Established in 2002 — through a generous gift from philanthropists Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande and his wife, Jaishree — the center empowers some of MIT’s most talented researchers to make a difference in the world by developing innovative technologies in the lab and bringing them to the marketplace in the form of breakthrough products and new companies. In turn, those innovations can help solve large and daunting problems in health, information technology, energy and other fields.
Providing Vital Support, Financial and Otherwise
In pursuing its mission, the center awards research grants and provides other types of assistance to faculty members whose work shows the potential to benefit society, transform markets and industries, and improve the quality of life for people across the globe.
To streamline a researcher’s journey “from idea to impact,” the Deshpande Center carries out several core activities.
- Educating grant recipients about the innovation process.
- Coaching grantees on how to commercialize their inventions and launch startup companies—skills they can leverage throughout their careers.
- Providing research teams with mentoring and guidance from respected venture investors, startup specialists and entrepreneurs.
- Encouraging today’s innovators to impart the same skills and opportunities they have received to succeeding generations of MIT scientists and engineers.
- Nurturing MIT’s unique ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship.
- Assisting organizations that want to follow MIT’s example in fostering innovation and accelerating the impact of new discoveries.
Encouraging Researchers to Be Change Makers
Desh and Jaishree Deshpande’s support for the center is grounded in decades of successful entrepreneurial ventures and innovative philanthropy, areas of endeavor they believe are closely entwined. Explaining their philosophy, Desh says, “We don’t see a lot of difference between developing a new technology in the lab, starting a company, or engaging in philanthropy. All these activities are about making a difference: You see something you don’t like in the world, something you believe can be better, and you resolve to make it better by creating a new technology, a new product, or a new service.
“By showing these very talented researchers how to commercialize their innovations so they have a real-world impact, the MIT Deshpande Center is helping them become change makers — people who don’t just leave things at the idea stage but push ahead and actually make their ideas happen.”