Rana K Gupta named Executive Director of Deshpande Center

February 15, 2024 | 12 pm

Rana K Gupta, who most recently served as Director of Faculty Entrepreneurship at Boston University (BU), started as Executive Director of the MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation on February 12, announced MIT School of Engineering Dean Anantha P. Chandrakasan. 
Rana succeeds Leon Sandler, who announced his retirement after 18 years as Executive Director of the Deshpande Center. Leon has agreed to stay on as a strategic advisor for the Deshpande Center to help with the new leadership transition.

Rana comes to MIT with a wealth of diverse experiences in both academia and industry. As the Director of Faculty Entrepreneurship at BU and the Managing Director of BU’s Business Innovation Center, Rana oversaw BU’s educational and facility resources to advance research-driven ideas. He launched over 15 educational programs resulting in a growing pipeline of commercializable ideas. Core to these resources, he managed BU’s Ignition Awards, providing internal commercialization development funding designed to de-risk research ideas.
In addition to his work at BU, Rana served as CEO of cancer diagnostics company and Yale University spinout HistoRx, founder and CEO of mechanical adhesive technology company and UMass Amherst spinout Felsuma, LLC, and was a Managing Director at Navigator Technology Ventures, an early-stage technology venture capital firm spun out of Draper Laboratory. He has had extensive experience consulting CEOs, entrepreneurs, and innovators across tech industries. 
Rana received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Earlham College, a master’s in operations research from Stanford University, and an MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business.

Leon served as Executive Director since 2006. During his tenure, the Center has funded roughly 180 projects with 44 spinout companies formed. Under his leadership, the Center raised over $20 million in funding and awarded a similar amount in grants to faculty. Leon coached over 500 faculty and students, recruited 50 volunteer mentors, and has run 17 IdeaStream conferences. 
Leon has also been a vital member of the wider community – he taught classes in the School of Engineering and at Sloan and has participated in MIT Sandbox, the MIT-Lemelson Program, National Academy of Medicine, and National Science Foundation as either a board member or grant reviewer. He also has helped other universities set up programs modeled after the Deshpande Center.