Past Events

First Deshpande- Gopalakrishnan Symposium on Innovation & Entrepreneurship

The 1st Deshpande-Gopalakrishnan Symposium on Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a gathering of like- minded practitioners, administrators and academicians who are focused on promoting and accelerating innovation and entrepreneurship across the academic environment. The Symposium provides a venue for attendees to learn from each other’s experiences; to gain wider exposure for their ideas, successes and startups; and to collaborate on activities that increase innovation and entrepreneurship in academic communities. 

This symposium is organized by the Gopalakrishnan Deshpande Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at IIT Madras and supported by IIT Bombay and the Deshpande Foundation. Participation is by invitation only.  

This symposium provides a forum for attendees to reflect and to learn from professionals and academicians from the best institutions around the world on creating vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems in campuses across India.  

The symposium will feature four KEYNOTE TALKS and five TOPICAL PANEL DISCUSSIONS in an informal and an interactive forum.  

The symposium will provide ample opportunities for networking during the sessions as well as during the evening programs.   

The symposium will be hosted at the salubrious and green campus of Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, home to diverse flora and fauna. 

For those with an inclination for history and culture, the city of Chennai (formerly known as Madras) also offers the world- famous January music season.

January 28th - The Westin, Velachery 
5.45 pm Registration and networking 
6.30 pm Welcome address
- Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras
Introduction to the Symposium
- Dr. Gururaj ‘Desh’ Deshpande, Co-founder, Chairman, Deshpande Foundation
Reflections on Innovation 
- Mr. Kris Gopalakrishnan, Co- Founder; Co- Chairman & former CEO, Infosys Technologies Ltd.
Introduction to GDC 
- Prof. Krishnan Balasubramanian, Dean IC&SR, IIT Madras and Professor-in- charge, GDC 
Role of Alumni in the Innovation Ecosystem
- Prof R. Nagarajan, Dean, International & Alumni Relations, IIT Madras 
07.10 pm Keynote 1
Dr. H.E.A. (Eddy) Campbell, President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor of Mathematics & Statistics, University of New Brunswick
08.00 pm Dinner and Networking 
January 29th – IC&SR Auditorium, IIT Madras 
09.00 am Registration and Networking 
09.30 am Overview of Symposium 
09.45 am Keynote 2 
Dr. Gopichand Katragadda, Group CTO, TATA Sons Ltd.  
10.30 am Panel 1- Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem- Challenges and Solutions
Prof M S Ananth, Former Director, IIT Madras
Prof. Sushil Vachani, Former Director, IIM Bangalore
Prof Milind D Atrey, IIT Bombay
11.30 am Tea Break
12.00 pm Panel 2- Entrepreneurship Curriculum Models
Dr Dhirendra Shukla, University of New Brunswick
Prof Anand Kusre, IIT Bombay
Prof Amit Karna, IIM Ahmedabad
01.00 pm Lunch Break
02.30 pm Panel 3- Public- Private Partnerships to drive innovation and entrepreneurship
Mr. Naveen Jha, Chief Executive Officer, Deshpande Foundation, India
Mr.S Krishnan, Principal Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu
Dr.K.Subramanian, Executive Director R&D, Powergear
03.30 pm Tea Break
04.00 pm to 05.00 pm Keynote 3
Dr. Srikanth Sundararajan, Partner, Ventureast  
 IC&SR Dining Hall, IIT Madras 
07.00 pm Networking 
07.45 pm Dinner
January 30th – IC&SR Auditorium, IIT Madras 
09.00 am Recap and Overview 
09.15 am Keynote 4
Dr. Steven F. Tello, Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for Entrepreneurship & Economic Development, University of Massachusetts Lowell  
10.00 am Panel 4- Funding Innovation & Entrepreneurship across the spectrum- what do the funders expect?
Prof Ted Zoller, Director,  Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, University of North Carolina
Mr.R Ramaraj, Sequoia Capital India
Mr. Prashanth Prakash, Partner, Accel Partners
11.00 am Tea Break
11.30 am Panel 5- Innovation in research methods - How to cultivate I&E thinking and creativity in research scholars and faculty
Prof T.Pradeep, IIT Madras
Prof Sarit Kumar Das, IIT Ropar
Mr. Tom O’Donnell, Senior Director, Innovation Initiatives, University of Massachusetts Lowell
12.30 pm Valedictory
01.00 pm Lunch
02.30 pm Tour of IIT Madras - Centre for Innovation and IITM Research Park (Optional)

Building an entrepreneurial ecosystem - Challenges & Solution

Globally, leading institutions and universities have made significant impact in their communities, society and country at large by developing strong capabilities in innovation and entrepreneurship. In India major institutions have now built an academic and research reputation that is also being recognized worldwide. The focus so far has been on teaching and research with energies focused on the classroom and labs but resulting in limited impact of the work directly on society and industry.

