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Those who can’t keep up will be left behind: Wadhwani Foundation CEO on AI

Through this initiative, the firm aims to translate over 1,000 innovations annually into product-led startups

The increasing integration of artificial intelligence (AI) across sectors will cause a short-term churn, but lead to a substantial increase in productivity in the long term and fuel job creation, said Ajay Kela, president and chief executive officer (CEO), Wadhwani Foundation.

“There are jobs that die because technologies come in. Those same technologies give birth to new jobs…In the short term, there will be disruption. Those that can’t keep up will be left behind,” he told Business Standard. Kela was speaking at the sidelines of an event in New Delhi on Tuesday.

The Wadhwani Foundation on Tuesday signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, IIT Hyderabad, IIT Kanpur, IISc Bangalore, and C-CAMP, to launch Wadhwani Innovation Network Centres of Excellence (WIN-CoEs) in these institutes.

Each of these centres will receive up to $1 million annually. An additional joint investment with AICTE for $10 million via its 13 ‘Indovation Centres’ will support the research and translation activities of the next 100 institutes in the country. 

Through this initiative, the firm aims to translate over 1,000 innovations annually into product-led startups.

“The biggest challenge for the country, especially with the growth of the youth population, is jobs. This initiative, alongside all our other initiatives, is targeted at creation of family wage jobs,” Kela said.

He also believes that in the long run, productivity will increase with AI. “In the long term, there will be an enormous increase in productivity across the board in the industry. This can have a significant impact on the growth of the nation, and, in turn, job creation,” Kela added.

On the Foundation’s plans overarching in India, Kela said the overall target is to create 1 million jobs globally by 2030, with around 60 per cent of them in India. This is via its national entrepreneurship platform — Wadhwani Entrepreneur Network.

Furthermore, through the national skilling platform, the firm has a target of enabling 10 million family-wage jobs during the same period.

“Our aim is to inspire students to look at entrepreneurship as a career, try to minimise the failure rate of those starting companies and support micro businesses along with those with proven business models,” Kela said. The failure rate of businesses is more than 90 per cent.

He added that policies around supporting startups and innovation are needed.

“The pressing need for the central government is (GDP) growth, tied to job growth. So, policies are required around supporting entrepreneurs, innovation, and high-quality skilling, tied to a very strong matrix of job creation,” Kela said. 

He added that the upcoming Budget should boost the creation of jobs, and support industries which would lead to job creation.

“For instance, we tend to ignore the 60 million micro businesses in India. Even if we consider roughly one per cent of them – around 1 million businesses – we can create 5-10 million jobs a year,” Kela said.

Source: Business Standard

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