India: Silicon Valley of the future?

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India has made quite a stir internationally in the recent months. A successful moon landing, the G20 summit in New Delhi, and becoming the most populous country as well as the rise to the fifth-largest economy in the world demonstrate that India is now playing a significant role not only economically but also in the realm of science policy. But what is the driving force behind this rapid rise?

The Indian government is pursuing an ambitious plan to transform the country into a developed nation. Education, research, and, especially, technology transfer at higher education and research institutions play a crucial role in this endeavour. In just seven years, India has become the world’s third-largest start-up ecosystem. In 2022 alone, there were around 100,000 start-ups. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the technology of the hour as, of the 3,100 deep tech start-ups, a remarkable 64% are working on and with AI. For the past ten years, the Indian government has been specifically promoting start-ups to foster economic growth and create jobs for the country’s vast number of higher education graduates. With over 2.1 million STEM graduates per year, India boasts an impressive talent pool. As a result, the Indian government has been promoting the establishment of technology business incubators at higher education and research institutions, with 260 incubators currently supporting the swift transfer of research findings into commercial applications. Many Indian states are also increasingly making financial investments in this area.

Furthermore, various government-funded programmes and organisations, such as the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), the Department of Science and Technology (DST), and the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), provide support for incubators and tech startups. BIRAC has financed 74 biotechnology incubators and supported 3,500 start-ups over the last ten years, with more than 1,250 patents filed. The Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS) aims to support around 3,600 startups at 300 incubators with nearly 110 million Euros by 2025 to help them develop prototypes and bring them to market. Recently the Indian government unveiled a new deep tech start-up strategy, which aims to promote its own knowledge-based economy and technological growth in order to ensure India’s global competitiveness.

As a result of all this, the future appears promising. The extensive promotion of technology transfer, the large number of STEM talents, and targeted investments in research fields such as quantum technology, green hydrogen, and artificial intelligence are expected to form a solid basis for India to emerge as one of the leading global innovation centres in the coming years. From then on – and to some extent even now – it’s time to say: Welcome to the Innovation Hub India!


Katja Lasch

Dr Katja Lasch

Director, DAAD Regional Office New Delhi and Director, German Centre for Research and Innovation (DWIH) New Delhi  since October 2019.

This is an English translation of German article featured in the Feburary 2024 newsletter of the Zeit Wissen.