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Celebrating Queen’s spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation

Queen’s receives the Deshpande Symposium Award for The Entrepreneurial University for its curriculum innovation and student engagement.

Every Spring, the Deshpande Foundation hosts the Deshpande Symposium on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education, which brings together academics, policy planners, practitioners, business incubators, and foundations to discuss best practices in integrating entrepreneurship throughout their college and university communities.

At this year’s virtual gathering, Queen’s University received the Deshpande Symposium Award for The Entrepreneurial University. This award celebrates an institution that demonstrates excellence in entrepreneurship-related curriculum innovation and student engagement.

"Entrepreneurship has become an important means by which we fulfill our obligations of positive societal impact, to the regional community in which it is embedded, and in global society," says Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor.

Queen’s was unanimously voted as the 2021 recipient of this honour for fostering a culture of innovation throughout its many curricular and extra-curricular offerings.

Curricular Offerings in Entrepreneurship and Innovation

The university’s academic and curricular programs of study make entrepreneurship and innovation a priority at all levels. Undergraduate and graduate students across Queen’s are exposed to entrepreneurship and related topics in a broad range of sectors across disciplines. Some courses engage students in team-based venture projects in for-profits contexts, while others, like the Arts and Science "Dean’s Changemaker" courses ASCX200/300, give them opportunities to identify and pursue entrepreneurial solutions to pressing societal problems. The Dean’s Changemaker program supported 12 students in its pilot run and is expected to grow to 50 students per year.

Curricular delivery prioritizes interdisciplinarity. The Certificate in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Creativity (CEIC), offered by the Dan School of Drama and Music, is taught not only by faculty from the Dan School but also from the Smith School of Business and the faculties of Arts and Science and Engineering and Applied Science. These pan-university partnerships persist even at senior levels of education and training. The blended format Master of Management of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MMIE), for example, is a joint collaboration between Business and Engineering and offers networking opportunities with other programs across campus. Since its inception five years ago, 420 students representing 25 countries globally have completed the program, which now accepts 114 students/cohort. MMIE participants have created 89 start-ups and scale-ups, collectively raising $750,000 and employing 112 people. By placing a strong emphasis on interdisciplinarity, Queen’s has been able to increase each individual unit’s capacity for providing immersive programming, thereby fostering development of entrepreneurial mindsets.

[Photo of the QICSI 2019 cohort at Mitchell Hall]
The 2019 Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) cohort at Mitchell Hall.

Co- and Extra-Curricular Offerings in Entrepreneurship and Innovation

The university also offers numerous co- and extra-curricular opportunities in entrepreneurship and innovation, many of which are provided and/or coordinated through the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC) and Queen’s University’s Partnerships and Innovation (QPI). DDQIC was founded in 2012, following a significant gift jointly provided by distinguished alumni Andrew Dunin, Sc ’83, MBA ‘87, and his wife Anne Dunin, ArtSci ‘83, and Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, PhD ‘79, and his wife Jaishree Deshpande. 

DDQIC collaborates with schools and faculties, assisting in the development and delivery of many co-curricular programs across campus. The centre runs the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI), a 16-week full-time program in which participants complete a two-week boot camp and receive seed capital to found and build ventures. Since 2012, DDQIC has mentored 460 changemakers in QICSI and helped students launch and grow 200 ventures, 50% of which are still in operation, including Mosaic Manufacturing, CleanSlate UV, and RockMass Technologies. The part-time DDQIC QyourVenture program operates year-long and supports early stage start-ups by providing foundation and mentorship. Furthermore, DDQIC prioritizes innovators and leaders from underrepresented groups through its Konnect program for women entrepreneurs and the Jim Leech MasterCard Foundation Fellowship for young African entrepreneurs. 

QPI supports programming through workshops targeting thematic areas and groups (e.g. health, research-based graduate students) and in sector-targeted and IP/commercialization-advising roles. It provides an accelerator facility for growing ventures, complementing DDQIC’s QICSI, and offers linkages to other ecosystems, notably the Kingston-Syracuse Pathway in Health Innovation, Invest Ottawa, the Toronto-based Technology Innovation Accelerator Program, and L-Spark. Since 2014, QPI has supported 300 entrepreneurs and 150 ventures.

Student engagement extends beyond Queen’s as DDQIC, QPI, and their partner organizations deliver entrepreneurship-geared educational outreach programs, providing translational career and leadership skills to high school students in the Kingston area and globally.

The university received the award as part of a ceremony on June 10, 2021.