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NIC plans Rs 5,000 cr VC fund for innovation

Mumbai: National Innovation Council (NIC) Chairman Sam Pitroda today said the council will launch its Rs 5,000-crore venture fund aimed at supporting small enterprises by March.

"We are creating a Rs 5,000-crore venture fund which will be operational by the end of March. We have already spent a year-and-a-half structuring, working on it and getting government approvals," Pitroda, who is the advisor to the PM on public information infrastructure and innovation, told a CII conference on design through a video link.

Pitroda, who is the advisor to the PM on public information infrastructure and innovation, told a CII conference on design through a video link about the launch. AFP

The fund, which has got  seed money commitment from the government, will work on a commercial basis like any other fund but support enterprises which drive change at the bottom of the economic pyramid, he said.

"Best brains in the world are busy solving problems of the rich who really don't have problems to solve. As a result the problems of the poor don't get the right kind of talent," Pitroda, he said.

He added that solving the problems of the large number of the poor is our "moral responsibility". He further said though the government is providing the
seed capital, some banks have already committed money for the fund and eventually, we will also see private capital flowing into the corpus.

Pitroda, who is credited with ushering in the telecom revolution in the mid-1980s and currently heads the NIC, also said, "the fund will invest in ideas which are affordable, scalable and sustainable."

However, the technocrat sounded pessimistic about the long-celebrated frugal innovation in the country or "jugaad" as it is referred to, saying "many of our solutions, the so called 'jugaad' don't scale. How do you scale 'jugaad' so that a large number of the people get the benefit is the challenge."