Rediff Logo
Channels: Astrology | Broadband | Contests | E-cards | Money | Movies | Romance | Search | Women
Partner Channels: Auctions | Bill Pay | Health | Home & Decor | IT Education | Jobs | Travel
Home > Money > Business Headlines > Report
September 11, 2001
  Money Matters

 -  Business Special
 -  Business Headlines
 -  Corporate Headlines
 -  Columns
 -  IPO Center
 -  Message Boards
 -  Mutual Funds
 -  Personal Finance
 -  Stocks
 -  Tutorials
 -  Search rediff


 Search the Internet
 Sites: Finance, Investment
E-Mail this report to a friend
Print this page

VCs shy away from funding simputers

Imran Qureshi in Bangalore

Venture capitalists are fighting shy of funding what appears to be India's most promising invention, the hand-held simputer, that can truly take the computer revolution to the masses.

Four researchers of the Indian Institute of Science, who invented the simple device, more powerful than the palm top, along with three technologists of Encore Software, admit they have been struggling for funds.

The biggest advantage of the device is that it could sell for as little as Rs 9,000, or less than $200, giving the less affluent a chance to plug into the IT revolution.

The question of VCs came up during a press conference of PicoPeta Simputers -- the company set up by the IISc and the inventors -- called to announce the first simputer pilot project in Chhattisgarh state, in association with WorldSpace Radio and South Asia Foundation, a voluntary organisation.

The scientists said they are "looking for strategic investments of $300,000-500,000 to ignite the simputer revolution."

Why not VCs was the natural question.

"The VCs do not seem interested. They are holding on tight to their funds," said Ramesh Hariharan, the youngest in the team of scientists.

PicoPeta Simputers began with some "modest investment from IISc and the four of us," said Swami Manohar, scientist and the acting chief executive officer. Two non-resident Indians living in Singapore came forward to offer some investment.

"Anantha Nageswaran of Credit Suisse came in as a true angel, seeking PicoPeta founders out based on a news report. His timely investment enabled PicoPeta to get off the ground in May. The more recent second investment by Sandeep Malik, an equity partner in Marakon Associates, has enabled PicoPeta to stabilise," the fledgling company said.

PicoPeta Simputers develops the technology and the tools for the simputer that is now being manufactured under contract by state-owned Bharat Electronics for the pilot education project in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region.

"We are yet to decide when we will take the licensing fee of $25,000 from Bharat Electronics as per the rules of the Simputer Trust and the other charges for developing the tools," said Vishwanathan Vinay, acting chief technology officer of PicoPeta Simputers.

The company has already held preliminary discussions with IT majors like Wipro and TCS, among others. It has also received a number of enquiries from the US, Europe, Middle East and South America.

But BE was most proactive on manufacturing the simputer.

Indo-Asian News Service

Govt considering steps to protect Simputer: Mahajan

Business News

Tell us what you think of this report