"The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure is to not try. Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it."
- Debbi Fields, Founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies


Executive Advisory Board

Gerry Pond, Chair
Gerry Pond has over 45 years of in-depth experience in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. As the CEO of NBTel and the President of its successor, Aliant Telecom, he was at the helm during a period of significant deregulation in the Canadian industry. Under his innovative leadership, NBTel emerged as an international ICT leader.

Born in Quebec and raised in New Brunswick, Gerry Pond’s educational achievements include a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New Brunswick; Organizational Effectiveness Program, Harvard University; Executive Program, McGill University; and Senior Executive’s Program, University of Western Ontario.

Pond is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Mariner Partners Inc., and has co-founded a number of successful ICT start-ups in Atlantic Canada, including iMagicTV, Q1 Labs, Brovada Technologies, Radian6, Shift Energy and Cirrus9. He is also the Co-Founder of Propel ICT, a start-up accelerator, the Co-Founder of the Pond-Deshpande Centre at the University of New Brunswick, and the Co-Founder and Chairman of East Valley Ventures, an incubator for Atlantic Canadian start-up companies with a mission of helping passionate entrepreneurs launch meaningful and enduring technology companies.

Gerry Pond has received many honours, both regionally and nationally, including the prestigious 1997 Canadian Information Productivity Association (CIPA) Innovator of the Year and Hall of Fame, the NB Knowledge Industry Recognition and Achievement (KIRA) Awards Person of the Year in 2002, the 2003 Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, Atlantic Business Magazine’s Top 50 CEO Award in Atlantic Canada in 2003 and 2005, an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of New Brunswick, and an Honorary Doctor of Commerce from Saint Mary’s University.. For his tireless contribution to regional economic development, he was inducted into the New Brunswick Business Hall of Fame in October 2007.

An inspiring innovator and social entrepreneur, Gerry Pond also earned recognition as 2011 Canadian Angel of the Year from Techvibes & KPMG. In 2012, he received the 2012 Red Cross Humanitarian Award for New Brunswick. He was twice honoured in 2013, first by The Learning Partnership as a Champion of Public Education, and then as the recipient of the Order of New Brunswick for his innovative spirit and critical contribution to many of New Brunswick’s IT and telecommunications success stories. At the 2014 Canadian Startup Awards, Gerry Pond’s passion for supporting innovation and entrepreneurship was recognized with the prestigious WolfBlass Lifetime Achievement Award.

He was awarded the first-ever Business Development Bank of Canada Entrepreneurship Champion – a national award that recognizes the achievement of a Canadian entrepreneur and community leader who has created and grown one or many successful small or medium-sized businesses while significantly contributing to the prosperity of the Canadian entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Most recently, Gerry was appointed to the Order of Canada.


Gururaj (Desh) Deshpande

Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande is the President and Chairman of Sparta Group LLC, a family investment office and is also the Chairman of Tejas Networks.

Founders: Gururaj Deshpande

Dr. Deshpande has pursued an entrepreneurial career for the last three decades.  He is involved either as the founder, a founding investor or chairman of several companies including Cascade Communications, Sycamore Networks, Coral Networks, Tejas Networks, Cimaron, Webdialogs, Airvana, Sandstone Capital, A123 Systems and Curata.

Dr. Deshpande lives in Boston and serves as a life-member of the MIT Corporation, and his support has made possible MIT’s Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation.

Leveraging the experience gained at the MIT Center, the Deshpande Foundation has facilitated the set up of three other centers;  Deshpande Center for Social Entrepreneurship in India, Merrimack Valley Sandbox in Lowell/Lawrence Massachusetts and Pond-Deshpande Center at the University of New Brunswick in Canada.

Dr. Deshpande holds a B. Tech. in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology – Madras, an M.E. from the University of New Brunswick in Canada, and Ph.D from Queens University in Canada.

Deshpande co-chaired a National Council to support President Obama’s innovation and entrepreneurship strategy.

