this support.”

This year, a record number of nominations – more than three dozen for five awards – were received from institutions of all sizes from the U.S. and Canada resulting in strong candidates for each honor. The panel of judges for the awards consists of Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun; Carnegie Mello University President Subra Suresh; Arizona State University President Michael Crow; UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney; Desh Deshpande, founder of the Deshpande Foundation; and Raj Melville, executive director of the Deshpande Foundation. 

The finalists for the Deshpande Symposium Awards in each of the five award categories are:

  • Excellence in Curriculum Innovation in Entrepreneurship, which recognizes an institution for offering innovative educational courses and programs to foster entrepreneurship education – the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, University of Michigan Medical School and Purdue University;
  • Excellence in Student Engagement in Entrepreneurship, which recognizes an institution that encourages student leadership and engagement and supports the development of entrepreneurial awareness, skills and practice – Kent State University, Ohio University and the University of New Hampshire;
  • Exemplary Practice in Technology Commercialization, which recognizes an institution for comprehensive programs that accelerate innovations into commercialization – Georgia Research Alliance, University of South Florida and Case Western Reserve University; 
  • Outstanding Contributions to Advancing Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education, which is awarded to the individual who has demonstrated extraordinary achievements to entrepreneurship in higher education – the finalists represent the University of Akron Research Foundation, the University of Michigan Medical School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill;
  • The Entrepreneurial University, which recognizes an institution that demonstrates overall excellence in innovation and entrepreneurship – Ryerson University, Northeastern University and Cornell University.

The award recipients will be announced at a ceremony at the Deshpande Symposium on Tuesday, June 13. The top three finalists in each category will have displays on their notable work in innovation and entrepreneurship education at the ceremony, which will also feature a performance by the nationally recognized Angkor Dance Troupe, founded by Lowell’s Cambodian community in 1986.

The Deshpande Symposium brings together professionals from academia, the public sector and business to discuss best practices in integrating entrepreneurship throughout college and university communities. 

UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its more than 17,500 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.