Nearly three decades after he co-founded Infosys Technologies, N.R. Narayana Murthy is stepping into mentoring entrepreneurs and encouraging research and innovation. He has announced plans to set up a Rs 177 crore venture capital fund from his personal wealth. He spoke to Hindustan Times last week on a range of issues including his proposed venture capital fund and Infosys Science Foundation awards to promote original research. Excerpts:
Why has India lacked in the area of original research and development?
Over the years, the number of bright young people going into social and scientific research in India has reduced considerably, most of them moving straight into the job market. This has impacted the quality of scientific research output and has serious implications for the future, particularly critical in the light of the growing economy.
You have plans to set up a venture capital fund. Would it be limited only to start-ups?
I had been contemplating to set up a venture capital fund. I have had talks with some of my friends. I have not made a concrete decision on the nature of the fund as yet. It might focus on promoting entrepreneurship and fund original business ideas that require capital.
Infosys Technologies has set up the Infosys Science Foundation to encourage research. Can you elaborate on the objectives behind instituting the awards?
The aim of the Infosys Prize is to elevate the prestige of scientific research in India and inspire young Indians to choose a vocation in scientific research. It also seeks to boost the confidence of economists, social scientists and other researchers who are already engaged in good work.
The annual award for each the five categories are Rs 50 lakh, among the highest for any award in India. A global jury of accomplished intellectuals, including eminent people as Amartya Sen will evaluate these achievements.
When will the rewards be announced?
The first set of winners will be announced in November and the award ceremony will be held in January.