Half high-tech benefactor, half philanthropist, Desh Deshpande works to connect “research and relevance,” as he puts it. On the technology side, his Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at MIT links “thinkers to doers” to promote MIT technologies in the commercial marketplace. Since opening in 2002, it has funded more than 90 projects with more than $11 million in grants. Twenty six have become commercial ventures, collectively raising upwards of $350 million in outside financing.

The best solutions to social problems come from the community members that will benefit from the innovation, says Desh Deshpande. “Let people living in those societies come up with solutions and play a catalyzing role, as opposed to being the architect.”

Learn more about catalyzing change at The Bridgespan Group.