Centre sets up fund to promote innovation

The Centre is setting up a special fund with an initial corpus of Rs 500 crore to support projects which will improve quality of life for “poorer Indian citizens” in sectors including healthcare, agriculture, education and energy.

The National Innovation Council (NInC), which announced the proposal in November last year, has claimed to have reached out to potential investors and successfully raised the initial corpus.

“The council has been working towards creating mechanisms to finance innovative enterprises focussed at the bottom of the income pyramid and is geared to launch the India Inclusive Innovation Fund,” President Pranab Mukherjee said, after receiving the council’s second “Report to the People” from its chairman Sam Pitroda here on Friday.  

The council, however, did not specify when the fund would be launched. It will be operationalised when it reaches a corpus size of Rs 500 crore, it said.

“NInC has reached out to potential investors to make the case for innovation investments that are simpultaneously social and commercial, and is successfully raising the fund’s initial corpus,” the council said in its report.

It has collaborated with the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises to steer the fund towards its final stages. It aims at capitalising the fund to an eventual target size of Rs 5,000 crore in different phases.

In the National Innovation Fund, conceived as a SEBI-registered venture capital fund to back creative new solutions to the development challenges, the government will provide 20 per cent to the corpus, and draw the remainder from banks, insurance companies, financial institutions, and bilateral and multilateral agencies.

The government has included its contribution of Rs 100 crore to kickstart the fund in the Union Budget 2012, the council said.

Further, the Ministry of Human Resource Development plans to launch 1,000 scholarships under the National Innovation Scholarship Scheme from the academic year 2013, Mukherjee said.

The awardees will be students from classes 8 to 12.

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