IIT Bombay’s Incubator

Writing in Tech Review, Venkatesh Hariharan shows how “IIT Bombay is using its technology incubator to counter the exodus of its brightest graduates to the West.”

Despite the challenges, R. K. Lagu, the IIT Bombay electrical engineering professor who is in charge of the incubator, says that there is great interest. The incubator started as an IT incubator but now faculty and students from other disciplines have also become interested, says Lagu. He adds that initially, most business plans were from final year undergraduate students but in the last two cases it has been a faculty-student combination.

Powai Labs Tikoo sums up the attitude of IIT Bombays entrepreneurs when he says, There was a time when India did exports through cheap labor, but that time has gone. You cannot build an Infosys today with any amount of capital. The next ten years will belong to technology R&D based product companies out of India.

Tikoo adds that 20 years ago, the United States was the place to be for technological entrepreneurs. But now, he says, growth and investments are happening in India. This is where the action is. It would be foolish to miss this opportunity by being out of India.”

A missing element in the Indian entrepreneurship ecosystem is angel and start-up funding and assistance/mentoring.

Home Server

Tech Review writes about how “a server in your home allows easy storage, retrieval, and backup of your filesat very little cost.”

Ive had a server in my basement since 1995, and frankly, I wouldnt want to live without it. Always running, my server holds my personal files, my music collection, and all of the digital data that Ive been building up over the past 20 years. The server also mirrors the data thats on my two laptops and my two computers at MIT, keeping everything properly synchronized, and it automatically backs itself up. I can also log in remotely and get an important file if I happen to be at a friends house. Its easy to lose your data if you keep it on a single computer. My server gives me automatic redundancyand that safety net has saved me from many data disasters.

The most important program my system runs is the mail server. Like those at a growing number of businesses and universities, my server speaks IMAPthe Internet Message Access Protocol. Unlike the Post Office Protocol (POP) used by most Internet service providers, IMAP keeps all of my mail on the server and downloads a copy of each message only to whatever desktop machine I happen to be using. When I delete a message, that action happens both on my desktop and on the server at the same time. And if Im using my laptop, my mail program remembers all of those actions and transmits them back to the server when its back on the network. This means that the mailboxes on all of my various laptops and desktops are kept perfectly synchronized.

The home server is part of the Always-on World Dana Blankenhorn envisions. This could be an interesting opportunity – to take features from corporate servers and put them on appliances for the home market.

Search Action

Plenty of Search news today.

News.com: “Microsoft plans to introduce a news aggregation service for Web logs and to develop a social networking product…Microsoft’s Yusuf Medhi said one in two search requests currently go unanswered and that there are a number of ways to improve on that. One is to learn more about the searchers, in order to give better results.”

Adds WSJ: “Microsoft said it will introduce MSN Newsbot, which gathers news from hundreds of news sites, and MSN Blogbot, which can search Web logs, or personal Web pages…Unlike rival news searches, MSN Newsbot keeps track of a visitor’s queries and suggests news articles based on past requests. MSN Blogbot is still in development, but a beta version should be available in the first half of this year.”

Michael Kanellos writes about interpreting search. “University of Southern California spinoff Language Weaver, for instance, has come up with technology that performs functional translations of Internet articles or video clips on the fly…People can submit a Web page in French, Arabic, Chinese, Hindi or the ever-popular Somali, and a functional English version pops out in about a minute…MetaCarta has come up with software designed to enable intelligence agencies, oil exploration teams and marketing execs to search for documents in their own data files and then plot them geographically…The MetaCarta and Language Weaver efforts essentially address the central paradox of search: The more you know, the less you know. The amount of information out there and the ways people want to use it are so wide-ranging that there are plenty of technology opportunities.”

Two deals: Yahoo paid $575 million for European e-commerce provider Kelkoo and Infospace is buying Switchboard, a provider of online yellow pages listings, for USD 160 million. “Analysts said the market fever has been driven in part by the early success of paid search services pioneered by Yahoo’s Overture Services subsidiary and Google’s Adwords service. Sales from keyword searches increased to 31 percent of the total $1.75 billion in online ad revenue in the third quarter of 2003, according to online-advertising trade group the Internet Advertising Bureau.”

Newsweek has a cover story on Google.