UIDAI’s Sanjay Jain boards CIIE to focus on India Stack infrastructure

BENGALURU: The Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), the technology business incubator of IIM-Ahmedabad, will get a new focus on the India Stack infrastructure as it brings on board a key member of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Sanjay Jain, who was its chief product manager.

Jain has joined the CIIE as its chief innovation officer. The CIIE was started to incubate and fund startups in areas such as healthcare, education and clean energy , which are often underserved by the private sector.

Jain, who has experience across Sun Microsystems, Google, UIDAI, and software product think-tank, iSPIRT, has been among the key people who helped develop India Stack, an API-based infrastructure that allows technologies to be built around Aadhaar authentication and eKYC, eSign, DigiLocker, and a unified payments interface (UPI). India Stack has helped push paperless and cashless innovations in the country in recent years.

“India Stack will bring the possibility of improving the last-mile reach of startups especially in areas such as agriculture, health and financial services. Jain’s role will be mainly focused on this,“ said Neharika Vohra, chairperson of CIIE Initiatives. Jain’s appointment comes as the CIIE is working on closing the Bharat Innovation Fund, which had been announced by PM Narendra Modi during his Silicon Valley visit in 2015. The fund, with a target corpus of `1,000 crore, will back startups in areas of healthcare, agritech, sustainable energy and, digital technology aimed at the inclusion of the masses.

ET had reported in February that CIIE had received approval from market regulator Sebi for the Bharat Innovation Fund as a category-I venture capital fund that can also get incentives from the government. Jain and members of CIIE refused to comment on the fund and on his role in it.

“CIIE has been at the forefront of promoting entrepreneurship and innovation, particularly in the less served parts of the market. India Stack is a great tool to help in serving these markets, and hence there is great synergy with CIIE and my previous work,“ Jain told ET. “My role will be to bring in innovation to CIIE’s programs, bring in an India Stack focus, and also to engage with CIIE’s portfolio companies, “he said.