Indian tech executives join hands in bid to raise nearly $300 mn for new varsity

Indian tech executives join hands in bid to raise nearly $300 mn for new varsity
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15 Feb, 2019

Top Indian technology executives and entrepreneurs have come together in a bid to raise Rs 2,000 crore (around $280 million) for building a new science and technology university, a media report said.

Tech Mahindra chief executive CP Gurnani; Pramod Bhasin, chairman of professional services firm Genpact and non-bank lender Clix Capital; Dilip Pathak, partner at private equity giant Warburg Pincus; and Neeraj Aggarwal, chairman (Asia Pacific) at Boston Consulting Group are among the 40 individuals who have contributed to the effort, Mint reported.

Hitesh Oberoi, MD and CEO of internet company Info Edge; Ajay Arora, managing director of fabrics firm D’décor; education entrepreneur Vineet Gupta; and venture capital firm Helion Ventures’ co-founder Ashish Gupta are also part of the project.

The group, which had brainstormed for three years, has so far raised around Rs 400 crore ($57 million) for the project. The planned corpus of Rs 2,000 crore is at least four times higher than the typical government outlay for setting up Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the report said.

“It (the project) will address India’s largest challenge through applied research and foster an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship," BCG’s Neeraj Aggarwal was quoted as saying by Mint.

Named Plaksha, which means tree of knowledge, the planned university will be built across 50 acres in Mohali, Punjab.

The university will focus on core engineering modules and deep technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. It will also advocate interdisciplinary learning by introducing both science and liberal arts subjects in the curriculum.

A number of prominent scholars including Ashish Nanda of Harvard University, Anant Agarwal of MIT, S. Shankar Sastry of University of California-Berkeley, and Arvind Raman of Purdue University have joined the university’s academic advisory board, the report said. It has also formed a partnership with Stanford Research Institute and Purdue University.