The Obama administration’s appetite to nominate persons of Indian origin to senior roles in the government shows no sign of abating. United States Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced that Gururaj ‘Desh’ Deshpande, entrepreneur, philanthropist and Chairman of Tejas Networks, A123 and Akshaya Patra, USA, had been appointed Co-Chairman of the U.S. National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE).
Making the announcement at the Innovation Forum of the University of Michigan, Mr. Locke said: “The National Advisory Council will help the administration develop a broader strategy to spur innovation and enable entrepreneurs to develop breakthrough technologies and dynamic companies, and to create jobs all across America.”
Dr. Deshpande said that many Indians based in the U.S. today are involved in innovation and entrepreneurship, and “the future of the world depends on this.” He said that the key learning that emerged from the work he had been engaged in, particularly at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was that “you need not only innovation, but also to connect innovative ideas to markets, to create impact by getting thinkers involved with relevant ideas.”
In terms of some of his recent work, Dr. Deshpande told that while he focussed on technological innovation at MIT, his work with programmes such as the Akshaya Patra Foundation, the Public Health Foundation of India and the Social Entrepreneurship Sandbox in Hubli, Karnataka, was all about social entrepreneurship.Yet, he argued, once innovative concepts emerged through social entrepreneurship, it was vital to deploy corporate and market-driven means to make them relevant and scale them up.
In terms of his future role, Dr. Deshpande said that the U.S. spent approximately $60-70 billion a year on research, and he would be looking at ways to “to get more out of that.”
Reflecting on the importance of the NACIE, Mr. Locke said: “America’s innovation engine is not as efficient or as effective as it needs to be, and we are not creating as many jobs as we should…We must get better at connecting the great ideas to the great company builders.”He added that he wanted to extend his gratitude to the leaders appointed to the NACIE and that their work would be a “key component” of America’s economic recovery.
Dr. Deshpande is one of 26 members of the Council, which counts serial entrepreneurs, university presidents, investors and non-profit leaders among its members. Dr. Deshpande is said to be the only Indian co-chairing the Council, with the other Co-Chairs being Steve Case, Chairman and CEO of Revolution and co-founder of AOL , and Mary Sue Coleman, President of the University of Michigan.
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