Tata Industries Limited is reportedly planning to invest around Rs1,500 crore ($350 million) into international start-up businesses.
Tata Industries managing director Kishore Chaukar has said that his company, which is the group's flagship that acts as a promoter of businesses for the Tata Group, is looking at breakthrough technologies, and would consider getting into an emerging business.
Chaukar said that during the past two years Tata Industries and Tata Sons have together invested around Rs125 crore in supporting new technological research by various individuals globally in the fields of solar energy, drug discovery, contract research, water recycling and biotechnology.
He said that investments in these individual research products ranged from a relatively miniscule Rs60 lakh, to around Rs50 crore.
Tata Industries had extended financial support to Zurich-based Institute of Polytechnic, which conducts research and development for flexible photovoltaic cells.
Chaukar said that if the technology were to click, Tata Industries would take a significant stake in the 100MW solar power plants that the institute would set t up. Tata Industries has a plan to set up a 120MW solar power plant by 2010, for an estimated Rs600 crore.
Chaukar said that under the program, Tata Industries had also funded four people from from IIT Kharagpur and Kanpur, who are trying to develop unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), which was the project funded for Rs60 lakh.
Chaukar said that initially they wanted to fund only Rs20 lakh, but the project needed more funding, and hence the investment went up. He said that a top defence official recently saw the prototype of the UAV, and has offered to ''purchase the entire production''.
He said that subsequent to this offer, the IITians have requested additional funding of Rs5 crore, which Tata Industries is ready to give.
Chaukar also said that a professor at Harvard University is working on a 'fluid' technology through which one can know a person's health profile. He said once the technology is fine-tuned, Tata Industries could invest up to Rs1,000 crore in the project ''depending on the terms and conditions.''
Tata Industries has also invested Rs80 crore in the area of drug discovery, supporting research into diabetes and metabolic dysfunctions. The company also invested in biopharmaceutical company, Indigene.