Deshpande Foundation Launches Campus Catalyst Program

Deshpande Foundation

Merrimack Valley Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UMass Lowell

Merrimack Valley Sandbox Initiative- Campus Catalyst Competition

Spring 2011

The Campus Catalyst Competition is an exciting new program where the Merrimack Valley Sandbox (MVS) Initiative will provide seed capital, up to $500 each, for innovative and entrepreneurial projects to be done by the students of UMASS Lowell, Middlesex Community College, Northern Essex Community College and Merrimack College. Each student group can submit proposals for teams between 3-5 members.

Proposals will be considered for funding by MVS Staff and advisors on your campus. Each proposal will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Innovation (a new way of looking at an old problem, a unique solution to a challenge, an entrepreneurial answer to a community challenge)
  • Social purpose or need
  • Ability to inspire students
  • Relevance to Lowell/Lawrence or MVS
  • Ability to use the funds efficiently
  • Addresses a community or environmental problem
  • The potential to continue in a financially sustainable way
  • Any project that addresses a community, environmental or “market” at the college college/university or in the community is eligible (no matter how small the impact).

How to apply:

  • Fill out the proposal form according to the directions on the application.
  • Each team should be comprised of members from the same institution
  • Submit proposal and all application materials on a rolling basis anytime between February 14-18, 2011.
  • Teams will be notified by February 28, 2011 if their proposal is accepted;  teams will complete the proposed work by the last week of April 2011
  • Student projects will be presented May 5, 2011 at a Campus Catalyst project festival at a local educational institution. Various awards will be presented.
  • Contact to submit your application or forward any inquiries or questions.  

Limitations and Restrictions:

  • A Campus Catalyst application cannot be submitted for a project that is already funded
  • Funds cannot be used toward a stipend or for an individual
  • Funds can be used for an innovation of an ongoing program
  • Project proposal can be part of a course
  • Receipts must be submitted to MVS staff
  • Weekly blogging of project : This can also include the use of other forms of technology such as Twitter or Facebook to keep the everyone apprised of the project progress.

MVS and Deshpande Foundation

The Merrimack Valley Sandbox (MVS) Initiative began in December 2010 as part of the philanthropic vision of Gururaj “Desh” and Jaishree Deshpande. The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship @ UMASS Lowell was created so the MVS Initiative could be anchored in innovation at the university level to foster student leadership and entrepreneurship in partnership with Middlesex Community College, Northern Essex Community College and Merrimack College.

The Deshpande Foundation, based in Stoneham, will provide $5 million over the next five years for the Merrimack Valley Sandbox, which will be one of only three of its kind in the world and modeled after programs the foundation supports at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in Northern Karnataka, India. Through student projects, training programs and the funding of innovative nonprofits, the MVS hopes to inspire entrepreneurship and innovation in Lowell and Lawrence and percolate into the entire Merrimack Valley. In addition, the Deshpande Foundation hopes to raise another $10 million from outside funders to supplement its funding in the region. Lowell and Lawrence are slated to be the central focus of the projects and interventions of the MVS Initiative.

2 Responses to Deshpande Foundation Launches Campus Catalyst Program

  1. Kosta says:

    This seems to be a very “nice” opportunity for students and for the Lowell/Lawrence community. I hope that the Sandbox group plans to help students in all phases of their projects – from need identification, to idea development, to execution, etc. Idea seeds also need to be watered and burst from fertile soil. I hope that no one will be disappointed if there are few proposals in its first round. It is a very short span between mid-December when Sanbox began to mid-February when the proposals are due – especially when people were on break for most of that time.