Ramesh Jagannathan: A New-Age Leaders Acknowledged For Establishing Unique Entrepreneurial Enablement Programs

Ramesh Jagannathan: A New-Age Leaders Acknowledged For Establishing Unique Entrepreneurial Enablement Programs

Ramesh Jagannathan,Managing Director

Ramesh Jagannathan

Managing Director

Being an entrepreneur is a mindset; and while most people chose to become entrepreneurs, a few are born to become one. Comfortable with ambiguity, pushing the boundaries, and exploring mysteries of various industry verticals to gain a better insight into the business world, Ramesh Jagannathan (MD, startAD) believes himself to have been born with an entrepreneurial mindset. After having served as the Inaugural Vice Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, in 2016, Ramesh founded startAD, the global accelerator at NYU Abu Dhabi and serves as its Managing Director. Ramesh is known for his pivotal strategies pertaining to curriculum development, Study Away programs, Innovation, and Entrepreneurial Enablement programs. An entrepreneurial technologist specializing in leading global teams, converting abstract concepts into tangible and marketable technologies in a short time frame, Ramesh leads with focus on innovation and entrepreneurship at NYU Abu Dhabi since 2010. Apart from being appointed by the UAE government to the panel of experts assembled to review and certify their 2030 Policy on the transition to be a Knowledge Based Society, Ramesh is also chosen by the President of NYU Polytechnic to Chair the Task Force on Invention, Innovation and Entrepreneurship to create an executable plan for curriculum, research, and technology transfer.

Ramesh engages in an exclusive interaction with CEO Insights.

Tell us about your professional journey in the Entrepreneurship Education and Innovation domain? What drives you today as an entrepreneur?
Fascinated by science at an early age, I made a promise to myself that I would reinvent myself every five years to gain a richer life experience.
Throughout my professional career,I have been associated with some of the most prolific brands of the industry such as the Merck group, Kodak, NYU (Abu Dhabi), and so on, which pivoted my tactical abilities to a much more prolific direction. Especially with Kodak, where I was associated with the firm when it was entering the business of magnetic recording and then to the traditional inkjet domain at a later phase. I retired from Kodak after 30 years and joined NYU Abu Dhabi to help maneuver the engineering department as associate dean. Soon, with a vision to be a part of the knowledge economy transition in the country, I started the entrepreneurial ecosystem at NYU Abu Dhabi, and currently startAD is an established brand with global recognition which supports the entrepreneurship ecosystem through education initiatives as well as the creation of startups by targeting the local, regional and global communities.

With an aim to explore Abu Dhabi in the MENA market,which is untapped and huge, we are opting for intense, immersive, and impactful programs

Define startAD as an organization, and its current position in the market? How does it stand unique from its competitors in the market?
In 2016, which was the initial phase of startAD, there was very little activity in the entrepreneurial space. To help guide the knowledge economy transformation of Abu Dhabi we decided to brand startAD as an attractive gateway to the UAE and the MENA market, which is untapped and huge. Recognizing the very nascent ecosystem, we opted to bring the Silicon Valley experience, heuristics and culture to Abu Dhabi through intense, immersive and highly granular programs. Entering into the second Machine Age, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we have graduated close to 130 entrepreneurs from over 24 countries, especially from China, India, Singapore, the US, Germany, Mexico, and so on. Now in the seventh edition, we are very proud of being a pioneering angel investment platform, which is an important foundational brick in building any entrepreneurial ecosystem. Focused
on corporate innovation, angel investment capacity building, along with technology, and research commercialization through our association with NYU Abu Dhabi, we have come a long way since our inception.

So far in your professional career, which major milestones gave you the utmost satisfaction?
Even though I function as an MD, I function as an individualwith professional aspirations and commitments.It's difficult to separate one from the other as they are symbiotically interdependent. My success mantra is adding value to my life and it doesn't matter whether it's in the personal front or professional front, because that ultimately defines who I am. I like to take abstract ideas, pull global teams together and create tangible technologies as well as products in a short time frame.

What are the opportunities that you anticipate in the future and what are your future goals?
Our goal is to make startAD and Abu Dhabi the go-to innovation destination for the MENA market. The governments of India, China and the UAE are working together to create a coalition to drive this change in this digital beltway and this is going to democratize the process of innovation and entrepreneurship. I envision a future of truly democratized entrepreneurship platforms, that I like to refer to as National Technology Grids, that startups and SME could tap into and create products and services that reflect their local, cultural and social sensibilities at relatively low cost. A brand new paradigm. To me, Abu Dhabi can not only leverage this to lead the way in building the technology grids but can also lay them down in the MENA region to allow individuals, small SMEs and other entrepreneurs to emerge as powerful forces.

Ramesh Jagannathan, Managing Director, Startad Abu Dhabi
Chosen by the President of NYU Polytechnic to Chair the Task Force on Invention, Innovation and Entrepreneurship to create an executable plan for curriculum, research and technology transfer

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