Deshpande Foundation puts $5M into Merrimack Valley Sandbox

Deshpande Foundation puts $5M into Merrimack Valley Sandbox

Adding detail to an announcement from earlier this week, the Deshpande Foundation and a coalition of colleges and non-profit groups said today that a planned entrepreneurship center based at the University of Massachusetts Lowell will be called the Merrimack Valley Sandbox, and that it will be funded with $5 million from the Deshpande Foundation over five years, and an expected $10 million in supplemental funds from outside backers.

The organizers had released basic information about the plans on Tuesday.

The goal of the initiative is to grow an “innovation ecosystem” in the Merrimack Valley. In addition to the Deshpande Foundation and UMass Lowell, partners include Middlesex Community College, Northern Essex Community College, Merrimack College and Teach For America. The initiative will establish the Merrimack Valley Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UMass Lowell, which will coordinate activities between the colleges, local non-profits and the business community.

The Deshpande Foundation, based in Stoneham and established by entrepreneur and mentor Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, has also supported similar programs at MIT and in Northern Karnataka, India.

Desh Deshpande is chairman of the foundation and serves as chairman of Watertown-based A123 Systems Inc. and was founder of Sycamore Networks in Chelmsford.
UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan said in a press release, “This new center will be an idea generator that taps the imagination, idealism and capacity to solve problems of some of the best minds in the region. Students will partner with experienced leaders in business and nonprofits, as well as educators at all four institutions to address social challenges and spark new economic development. The entire Merrimack Valley will benefit.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *