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Inspiring investment for innovation

  • [Principal Woolf at podium]
    Queen's Principal Daniel Woolf thanks The Dunin Foundation -- established by Andrew and Anne Dunin -- and Gururaj and Jaishree Deshpande for their support of innovation and entrepreneurship at Queen's. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • [The Deshpandes with students]
    Gururaj and Jaishree Deshpande speak with students including Rector Cam Yung following the gift announcement. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • [Mayor Paterson at podium]
    Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson pledges his support for expanding connections between the Dunin-Deshpande Queen's Innovation Centre and partners across the city and local region. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • [Shelby Yee, Gururaj and Jaishree Deshpande]
    Shelby Yee joins Gururaj and Jaishree Deshpande on stage during the gift announcement. Ms. Yee, Sc'16, a former participant in the Queen's Innovation Connector Summer Initiative, spoke about the ways the support will benefit students. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • [Dean Woodhouse, Mayor Bryan Paterson, and Principal Woolf]
    Kimberly Woodhouse, Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson, and Queen's Principal Daniel Woolf participate in the gift announcement on Oct. 31. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)
  • [ Gururaj "Desh" Deshpande]
    Gururaj "Desh" Deshpande praises Queen's for taking a lead to make innovation and entrepreneurship a part of its DNA. (Photo by Garrett Elliott)

Innovation and entrepreneurship programming at Queen’s University has received support from distinguished alumni.

The Dunin Foundation – established by Andrew Dunin, Sc’83, MBA’87, and his wife Anne Dunin, Artsci’83 – and Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, PhD’79, and his wife Jaishree Deshpande jointly have provided a significant gift to Queen’s Innovation Connector. 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.

“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. “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 the expendable gifts, the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre will launch new programs and resources for students over the next five years. The 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 centred 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, Executive Director, 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.”

Mr. Dunin graduated from Queen’s with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1983 and an MBA in 1987. He invested in his own automotive parts business in 1989 and grew the company from 50 employees in one location to more than 2,000 employees in 12 locations throughout North America.

About Dunin-Deshpande Queen's Innovation Centre
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. More information about the centre is available online.

After selling the business – one of the largest private equity transactions in Canadian history – Mr. Dunin went on to invest in a variety of businesses through Bracebridge Investments, as well as other causes through The Dunin Foundation.

“The Dunin Foundation is very proud to sponsor Queen’s commitment to incorporating entrepreneurship into the core culture of the university,” Mr. Dunin says. “As a result of this commitment, the university will provide dedicated facilities, curriculum, seed capital, and global experience and leadership to help all students from the university and the surrounding communities innovate and build new businesses. Students and graduates will be creating jobs not just taking jobs.”

Dr. 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.

Dr. 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.

“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. “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.”