News Home Page
News Releases
Faculty Experts
Campus Update
Campus Stock Photos
Media Relations Office


News Website



Business-Higher Education Roundtable of the Capital Region
Technology Entrepreneur and Visionary Gururaj Deshpande Featured at Business-Higher Education Roundtable Strategic Forum on Advancing Innovation in Tech Valley

Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 18, 2005) - The Business-Higher Education Roundtable (BHER), an alliance of area academic and business chief executives, today held a regional strategic forum on accelerating the process of turning innovative ideas into products, high-growth companies, and regional prosperity. The forum is part of a BHER Innovation in Tech Valley series. The series engages global experts with area leaders in discussion of next-stage strategies to advance Tech Valley's global competitiveness.

Technology entrepreneur and visionary Gururaj "Desh" Deshpande was the featured speaker at the BHER forum, which was held at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Before an audience of more than a hundred leaders in business, education, the arts, healthcare and government, Dr. Deshpande discussed how to build a more innovative, entrepreneurial culture and economy and to foster the leadership needed to accomplish those goals.

Dr. Deshpande is chairman and founder of Sycamore Networks, Inc., a leading provider of intelligent optical networking products for telecommunications service providers worldwide. Prior to co-founding Sycamore Networks, Dr. Deshpande was founder and chairman of Cascade Communications Corp., an innovative supplier of advanced data networking equipment that grew into a global market leader in just six years. An educator as well as an entrepreneur, Deshpande also created the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at Massachusetts Institute of Technology to serve as a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship by supporting research and collaboration among entrepreneurs, young companies, and MIT students, alumni, and faculty.

"The region does relatively well in starting small companies but we need to scale them up from the $1 million - $10 million range to the $100 million range and beyond if the region is truly to prosper," says BHER Co-Convenor, Michael D. Marvin, chairman emeritus of MapInfo Corporation. "This would diversify our bedrock economic sectors-government, higher education, and health care - and strengthen all aspects of life in Tech Valley. Dr. Deshpande's insights and experience can help us take this important next step."

"The future of the U.S. economy depends on innovation," said Dr. Deshpande. "Strategic collaboration between businesses, universities, and government is critical to advancing innovation across all sectors of society. I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to share my experiences as an entrepreneur at this forum sponsored by the Business-Higher Education Roundtable."

"The story of success in the Capital Region is the story of strong ideas, collaboration, and partnerships that work," said Joseph L. Bruno, New York State Senate Majority Leader. "We have the ingredients for global success right here, with government, higher education, and entrepreneurs coming together in groups like the Business-Higher Education Roundtable to foster innovation."

"Stronger links between higher education and high tech as well as other sectors of the economy can accelerate the region's development into a globally competitive center of innovation," said BHER Co-Convenor, Kermit L. Hall, president of the University at Albany. "The Deshpande Center at MIT provides a powerful model for us to examine." Hall noted that the forum grew out of work done by the BHER Entrepreneurship Committee - co-chaired by Guha Bala, president of Vicarious Visions, and Thomas Haas, president of SUNY Cobleskill-and the Committee's insight that development of a pervasive entrepreneurial mindset would be critical to a strong future for all sectors of activity in the region.

Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who hosted the forum, said, "Access to intellectual capital is a fundamental ingredient of economically successful regions around the world. Research higher education institutions, working collaboratively across all sectors, often have provided the engine for sustainable economic growth. Desh Deshpande's global success epitomizes this linkage, and we are delighted to have his input in this important strategic initiative for the Capital Region. Jackson serves along with Dr. Deshpande on the MIT Corporation (Board of Trustees), and co-leads the BHER Information Infrastructure Committee with Frank Schmeler, chairman and chief executive officer of Albany International Corporation.

The Business-Higher Education Roundtable (BHER) is a non-partisan, non-political alliance college and university presidents and business executives in a five-county area collaborating to advance the region's economic growth and quality of life. Both visionary and catalyst, the group works to build the region's competitiveness at all levels.

BHER Members
Co-convenors Kermit Hall (UAlbany) and Michael Marvin (Chairman Emeritus, MapInfo Corp.); Harry Apkarian (TransTech Systems, Inc.); Guha Bala (Vicarious Visions); James Barba (Albany Medical Center); Gabriel Basil (Schenectady County Community College); Murray Block (Interim, Excelsior College); Steven Boyle (St. Peter's Health Care Services); William Dake (Stewart's Ice Cream Co.); Steven Fischer (Mechanical Technology Inc.); Philip Glotzbach (Skidmore College); James Gozzo (Albany College of Pharmacy); Thomas Guernsey (Albany Law School); Thomas Haas (SUNY Cobleskill); Daniel Hogarty, Jr. (First Niagara Financial Group); Shirley Ann Jackson (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); Susan Lehrman (Graduate College of Union University); Fr. Kevin Mackin (Siena College); Thomas J. Marusak (Comfortex Corporation); Elliott Masie (The Masie Center); Andrew Matonak (Hudson Valley Community College); George McNamee (First Albany Corp.); Joseph Moore (Empire State College, SUNY); Jeanne Neff (The Sage Colleges); Deborah Onslow (WMHT Educational Telecommunications); James Reed, MD (Northeast Health); Carl Rosner (CardioMag Imaging Inc.); Frank Schmeler (Albany International Corp.); Craig Skevington (Flow Management Technologies); Robert Smanik (Ellis Hospital); R. Mark Sullivan (The College of Saint Rose); James Underwood (Interim, Union College)


The University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages more than 16,000 diverse students in nine degree-granting schools and colleges. For more information about this internationally ranked institution, visit For UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts, visit

Please send questions or comments about the UAlbany News site to: