2012 Jury Member

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Location: India

Gururaj "Desh" Deshpande
India, Born 1952

Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande is recognized worldwide for pioneering new technologies and turning them into successful businesses, earning a reputation as a visionary innovator. After studies at the Indian Institute of Technology — Madras and at Queen’s University in Canada, where he earned a Ph.D, Deshpande moved to Boston in the 1980s to start the first of his many enterprises. 


He is currently chairman of five technology companies, among them Sycamore Networks, which he co-founded in 1998, a venture that Fortune magazine predicted would “do nothing less than change the nature of the Internet”.

Over the past decade, the global philanthropist has donated millions of dollars to non-profit initiatives. The Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at MIT has awarded more than 80 grants to promising start-ups, while the Deshpande Center for Social Entrepreneurship in south-west India has supported a wide variety of education, health and agriculture programmes. In 2010, he launched a centre for social innovation at the University of Massachusetts. In recognition of these undertakings, he was appointed co-chairman of the U.S. National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

For Deshpande, a successful entrepreneur must, above all, “demonstrate inner strength, take risks, tolerate pain and face challenges”.

Other 2012 Jury Members