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Gautam Gandhi wins Fulbright award

October 31, 2007 15:59 IST
Gautam Gandhi's role model is Muhammad Yunus, founder of Bangladesh's revolutionary Grameen Bank. Like 2006 Nobel Laureate Yunus, he has gone on to win an award -- in his case the Fulbright for research in business.

Gandhi believes although the Indian economy is booming, a majority of people there are left behind. He speaks of his awe of Yunus.

"I want to meet him too. Ordinary people should get opportunities for entrepreneurship and ownership, to benefit from the economic boom," said Gandhi, a 2004 graduate of Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business. His research at the Indian Institute of Studies in industrial development will involve studying business practices in the United States and India.

"In the US, businesses get public protection such as against bankruptcy. If the business is bankrupt, banks may not come after your home. But in India, it is the other way," he said, adding the scholarship is for nine months to one year, while being very flexible.

After the State Department and J William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board announced his name, Gandhi said, 'I will be researching the successful business models that have emerged from the rapid industrialisation of India's economy and its effects within Indian society. In addition, I will be examining the entrepreneurship process within India and future opportunities for entrepreneurs in India.'

Thomas Emerson, David T and Lindsay J Morgenthaler chair of entrepreneurship at Tepper, described Gandhi as being uniquely qualified to perform such research. 'He has thorough and first-hand knowledge of the cultures and business practices in both the US and India. The fact that he is spending time exploring and investigating the links between changing business practices and their social effects so early in his career is a true testament to his potential as a future business leader.'

After graduation, Gandhi co-founded ClearCount Medical Solutions, a medical device company. The company developed a technology to find foreign objects in the body using Radio Frequency Identification. This is helpful to prevent surgeons leaving instruments or objects inside the body of a patient. "Last year there were more than 3,000 incidents where foreign objects were left inside the body," Gandhi said. The technology has approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

This was developed from a business plan he co-authored while completing his MBA at Tepper. The plan received national recognition for his efforts as the winner of the Hewlett-Packard Grand Prize at Rice University's business plan competition, the richest business plan competition in the world.

At ClearCount, he was responsible for business development which included marketing, clinical trials and finance. Gandhi also co-authored and successfully obtained a $1.2 million National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research Phase II grant. He has received international recognition through the company.

He recently left the company and plans to start another one after returning from India. "I have not decided on the nature of the company. But I plan it as an Indo-US project," he said.

He was also a finalist in the MOOT Corp, Forbes and Jungle MBA competitions; in 2004 he was named Roseman-Canfield Entrepreneur of the Year by Carnegie Mellon University.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by Senator J William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Programme has provided American citizens the opportunity to study, teach or research abroad and exchange ideas and to embark on joint ventures of importance.

Gandhi's father Prem Gandhi is a retired engineer from New York state service. His mother Madhu Gandhi is an engineer at AT&T.

His younger brother Rohit is an investment banker, who will be engaged in a few days. "People ask why the elder brother is not engaged. Maybe I will find someone in India," Gautam jokes. The family lives in Millstone, New Jersey.

George Joseph in New York