Link to Dr. Deshpande’s videos about entrepreneurship and social enterprise. Connecting thinkers to do-ers.


Raj Melville, Executive Director, The Deshpande Foundation

As Executive Director at the Deshpande Foundation, Raj develops overall strategy, and channels the Foundation’s efforts to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. He helped launch the Pond Deshpande Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of New Brunswick in Canada and has driven overall direction for the Merrimack Valley Sandbox initiative at the University of Massachusetts, raj melvilleLowell. Previously as Principal at Ambient Engines, Raj Melville provided marketing and strategy consulting to emerging social entrepreneurs. He founded the annual Forum for Social Entrepreneurs, organized and moderated numerous panels and workshops on social entrepreneurship, and currently mentors several startups focused on addressing key social issues.

Raj has over 25 years of product management, marketing and consulting experience including managing overall product strategy and features as Vice President, Product Management for nTAG Interactive, a spin off from the MIT Media Lab. As V.P. Product Management and Marketing, and later V.P Client Services, at mobile software vendor Vaultus, another MIT spinoff, (now part of Antenna Software) he provided marketing, product management and client services direction. Prior to that he was Sr. Director, Product Management at Be Free Inc. (now Valueclick), a market leading affiliate marketing ad server and e-commerce solution. Earlier he managed the launch of two high-end Internet server products at Electronic Book Technologies (later acquired by Inso). His early career included working at Microsoft Corp., Digital Equipment Corporation, and Booz Allen & Hamilton.

He is an active member of TiE Boston and the India Society of Worcester and co-founded the TIE Social Entrepreneurship Group. He has been a mentor and judge for several entrepreneurial competitions such as MassChallenge, MIT 100K, and the MIT IDEAS competition. Raj has a Doctor of Science in engineering from MIT focusing on optimizing the operation of computerized manufacturing systems; a Master’s from MIT’s Sloan School; and a Bachelor’s from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.


H. E. A (Eddy) Campbell, President & Vice-Chancellor, University of New Brunswick

H.E.A. (Eddy) Campbell is the 18th President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of New Brunswick, Canada’s oldest English-language university. An internationally recognized professor of mathematics, Dr. Campbell holds two degrees from Memorial University of Newfoundland and a Ph.D. Eddyfrom the University of Toronto.

In addition, Dr. Campbell is a professor in the department of mathematics and statistics and continues to maintain an active research career including the supervision of graduate and post-doctoral students. Dr. Campbell’s main research interest is the invariant theory of finite groups.

Upon arriving at UNB in 2009, Dr. Campbell led the development of a strategic plan building on UNB’s rich tradition of education, research and community service. In the spirit of the strategic plan, UNB has established entrepreneurial initiatives such as the Pond-Deshpande Centre, a major addition to the university’s superb capacity to support entrepreneurship and innovation.

During his tenure, the university has been recognized by Startup Canada as Canada’s Most Entrepreneurial Post-Secondary Institution. It also established the Tucker Park Collaborative on its Saint John campus (home to the new Dalhousie Medicine Education Centre and the Saint John Regional Hospital), built state-of-the-art student and research facilities such as The Richard J. CURRIE CENTER and the Hans W. Klohn Commons, and has been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers in 2013, 2014 and 2016. His work at the university and with the province is helping build a stronger, more prosperous society for the people of New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada.

Dr. Campbell remains active with many associations, currently serving as chair of the board of directors for both the Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU) and the Atlantic University Sport (AUS). He is a board member of CANARIE and represents UNB on the New Brunswick Business Council, where he advocates for a “Smart(er) NB.” In 2013, Dr. Campbell received the Graham P. Wright Award for Distinguished Service from the Canadian Mathematical Society. He was named among the top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada by Atlantic Business Magazine in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Prior to joining UNB, Dr. Campbell served as Acting President, Vice-chancellor and Vice-President (academic) at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He also served as Associate Dean of the faculty of arts and science and as a professor and head of the department of mathematics and statistics at Queen’s University.


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