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2024 Power 100: Kola Akindele

A man in a black suit jacket, white button down, and purple tie with small white dots smiles for the camera. Photo | Courtesy of Worcester Polytechnic Institute Kola Akindele
Kola Akindele Title Associate vice president, external relations & partnerships Company Worcester Polytechnic Institute WPI employees 1,378 Residence Dudley Colleges Quinnipiac University, Northeastern University, University of Massachusetts Boston, University of Massachusetts Lowell Read all the Power 100 profiles here
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Worcester Polytechnic Institute has a unique position in the Greater Worcester economy, providing the brightest minds and cutting-edge research to fuel the Worcester startup ecosystem. In 2021, Kola Akindele left a similar post at the UMass Chan Medical School in Worcester to lead external relations supporting the culture of innovation at the prestigious technological university founded in 1865.

Akindele’s job is to nurture relationships with funders, whether private foundations, government organizations, or corporate sponsors, to support research and operations, as well as to strengthen community connections. In its 2023 Annual Report, WPI said its faculty and research teams submitted 375 proposals, received $42.5 million in awards, and spent $62 million on research. As the WPI liaison, Akindele has a hand in helping to secure much of that funding.

The vast majority of WPI projects are funded by federal agencies. Akindele will work with federal agencies like U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Energy to ensure this money keeps flowing. WPI ventures funded by federal money include the development of flexible 3D robots for search-and-rescue operations; a smartphone-based screener to detect infected wounds; and tools for the detection of software security vulnerabilities.

Akindele is charged with community networking, an integral part of the university fabric, and part of his role is to report on how WPI impacts the community. WPI-led startups raised more than $9.7 million in capital and employed 335 people between 2022 and 2023, according to a Community Impact Report. School mentoring programs, collaboration to assist nonprofits with operations, and a Worcester partnership to help refugees with web-based resources created by WPI’s Small Business Digitization Services are among a host of projects aimed at helping the region. 

Read all the Power 100 profiles here.

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