UT Dallas Hosts Largest-Ever GCEC Conference, Wins ‘Entrepreneurial Leadership’ Honor for Innovation Institute

The annual conference of the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers featured more than 700 leaders from universities around the world taking part in more than 140 breakout sessions. More than a year and a half in the making, it saw the presentation of honors and awards to 12 universities—including a key honor for UTD's Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which hosted the event.

The Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers held its annual conference earlier this month at UT Dallas in Richardson, bringing leading university entrepreneurship programs together to celebrate creativity and innovation in university-based entrepreneurship education—and presenting top honors and awards to 12 universities for their entrepreneurial programs, including a big honor for UTD itself.

UTD’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship hosted the conference, which featured more than 700 leaders from universities around the world taking part in more than 140 breakout sessions. At the close of the conference, the institute won recognition as a GCEC Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. 

This year’s conference attracted its largest attendance in history, serving as the flagship event of the GCEC—which facilitates collaboration of global entrepreneurship center leaders with the goal of “advancing, strengthening, and celebrating the role universities fulfill in educating future entrepreneurs.”

A moment from GCEC Dallas 2023. [Courtesy photo]

The GCED is headquartered at the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship in Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business.

“GCEC Dallas 2023 was a year and a half in the making,” Sarah Crowe, marketing communications manager at UTD’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said in a LinkedIn post. “We broke records (sponsor engagement & attendance), won awards (Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership), oversaw 140 breakout sessions, and showcased the best of Big D to a global audience.” Crowe noted that there was even a longhorn named “Tex” at the event, to give global attendees an added measure of their geographic location.

Aiming to help grow the efforts of entrepreneurship centers worldwide

The event certainly required a lot of planning. A full year ago, Dallas Innovates wrote an advance story about the event and its global signifance. At the time, Dresden Goldberg, senior director of programs and operations for the institute, said, “We look forward to our peers from entrepreneurship centers all over the world joining us to learn, connect, grow, and better our efforts in the entrepreneurship space.”

Kaison Giles, a student at UTD’s Naveen Jindal School of Management, said in his own LinkedIn post that “GCEC brought together leading entrepreneurship centers from around the world to collaborate and celebrate their contributions and impact.” He added his appreciation “of the UTD faculty who flawlessly executed the conference, demonstrating their commitment to enhancing our educational experience.”

UT Dallas student Kaison Giles at GCEC Dallas 2023. [Courtesy photo]

Keynote speakers included Tiff’s Treats co-founders and founders from Vari and Axxess

GCEC Dallas 2023 featured keynote speakers including Tiffany and Leon Chen, co-founders of Tiff’s Treats; Jason McCann, co-founder of Vari; and John Olajide, founder and CEO of Axxess. All four shared their journeys of growing successful startups into thriving companies.

The conference brought together hundreds of leaders, executives, deans, directors and CEOs from universities around the world. A key goal was exploring how university-based entrepreneurship centers can be more effective in their methods for teaching mindsets and skills to all students. 

Breakout sessions included everything from “no-code workshops” to angel investing at Loyola University to “The Real Startup Rollercoaster,” an interactive documentary session that traced the journey of a robotics startup, offering a “raw look” at the emotional highs and lows of launching a startup.

You can’t hold a global conference in Texas without a longhorn showing up—and GCEC Dallas 2023 was no exception. [Courtesy photo]

Awards and honors presented at the conference

At the close of GCEC Dallas 2023, 12 universities were awarded top honors in nine categories and several others were commended. The 2023 GCEC awardees were as follows:

Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Center

  • Schools with less than 5,000 students: eHive at Waynesburg University
  • Schools with more than 5,000 students: Kendra Scott Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute at the University of Texas at Austin

Outstanding Contributions to Venture Creation

  • Harvard Innovation Labs at Harvard University

Exceptional Activities in Entrepreneurship Across Disciplines

  • Blackstone LaunchPad at the University of Buffalo
  • Highly Commended: Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship at Iowa State University

Excellence in Specialty Entrepreneurship Education

  • Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado, Boulder

Excellence in Entrepreneurship Teaching and Pedagogical Innovation

  • Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah

Outstanding Student Engagement and Leadership:

  • Schools with less than 5,000 students: Center for Entrepreneurship and Community Development at Loyola University New Orleans
  • Schools with greater than 5,000 students: Center for Entrepreneurship Education at Northeastern University

Exceptional Contributions in Entrepreneurship Research

  • Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship
  • Highly Commended: Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital at London Business School

Nasdaq Center of Entrepreneurial Excellence:

  • Schools with less than 5,000 students: Kirzner Entrepreneurship Center at Francisco Marroquin University; Highly Commended: Steven Dorfman Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at California Lutheran University
  • Schools with greater than 5,000 students: Coleman Entrepreneurship Center at DePaul University

GCEC Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership

  • Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas at Dallas

Legacy award

One legacy award honors an individual for their pioneering work advancing entrepreneurship in universities and/or directing a university entrepreneurship center that created a legacy impact on the field. The candidates for this award demonstrate a long-term commitment to entrepreneurship in an academic setting, achieve a standard of excellence and make a substantial impact upon students, faculty, staff, startups and/or their region. This year’s winner was Rebecca White, James W. Walter Distinguished Chair of Entrepreneurship and director of the John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Tampa.

Global GCED summit to be held in Thailand in November 2024

The GCED said that under the new leadership of executive director Holly DeArmond, the organization is rolling out more offerings for members. The vision: to facilitate the development of a highly qualified network and seamless global collaboration with continuous learning of best practices over the course of the year, not just condensed into one annual conference.

“We aspire to create an environment that nurtures growth, fosters innovation and drives positive change in the field of entrepreneurship education,” DeArmond said in a statement. “Together, we will shape a brighter future where the impact of entrepreneurship in education reaches new heights, empowering individuals and communities worldwide.”

One of these new initiatives announced at the conference is the addition of a global summit to further GCEC’s commitment to make an impact internationally. In June 2024, the Sasin School of Management will host GCEC’s inaugural global summit in Bangkok.

GCEC will continue to hold its annual conference, however. Next year’s event will be hosted by Babson College in Massachusetts in November 2024.

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