Vice-Principal for Commercial and Regional Innovation

Professor Gordon McConnellBiography                        

Gordon held the title of Professor of Practice in Entrepreneurship in King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) from 2016 and was the Head of the KAUST Entrepreneurship Center from 2014 until December 2017. During that time he led the deployment of KAUST teaching & learning strategy and implementation in innovation and entrepreneurship including the national STEAM Innovation Challenges. Gordon developed the externally focused non-credit New Venture School programs and the KAUST for-credit teaching for Master and PhD students.

During this time his team developed and launched Kingdom-wide startup accelerators such as the TAQADAM University Entrepreneur Accelerator and the Takamol 910th Startup Accelerator. He created the first KAUST Corporate Innovation program, which has supported innovation activities in twenty-nine organizations in Saudi Arabia including SABIC, Saudi Aramco, Saudi Airlines and Islamic Development Bank. The Center was given the award for ‘High Impact Award for University Incubation’ for the MENA region by UBI Global in October 2015.

Prior to Saudi Arabia, he was Associate Vice President of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University, Principal Investigator of the ASU Center of Excellence in Technology Transfer, which was funded by the US Department of Defense, and an Assistant Professor of Practice.  During his time in ASU, his group was ranked in the top 10 in the US for university incubators according to the UBI Global Index. While in ASU he developed several new innovation initiatives including the Furnace Technology Transfer Accelerator, which won the U.S. award for Most Promising Technology Based Economic Development by SSTI in 2013. He was awarded the title ‘Tech Titan’ for contributions economic development in Arizona in 2014.

Previously Gordon was Deputy CEO of the DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship in Ireland where he developed new programs such as the Business Innovation Program (accredited) in 2011 and was the founder of the Propeller startup accelerator in 2010. Before the Ryan Academy, he spent several years as chief of staff to the President of Dublin City University and was architect of two of the university’s strategic plans. He was a co-founder of two funded start-up companies and also worked in a number of industry management roles including at Westinghouse and the strategy practice of Accenture.

He has developed and taught entrepreneurship and management curriculum in a number of colleges and universities and has been a mentor to a number of startup companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United States and Ireland.  McConnell was awarded the title of Arizona Tech Titan in 2014 by the Arizona Business Journal and an Award for Excellence – Outstanding Contribution from KAUST in 2015. He has spoken at a number of leading conferences in the US, Canada, Russia, and Saudi Arabia including at the Kauffman Foundation, the AUTM Annual Conference and the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers (GCEC).


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