Michigan State University officials announced a $1 million gift to the Eli Broad College of Business from Broad College alumnus Manoj Saxena, executive chairman of CognitiveScale and co-founder of the Saxena Family Foundation. The gift will establish the Omura-Saxena Endowed Professorship to permanently support a faculty position in Responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The professorship honors Glenn S. Omura, a leading expert and professor at the Broad College’s Department of Marketing and the recently retired associate dean for MBA and master’s programs. Omura is widely recognized for his work on market creation and entrepreneurial marketing, particularly those driven by emerging technologies.

From left to right: Glenn Omura; Manoj Saxena; and Sanjay Gupta. Photo by Kasra Raffi

From left to right: Glenn Omura; Manoj Saxena; and Sanjay Gupta. Photo by Kasra Raffi

“Endowed faculty positions guarantee a strong future for Michigan State, and we are honored that Manoj and the Saxena Family Foundation have chosen to come alongside us to advance MSU’s leadership in business ethics related to AI,” said John Engler, interim president of MSU. “Their generosity will create extraordinary learning opportunities for students at a time when the impact of artificial intelligence is rapidly permeating into all industries.”

According to economic projections, AI will increase the U.S. global gross domestic product by 14 percent, or an additional $15.7 trillion by in 2030, making it the biggest commercial opportunity in today’s economy. Harnessing AI in the coming years requires the creation of a workforce that has the skills and understanding needed to build and manage AI systems that are secure, transparent, explainable and accountable, so that we can avoid unintended consequences that can be harmful to individuals, businesses, and society, according to the foundation.

“We are deeply grateful to the Saxena Family Foundation for this visionary endowment,” said Sanjay Gupta, Eli & Edythe L. Broad Dean of MSU’s Eli Broad College of Business. “This gift underscores Manoj Saxena’s forward-looking commitment to support teaching, and benefits research that recognizes the tremendous importance of digital ethics in an era when AI technology will fundamentally redefine how we learn, work, and play. This gift jump-starts the ability of the Broad College’s faculty to play a leadership role in this exciting new area to build a better world.”

Saxena earned his MBA from MSU in 1991 and has since worked as a serial entrepreneur, an IBM executive, a venture capitalist, and a Federal Reserve Board member and philanthropist. While at IBM, Saxena served as the first general manager of IBM Watson, where his team built the first cognitive systems. Prior to IBM, Saxena successfully founded and sold two venture-backed software companies within a five-year span.

“I am very grateful for the support and education Professor Omura gave me during my time at MSU,” said Saxena, who came to MSU from Hyderabad, India. “There has never been a more important time than now to educate future business leaders on the promise and perils of AI and train them in the ethical choices in this field as it will greatly influence the kind of world we will live in. This gift is just a beginning and it is my family’s hope that this will serve as a seed crystal for growing a world-class program in Responsible AI at MSU’s Broad College of Business.”

CognitiveScale, a leader in Augmented Intelligence and Responsible AI, will provide expertise, technology support and internship opportunities to accelerate MSU’s efforts in this area.

“Artificial intelligence will affect every aspect of modern life and it is critical that informed participation in this field expands from technologists to future business leaders and enablers,” said Dr. Joydeep Ghosh, chief scientific officer, CognitiveScale. “CognitiveScale, along with Saxena Foundation and other partners recently took a pledge to positively impact one billion lives by 2020 through the application of Responsible AI. We are delighted to see Michigan State University take a lead in this area and we look forward to supporting this initiative.”

The Eli Broad College of Business has earned accolades as a global research institution focused on instilling an entrepreneurial, global, and ethical mindset in students. Omura’s work at MSU has centered on creating and growing markets, entrepreneurial marketing and brand strategy, as well as building immersive learning experiences in the Broad MBA program.

“I am honored that Manoj and the Saxena Family Foundation have chosen to name this professorship after me,” Omura said. “This endowment is timely for MSU’s students as the impact of artificial intelligence permeates into all industries.”

The Saxena Family Foundation was established in 2002 by the technology entrepreneur and venture capitalist Manoj Saxena. Saxena and his family believe in “doing well by doing good” and founded the charity to focus on initiatives that promote empowerment of women and at risk children so that they have equal rights and opportunities later in life.

Over the past 14 years, the 501(c) (3) registered non-profit charity has partnered with various social and academic agencies in US, Africa, and India. The foundation awards grants and supports programs that focus on empowerment of women through STEM education and digital technologies to effectively design, create, communicate, and responsibly use data and information.

CognitiveScale’s Augmented Intelligence software helps businesses apply Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain technology to solve complex business problems at scale for financial services, healthcare, and digital commerce markets. The company’s award-winning software is being used by global leaders such as USAA, Morgan Stanley, NBC, JPMorgan Chase, ExxonMobil, and MD Anderson to increase user engagement, improve decision-making, and deploy self-learning and self-assuring business processes.

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, CognitiveScale has offices in New York, London and Hyderabad, India, and is funded by Norwest Venture Partners, Intel Capital, IBM Watson, M12 and USAA among others. For more information on the company, please visit us at cognitivescale.com and follow @cognitivescale on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.