The National Innovation Council (NIC) will create a Rs 1,000-crore national innovation fund in two to three months to provide venture capital for early-stage innovations, according to Arun Maira, member of NIC and the Planning Commission.
The fund would be used to support new ideas with a potential to bridge developmental gaps in health, education, urban and rural infrastructure, transport and sanitation, he said.
The 17-member NIC headed by Sam Pitroda, adviser to the Prime Minister, was set up in August last year, following the mid-term appraisal of the Eleventh Five Year Plan that found slow progress in social indicators as compared with GDP growth rate. The council, which functions within the Prime Minister's Office, has been mandated to prepare a road map for a decade of innovation 2010-2020 and to evolve an Indian model of innovation to meet national goals.
Speaking at a symposium on strengthening research-to-marketplace linkages, organised by the Indian School of Business here on Friday, Maira said selection of right innovations and the amount of finance would differentiate the fund from others. “Foreign venture capital funds look for mid-size ventures that have proven themselves. In India, no VC firm provides small amounts to ventures that can produce results in health and education for people in India,” he said.
The Planning Commission was looking at the whole ecosystem of innovation to convert research into results, he said, pointing out that to connect the research 'hub' with people on the 'rim', there was a need for the 'spokes' of market. He asked the students to come up with suggestions on which aspects of an innovation ecosystem the NIC should focus on and how to connect the ideas with people’s needs.
Advising them not to look at rich country models, he said, “In healthcare, innovative pharma companies outside India spend a lot on R&D and patents, but are they helping solve the problems of people? They produce solutions for lifestyle diseases but not for malaria.”
For the 12th Plan, the Planning Commission has decided to seek ideas from thinktanks, industry bodies, civil society groups as well as ordinary people through interactions and also through a specially created website. “We must do something differently to get different results,” he said.