Background And Need

TThe founding team started work on the institution in 2004 as part of the PanIIT Future of Computing Initiative (Pi-Foci). Pi-Foci was launched at the first PanIIT India Global Convention held in New Delhi under the mentorship of the then President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam and Dr Sanjay Dhande, former Director of IIT Kanpur.

 

The Pi-Foci sessions saw the participation of over 600 eminent IIT alumni from the broadband, semiconductors, electronics and high technology sectors from India, USA, Western Europe, Japan, Singapore and China. The sessions clearly outlined the urgent need for a buoyant digital and broadband ecosystem in India without which it would be impossible to seed, sustain and accelerate the transformation of India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. It was clear even at that time that smart phones and high speed communications infrastructure could significantly accelerate social transformation. The interactions clearly highlighted that the venture capital and private equity sector in India was focused on relatively smaller opportunities and did not have appetite for funding sectors like the capital intensive broadband infrastructure and platforms. The traditional project finance sources such as the financial institutions and banks did not venture far in this area because of the lack of expertise and the obsolescence and technology related challenges in the sector.

It also emerged that there was no national level private equity fund which was configured to fund large startups in capital intensive domains across infrastructure, platforms, services and devices where India had a market but did not have any prior track record commensurate with the need. The Pi-Foci initiatives continued into the PanIIT Global meet in Mumbai and 2006, Chennai in 2008 and in Delhi in 2010. After carefully incorporating the lessons from previous governmental efforts as Media Lab and Electronics Development Fund, The Digital India Fund was set up to align with and supplement the efforts of the Digital India Initiative of the Indian government.