Deshpande Foundation Supports Innovation Connector at Queen’s University in Canada

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Desh and Jaishree Deshpande (Photo: Raj Melville)

KINGSTON, Canada—Queen’s University of Canada has launched the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre in Kington, Canada, to support innovation and new programs and resources for students over the next five years.

Queen’s distinguished alumni Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, (PhD ’79) and his wife Jaishree Deshpande, and The Dunin Foundation – established by Andrew Dunin, (MBA ’87) and his wife Anne Dunin, provided a significant gift to Queen’s Innovation Connector, according to Queen’s Gazette.

Desh and Jaishree Deshpande (Photo: Raj Melville)
Desh and Jaishree Deshpande (Photo: Raj Melville)

“Universities will play a different and an important role in the 21st century; they have to be relevant to the world and have both social and economic impact,” says Dr. Deshpande, as quoted by Queen’s Gazette. “I am pleased that Queen’s University is taking a lead to make innovation and entrepreneurship be a part of its DNA and redefine the role of universities in Canada.”

In recognition of this support, the university-wide initiative to support student innovation and entrepreneurship will now be known as the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, which was formally launched on Oct. 31, according to Queen’s Gazette.

Deshpande is an accomplished entrepreneur, starting and investing in several highly successful companies. After earning his PhD in electrical engineering from Queen’s in 1979, Dr. Deshpande built a successful business career as an investor and entrepreneur. He is best known for co-founding Internet equipment manufacturers, Cascade Communications and Sycamore Networks.

Deshpande and Mrs. Deshpande co-founded the Deshpande Foundation in 1996, to encourage the use of entrepreneurship and innovation as catalyst for sustainable change in Canada, the United States, and India.

“Queen’s is grateful for the philanthropic support from The Dunin Foundation and Gururaj and Jaishree Deshpande,” says Daniel Woolf, Queen’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor as reported by Queen’s Gazette. “This investment will allow the university to expand its innovation programming for students and position Queen’s as an innovation hub for attracting, supporting, and retaining the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs in both the local region and beyond.”

With their generous gifts, the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre will launch new programs and resources for students over the next five years. This support builds on the investments that the university, the federal and provincial governments, and a number of benefactors have made in this area over the past several years. Most recently, construction began on the new Innovation and Wellness Centre on campus that will include an Innovation Hub centered around the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre.

“Since our founding several years ago, we have encouraged, enabled, and supported the innovation activities of student, professors, entrepreneurs, and Canadian companies,” says Greg Bavington, the Executive Director of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre. “With the generous support of the Dunins and the Deshpandes, we will move beyond the lean start-up phase of this initiative and rapidly increase Queen’s capacity to drive innovation and entrepreneurship across the region.”

The Queen’s Innovation Connector began in 2012 as a joint effort by the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and the Smith School of Business. It has evolved into a pan-university initiative under the Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) with strong continuing support from its founding faculties. Through a variety of programs, services, and resources, the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre encourages, enables, and supports the innovation activities of students, professors, entrepreneurs, and Canadian companies. Since its founding, the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre has worked with and supported 50 ventures, with 28 of them still in operation.

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