Four faculty members of the Computer Science and Automation Department, Vijay Chandru, Swami Manohar, Ramesh Hariharan and V Vinay were involved in carrying out several research projects with the industry through their laboratory, Percolat. One of the most interesting projects at the lab eventually morphed into defining a Simputer for the common man of the developing world.
In April 2001, the Simputer was formally launched. An early outcome of this experiment was to take the vision forward, possibly via a startup.
Sensing a change in the industrial climate in India, they started two companies,
Strand Life Sciences and Picopeta Simputers with the blessing of the council of the Indian Institute of Science. These ventures became the first two examples of academic entrepreneurship in India.
Strand Life Sciences was started in November 2000 and Picopeta Simputers started in May of the following year. In Dec 2001, the New York Times named the Simputer the biggest technological innovation of the year. The first Dewang Mehta award for innovation for IT, given by the ministry of IT, was given to the Simputer project in 2002.