LOWELL, Mass. -- The Deshpande Symposium organizers 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 at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren St., Lowell. The annual symposium is hosted by the Deshpande Foundation and UMass Lowell.

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.

Three colleges finalists:

Kent State University is a finalist in 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.

The University of Akron Research Foundation is a finalist for 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.

Case Western Reserve University is a finalist in Exemplary Practice in Technology Commercialization, which recognizes an institution for comprehensive programs that accelerate innovations into commercialization.

The award recipients will be announced at a ceremony at the Deshpande Symposium on June 13.