The Indian Institute of Technology in Powai received quite a windfall recently when billionaire alumnus Bharat Desai, chairman of US-based company Syntel, donated $1 million to his alma mater. The money will go toward starting a robust entrepreneurship centre so that many more technicians come out as entrepreneurs rather than just as degree-holders.
Prof Ravi Sinha, dean of Alumni and Corporate Relations at IIT-B, told dna, "Mr Desai gave us $1million to start an entrepreneurship centre; all modalities have been finalised. A robust training programme under the guidance of experts and innovators will start this July. It will be open to all except the first year students." Over 8,000 students are currently studying at the institute in various courses.
Desai, a Kenya-born Indian-American entrepreneur, graduated in electrical engineering from IIT-B in 1975. Syntel, based in Troy, Michigan, is a multinational provider of integrated technology, KPO and business services, with over 23,652 employees across the world, including India.
Desai co-founded the company in 1980 with Neerja Sethi (now his wife) with an initial investment of $2,000. Originally named Systems International, the company earned $30,000 in its first year. The net worth of the company at present is said to be $2 billion.
Anand Kusre, a professor at Shailesh J Mehta School of Management at IIT-B, will head the ambitious project. Ecstatic with the development, Kusre said, "We have designed the programmes to cater to the needs of every student on campus. This will be offered for free."
The institute is currently in the process of hiring experts/trainers for the centre, which will require over $1.8 million in the first phase. "The remaining funds will be generated from alumni and corporates," said Sinha.
A three-year programme for all BTech second year students, which will be optional, will be offered for free. Experts, innovators and businessmen will train students for three-four hours a week. Training will be to identify the need of the society and industry, lab facilities to innovate and test the products, marketing strategy, costing etc. At the end, every candidate will receive a BTech minor degree (entrepreneurship) along with the major degree
Several entrepreneurship courses have been designed to cater to the need of all UG, PG, research, management and humanities students on campus.
We have an incubator cell but it's not as robust as it should have been. With the big financial help from Mr Desai, we will be able to streamline the entrepreneurship training, making it dynamic and result-oriented. We hope to see many more entrepreneurs in the next few years
—Prof Ravi Sinha, dean, Alumni and Corporate Relations, IIT-B