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Naveen Jain

Naveen Jain has spent the bulk of his entrepreneurial career developing Internet search technologies, from the early days at InfoSpace to the founding of online background check service Intelius.

But Jain is now putting his time (and money) into very different pursuits, including space travel and digital health. In fact, Jain is now promoting the “Digital Doctor X-Prize Challenge” — a $1 million competition in which technologists are encouraged to develop a system in which a “minimally trained person” can accurately diagnose respiratory problems, water-borne illnesses and other diseases.

But it doesn’t stop there. The Internet entrepreneur — whose career has been marked with controversy — also writes on his Web site that he’s trying to develop “Neuroscience based multi-sensory video games” that will be used to teach kids math, science and history. (Reading, he says, is not a natural way for humans to learn). And then there’s Jain’s new role as co-founder of space exploration company Moon Express, which is attempting to mine the moon for precious metals. (We previously wrote about that effort in April).

Jain — who founded InfoSpace in 1996 after a 7-year stint at Microsoft — has always been a passionate and driven entrepreneur (some may say too much so). But what’s sparking all of the new ideas?

The 51-year-old tells VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi that he grew up very poor in India and that the U.S. has given him an opportunity to impact billions of people through innovation.

“I find that if I can use the innovation and entrepreneurship to make an impact on billion people’s life I will have done the best I could do in terms of giving back and pay my debts,” Jain tells VentureBeat, adding that “there’s no problem that’s large enough that could not be solved through innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Here’s Takahashi’s interview with Jain:

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