Deshpande, Jaishree, Kris foster innovation centre at IIT – Madras

Sangamesh Menasinakai / TNN / Updated: Jan 22, 2017, 12:38 IST

HUBBALI: Entrepreneurs Jaishree Deshpande and Gururaj ‘Desh’ Deshpande, in association with another veteran entrepreneur Senapathy ‘Kris’ Gopalakrishnan, have set up a Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at their alma mater IIT-Madras to inspire students to entrepreneurship.

The Gopalakrishanan Deshpande Centre (GDC) aims to provide global thought leadership that will help launch the next generation of solutions from the institute’s labs as well as young student minds, to create significant economic and social impact at a national and global scale.

Naveen Jha, CEO, Deshpande Foundation, Hubballi, said centre will work with existing organizations to catalyze new ideas, to fill gaps and strengthen the ecosystem, and to nurture new approaches with the expectation that they eventually grow and sustain themselves. “It’s the brainchild of Desh and Jaishree, and is modelled after similar centres at MIT, Cambridge, USA, University of New Brunswick, Canada, Queens University, Canada, and in Hubballi Deshpande Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. It is co-funded by the Deshpandes and Kris Gopalakrishnan to the tune of half-a-million dollars each per year over the next five years, for a total $5 million,” he said.

He added: “IIT Madras has a thriving innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. The centre will be staffed by entrepreneurial professionals with experience and they will enable students and faculty to find the necessary assistance to translate their out-of-the-box ideas to reality. By participating in the Deshpande Innovation Network of Centres, the unit at IIT-M will share the learnings of other institutions also focused on entrepreneurship. The centre will be able to benchmark itself against other models of innovation, such as those at MIT. It’ll also be in a robust network of over 100 institutions which are part of the annual Deshpande Symposium for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.”

“I’m excited and impressed by IIT-M’s commitment to innovation, entrepreneurship and excellence in everything they do and for making it a part of their DNA in the next decade,” said Gururaj Deshpande. Jaishree Deshpande added, “I’m very proud that IIT-M is embracing such an initiative and a practical approach to be relevant to the 21st century.”

Prof Jhunjhunwala, faculty-in-charge, Research Park and Incubation Cell, IIT-M, said IIT-M is a front-runner in the nation, driving innovation, excellence in R & D and incubation. “This centre will not only help us stay ahead, but get us to do more to solve the nation’s problems,” he added.

Prof Bhaskar Ramamurthi, director, IIT-Madras, said it’s the right time to give a big fillip to the entrepreneurial ecosystem at the institute, adding, “It’ll enable us to keep innovating. We’re grateful to our distinguished alumni and munificent donors Kris Gopalakrishnan, Desh and Jaishree Deshpande, not only for this wonderful gesture but also for their mentorship and guidance.”