Ramesh Hariharan, 32
In school, Ramesh Hariharan found biology boring. But once he became a computer science professor at the Indian Institute of Science, he got excited about the race to map the human genome. So he cofounded Strand Genomics in Bangalore, where he designs software tools to efficiently analyze the ever increasing volume of data about the makeup of genes. One U.S. customer is applying Hariharan’s data-crunching innovations to proteomics—the analysis of protein structures to aid in the discovery of new drugs. Strand Genomics expects to grow from 35 to 100 employees this year. Wearing another hat, Hariharan also works to bridge the digital divide. With colleagues from the university and from a local software firm, he started the nonprofit Simputer Trust to develop a simple, cheap (under $200), portable, battery-operated computer to bring the Internet to the developing world. The trust’s first targets are rural Indian village schools, hospitals or community centers that have phone lines. Villagers get smart cards that give them access to a shared Simputer, while touch-screen icons and the Dhvani text-to-speech system Hariharan developed empower illiterate users.