Our Mission

Building changemakers & catalyzing potential

At the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre, we believe everyone has the potential for creative problem-solving to address pressing issues facing people in our society. Our mission is to catalyze this potential, developing entrepreneurial mindsets and fostering a culture of innovation across Queen’s University, the Kingston community, and globally. We build changemakers by encouraging and supporting their entrepreneurial initiatives through incubators, workshops, programs, courses, and pitch competitions. (Photo: Tom Ridout of Industryous Photography)

Our Story: Celebrating 10 Years

In 2022, we are celebrating our 10th anniversary, as well as the many notable milestones along the way.

Founded in February 2012

The Smith School of Business and Smith Engineering launch the Queen's Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (formerly known as QSII).

September 2012 - A New Unit is Created for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

After the successful pilot of QICSI, Queen's Innovation Connector becomes a new unit within Queen's University to advance this program and other entrepreneurship initiatives.

February 2013 - QICSI Eligibility Expands to All Disciplines and the Community

QICSI, in its second year, opens eligibility to students from any level, Faculty and discipline to encourage diverse and interdisciplinary founding teams. QIC also receives a gift to fund participation of St. Lawrence College students in QICSI.

The First On-Campus Makerspace in Canada Established May 2013

SparQ Studios Makerspace, the first of its kind in Canada, is founded in collaboration with student entrepreneurs, QIC, and faculty. Its first home is a small group room in Beamish Munro Hall.

2014 - QYourVenture Launches

QIC launches QYourVenture, a year-round program supporting dozens of founders each year in turning their idea, technology, or inspiration into a venture.

2014 - First Major Grant

QIC receives its first major grant from the Ontario Centres of Excellence Campus Linked Accelerator program.

September 2015 - First Courses in Entrepreneurship Launch

With the help of QIC, the Masters of Management Innovation and Entrepreneurship launches. QIC helps to re-build the CHEE 310 undergraduate course into an entrepreneurship and innovation design course. QIC also launches design thinking workshops on campus, and these mark the centre’s first curricular efforts.

March 2016 - Global Network Established

DDQIC establishes the Global Network to leverage the expertise of alumni to mentor and support ventures that are expanding globally. London, England is the first node, with plans to expand to cities around the globe.

May 2016 - The Foundry program

Together with Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation, DDQIC launches the Foundry program to give QICSI teams the opportunity to start a company to commercialize Queen’s research. The first Foundry company, Rock Mass Technologies, is born.

A New Gift and a New Name

In October 2016, the Dunin Foundation (Andrew and Anne Dunin) and the Deshpande Foundation (Desh and Jaishree Deshpande) give a significant gift to the Queen’s Innovation Connector and it becomes the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre.

February 2017 - Development Dialogue

The first delegation of students is sent to the Deshpande Foundation’s Development Dialogue Conference in Hubballi, India, the largest conference on social innovation and entrepreneurship in India.

September 2017 - First Entrepreneurship Certificate program

Together with the Faculty of Arts and Science, DDQIC develops courses for the Certificate in Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Creativity, allowing students in the Faculty to study key topics in entrepreneurship and problem-solving alongside their degree.

February 2018 - Mayor's Innovation Challenge Sponsor

DDQIC partners with the City of Kingston to offer an annual prize for the Mayor’s Innovation Challenge competition, the first of many collaborations to spur entrepreneurship in the community.

April 2018 - Alumni Workshops

DDQIC partners with Advancement to offer the first international design thinking workshop for alumni based in Hong Kong.

May 2018 - A More Robust Impact Measurement Framework

DDQIC begins to study the long-term impacts that the programs are having on the entrepreneurial mindset and career paths of its participants to help understand and improve our impact.

September 2018 - International Innovation Term (i2Trm) Launches

DDQIC launches the i2Trm at the Castle, creating an international entrepreneurship experience for upper year students.

January 2019 - Innovation Fellows Appointed

The first Innovation Fellows are appointed from among innovation champions at Queen’s, innovation leaders in the community, and DDQIC alumni, to provide guidance to DDQIC and to collaborate on initiatives that foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

February 2019 - Workshops for International Recruitment

DDQIC delivers a design thinking workshop to prospective students in Bangalore, India, its first event in partnership with International Recruitment at Queen’s.

October 2019 - DDQIC Joins the WE-CAN Network to Close Gaps in Service for Women

DDQIC participates in the WE-CAN (Women Entrepreneurs Can) project, made possible by the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund, and launches additional support programs for self-identifying female entrepreneurs to complement other incubation programs.

The Rose Innovation Hub Opens in December 2019

DDQIC and SparQ Studios move into the Rose Innovation Hub in the brand new Mitchell Hall. It is the first pan-university space on campus for entrepreneur coworking and collaboration. DDQIC can now offer physical spaces for networking, events, offices, co-working, and prototyping. (Photo: Tom Ridout of Industryous Photography)

May 2020 - First Virtual Cohort

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, QICSI runs its first online program with the biggest-ever cohort, providing income and entrepreneurial education to over 170 students and community members who are looking to solve challenges related to the pandemic.

December 2020 - Mastercard Foundation Program Launches

DDQIC receives an endowment from the Mastercard Foundation to launch the Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship to address unemployment among African recent graduates, and accepts over 1000 African youth into the first virtual cohort.

May 2021 - Health Innovation Programs

DDQIC launches the Build2Scale Health program, its first sector specific program, to contribute to the Health Innovation YGK, a $3 million project supported by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, with the aim to make Kingston a “living lab” for health innovation.

10th Year of QICSI Kicks Off May 2021

DDQIC launches the 10th iteration of QICSI, which has now cultivated the entrepreneurial mindset of 510+ change makers and helped launch 145+ startups. (Photo: Tom Ridout of Industryous Photography)

Queen's is Named the Entrepreneurial University

In June 2021, Queen’s University is awarded The Entrepreneurial University award from the Deshpande Symposium, a consortium of academics, policy planners and practitioners at the forefront of innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education.

DDQIC Wins the Globally Engaged Innovation Award

In April 2024, The Dunin-Deshpande Innovation Centre was awarded the Principal’s Globally Engaged Innovation Award for the Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship. The program has expanded to include over 60 African universities, with over 5,000 applicants per year and 1,000 participants in the first phase of the program.