After receiving an excellent education at Washington University in St. Louis, including access to mentors and learning in an environment conducive to innovation, alumnus Suren G. Dutia (BS ’63, AB, MS ’67) forged a successful career in several industries, including Internet/e-commerce, medical instrumentation and other high-technology businesses. Along the way, he grew into a passionate advocate for innovation and transdisciplinary, cross-campus entrepreneurship.
Now, he and Jas K. Grewal, his wife and frequent professional collaborator, are completing the circle of opportunity begun at his alma mater by establishing an endowed fund to assist promising entrepreneurs and high-growth entrepreneurial ventures to catalyze social change.
Their gift of $1,025,000 will establish the Suren G. Dutia and Jas K. Grewal Global Impact Award in the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at WUSTL. The endowed fund will receive $1 million, and the remaining $25,000 will support awards made during the current academic year.
The Skandalaris Center is a campus-wide program that supports entrepreneurial initiatives in every school at WUSTL.
In announcing the gift, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said:
“As professionals with a long history of entrepreneurial leadership and success and a genuine commitment to help others, Suren Dutia and Jas Grewal understand the great potential benefits, for both the individual and for society, that can arise from an environment conducive to learning and growth.
“We are honored by their commitment and very grateful to Suren and Jas for this remarkable gift that strengthens the Skandalaris Center’s resources for future generations of entrepreneurs and agents of social change,” Wrighton continued.
The Suren G. Dutia and Jas K. Grewal Global Impact Award Fund has been designed to meet the donors’ overarching goal: to invest in promising ventures founded by highly motivated entrepreneurs that use technology to develop low-cost products and services that will spur economic growth and catalyze social change for underserved, disadvantaged populations.
Skandalaris Center managing director Ken Harrington, who has known and admired Dutia for several years, appreciates the way the donors have structured the award process to instill a socially conscious goal and to support future generations.
“I’m extremely grateful to Suren and Jas for this important gift to the Skandalaris Center, which fosters and supports the great work of our students, scholars and alumni,” Harrington said. “Their gift adds powerful resources to help entrepreneurs in the WUSTL community develop their skills and social networks and form ventures equipped to change the world.”
Another key aspect of the gift is to encourage award winners to contribute back to the fund after achieving a successful venture. As Harrington points out, the donors are underscoring the importance of expanding what they have begun, to empower more people to create more entrepreneurial ventures each year.
“The objective is to establish an ongoing commitment to long-term social responsibility,” Harrington said. “Their gift serves as a wonderful example for others who may be inspired to make impactful gifts consistent with their own values and beliefs. This helps complete the circle of ‘giving back to society’ that Suren has written about and exemplifies all that he and Jas do.”
Harrington will establish a selection committee to oversee the awards process. It will be structured, according to the donors’ wishes, to include the director of the Skandalaris Center, the dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science and representatives of St. Louis area organizations and firms that support entrepreneurial enterprises.
Award winners will receive $25,000 to $50,000 to implement their business plans; access to mentors; and connections to organizations that can accelerate their ventures.
The application process is open to all current WUSTL students, postdoctoral researchers and alumni who have graduated in the past five years. The application deadline is noon March 24; the first award will be presented in September.
While having a generous funding source is important to a venture’s success, Harrington emphasized the value of the mentoring component, which will be available to all finalists in the competition — not just the winners.
“Though not all applicants will receive funding, all finalist teams will receive mentorship and introductions to important connections that can help them develop their ventures, ” he continued.
Dutia, currently a senior fellow with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, invests in a number of startup ventures and is on the board of several firms.
Most recently, he served as chief executive officer of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) Global. With 57 chapters in 14 countries, Silicon Valley-based TiE is one of the largest nonprofit organizations involved in fostering entrepreneurship globally.
Earlier in his career, Dutia was president and CEO of Xscribe Corp. and held a number of leadership positions with Dynatech Corp.
Dutia holds three degrees from the university: bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering and a bachelor’s degree in political science, from Arts & Sciences. He also received a master’s in business administration from the University of Dallas.
From 2011 to 2012, Dutia was the Wells Fargo Advisors Visiting Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at WUSTL.
He continues to serve the Skandalaris Center as a senior fellow and is a member of WUSTL’s Entrepreneurship National Council. In addition, Dutia chairs the San Diego Regional Cabinet and Grewal serves as a member.
For more information on the Suren G. Dutia and Jas K. Grewal Global Impact Award, including criteria for selection, visit here.