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The Rediff Interview/Romesh Wadhwani, founder, Wadhwani Foundation

'Very few Indians do world-class research in India'

October 07, 2008

The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, received a grant of $ 5 million from the Wadhwani Foundation to establish the Wadhwani Research Centre in Bio-sciences and Bio-engineering. Romesh Wadhwani, founder of the Symphony Technology Group and the Wadhwani Foundation, which promotes the National Entrepreneurship Network, shares his plans with Kalpana Pathak. Excerpts:

Why do you want to set up a research centre in bio-sciences and bio-engineering?

Many of the world's best scientists and researchers are Indian, but very few of them do their research in India because of the many obstacles they face; from the lack of focus on research to lack of equipment and supplies. The $ 5 million grant will act as a catalyst towards accelerating IIT Bombay's progress in becoming a world-class centre for research.

Do you plan to increase the funding at any stage?

The grant will be used to create an endowment. This would be increased to $ 10-15 million as the endowment grows. We plan to have a world-class advisory board for the centre which will have representatives from several international institutes, international researchers and noble prize winners as members.

What plans do you have for NEN? Do you envision a similar venture with any of the IIMs?

Around 500 institutes have tied up with NEN so far. Initially, NEN was supposed to be only a 10-year initiative forging membership with 500 institutes, but we have been able to achieve the goal in just six years.

Our entrepreneurship programmes attract 50-100,000 participants every year. In due course, we hope to tie-up with a few thousand institutes and, with the enthusiasm students are showing, we have decided to keep NEN running forever. We do not plan to tie-up with any B-school at this point of time.

Would the current financial crisis prove a deterrent for students interested in becoming entrepreneurs?

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