Indian institutions now have an opportunity to broaden their perspective and begin building an entrepreneurial ecosystem that will accelerate ideas from the lab to create societal and economic impact. Building such an ecosystem requires several key components to come together. A key first step is strategic commitment and support from senior academic management. Internally, a major challenge is convincing faculty of the value of entrepreneurial activities beyond traditional scholarship and research. In addition, one needs to build supporting partnerships and institutions that provide early support and funding, support resources, space and practical guidance through mentorship.

The panel will share some successful international and local models of entrepreneurial academic institutions. It will focus on the issues challenges of building an ecosystem and discuss the measures that academic institutions in India could take to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem that is appropriate for them.

Entrepreneurship Curriculum Models

The challenges of the 21st century will require new innovative ideas and thinking. Beyond ideas, it will require new business models and new enterprises to create the requisite social and economic change. Are today’s institutions preparing students with these new innovative and entrepreneurial skills?

Faculty and institutions looking to advance entrepreneurial thinking in their curriculum face several challenges. Many students view their education as a pathway to a lucrative corporate career and are unwilling to challenge societal and family pressure. Even those that look to start a business tend to believe their technical skills are sufficient to build a successful enterprise. Many faculty are also reluctant to look beyond the academic subjects to address the potential application or impact of their subject on the larger community.

In building entrepreneurship into the curriculum, how does one introduce the soft skills of visioning, communication and team building to students? What are successful models of learning that help strengthen emotional intelligence, creativity and design thinking? What innovative approaches to hands-on project-based instruction help spark innovation? How does one introduce lifelong entrepreneurial thinking in students that they can draw on regardless of their future career? This panel will draw on the expertise of a diverse group of practitioners to share the techniques that have helped them build successful entrepreneurial curriculum at their institutions.

Public Private Partnerships to drive innovation & entrepreneurship

The path from a successful research project, which has commercial potential, to its eventual implementation and deployment is a long and winding one. Once proven in the lab, there are still several technical and market risks that need to be addressed before interested investors will step in and fund a project. Institutions need to come up with innovative approaches to fund the required activities during this ‘Valley of Uncertainty”. Traditionally Public Private Partnerships (PPP) between the government and the private sector have helped spread the risk in high impact infrastructure projects like highways or schools.

Are there models of such government partnership that can apply to translating research into commercial implementation? Can the government provide grants or patient capital to absorb the initial risk? Models like the US National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, the Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTR) program and the I-Corps (Innovation Corps) program provide some examples of successful partnerships that provide non-dilutive funding for emerging startup ideas.

This panel will present some of these models and discuss potential approaches that might be applicable in India.

Funding Innovation & Entrepreneurship across the spectrum - what would sponsors like to see?

Today, government and multilateral agency grants form the bulk of financing for research institutions and may come with specific conditions in terms of end-use and other restrictions. Can these schemes be adjusted so that the outcomes can be better reflected in entrepreneurial ventures rather than just research papers? Newer sources from CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) funds are likely to play a growing role in the future. Can corporates use the flexibility of CSR funding to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship? What are the expectations from the corporate perspective? What other sources of funding are available to support innovation and entrepreneurship? How would funding partners measure outcomes in the area of innovation and entrepreneurship?

This panel will consist of a cross section of funding partners who will share their perspectives and expectations about expected entrepreneurial outcomes when funding academic research.

Innovations in Research

Most faculty desire to create deeper social and societal impact with their research. While many institutions in India now produce academic research that meets global standards, the percentage of these ideas that result in innovative solutions impacting business or the consumer is still quite low. What are approaches that will inject innovative thinking, increase sensitivity to market opportunities and help accelerate more research to create relevant societal impact? This panel will share experiences from alternative approaches that help faculty and researchers to cultivate innovative and entrepreneurial thinking as they design and execute their research projects.

The Westin :
Please use the below link to reserve a room in the Westin. Westin is located within walkable distance from the IITM Velachery Gate.

Hotel Ginger :
Please use the below link to reserve a room in Hotel Ginger. Ginger is located in the Research Park right behind IIT Madras.
Please note the promo code “ GINGERIIT ” needs to be used for making the booking.

Holiday Inn, OMR :
Holiday inn is situated about 4 Kms from the IIT Madras Taramani Gate. You will need to contact the below mentioned person to make reservations. Please mention that you are attending the symposium for special rates.
Contact person: rajendra prasath
Mobile no: 7550111023
Mail id:

Below is the link to the hotel website.

  1. Prof. Krishnan Balasubramanian, Professor in Charge, Gopalakrishnan Deshpande Centre, IIT Madras, Chennai 600036
  2. Prof.Ashwin Mahalingam, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Madras, Chennai 600036
  3. Mr. R. Raghuttama Rao, CEO , Gopalakrishnan Deshpande Centre, IIT Madras, Chennai 600036
    Email: Phone: +91-9840070795
  4. Mr. Shiva Subramanian, CINO, Gopalakrishnan Deshpande Centre, IIT Madras, Chennai 600036
    Email: or Phone: +91-9176612393
Contact us:

Gopalakrishnan-Deshpande Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

IC & SR Building, II Floor - Annexe, IIT Madras, Chennai - 600 036


+91 44 2257 8433