Ashoka University (AU) is all set to raise around Rs 1,500 crore from businessmen, non-resident Indians (NRI) and wealthy individuals (HNI). The university’s co-founders had invested more than Rs 1,000 crore to build the first campus. Ashish Dhawan, co-founder of private equity fund ChrysCapital Investment Advisors will be leading the present fundraising effort.
There are plans of constructing a second campus on the 27-acre plot adjacent to the university for which land was purchased from the government of Haryana, said Dhawan.
The 1.8 million square-foot campus will be built in three phases of two years each. “Last decade was about starting Ashoka and this decade it will be about building and expanding Ashoka,” Dhawan said in an interview.
“We are ready to take the next phase of growth forward for Ashoka University. This second campus and the funds which will be collected will be used to differentiate Ashoka from a liberal arts university by adding wings, departments. and research and development laboratories in the field of advanced science and technology,” he said.
Dhawan further spoke about his fundraising plans. “Much of the capital is expected to come from entrepreneurs and companies in India, he said. “Over the years, we have over 160 co-founders and we believe they will all support us in this new endeavour of ours in different capacities. We will add more to the list,” he added.
Some of the founders, including him, and the founder of InfoEdge Ltd, Sanjeev Bikhchandani, have already stepped up their philanthropic contributions. Dhawan said Ashoka University will raise enough funds from like-minded people, but “will not increase the debt.”
Ashoka University has a roster of famous co-founders including Dhawan, Bikhchandani, Dalmia Cements managing director Puneet Dalmia, Jerry Rao, chairman of Value and Budget Housing and former promoter of Mphasis Ltd Developer, Pramath Sinha, founding dean of ISB, and Atul Nishar, the former promoter of Hexaware Technologies Ltd.
“We are expanding post-doctoral, doctoral and graduate programs, and we will increase our research capacity. As part of the first phase of this new campus, we are constructing a new biological science building with state-of-the-art research and development facilities. There is a great focus on science, ”he said.
“We will also be focusing on computing, creating and using computer applications for use in areas such as the environment and other societal issues. We are also setting up a data science center. Our goal will be to use data science in research and social welfare and to train people to face the future of work, ”Dhawan added. “Once we launch the fundraising campaign (soon) some of us might give some numbers from our side as well,” he said.