An Overview of the Indian Entrepreneurial Ecosystem for Science-based Start-ups

An Overview of the Indian Entrepreneurial Ecosystem for Science-based Start-ups © iStock/ALLVISIONN

Entrepreneurs and start-ups play a key role in addressing ever-evolving challenges such as healthcare, education, environment pollution in India through research, technology and innovations. It is a common phenomenon among Indian entrepreneurs to focus on low cost frugal innovations yet with a highly functional impact.

India is the third-largest start-up ecosystem in the world with almost fifty thousand registered start-ups and annual growth of 12-15% (year).  The start-up ecosystem boasts of a vast network of institutional investors, accelerators, and incubators, clustered predominantly in cities with a high urban population and standard of living. Close to 500 start-ups in fields of med-tech, life sciences, biotechnology, deep-tech etc have emerged out of scientific research in cities such as Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai and Hyderabad.

The research innovation sector is evolving, thanks to various government initiatives, research incubators run by academic institutions, private innovation and research parks. Furthermore, large public funding is available for commercialisation of research etc.

Some of the government initiatives are:

Start-up India

Start-up India is the largest public platform offering information on policies, funding schemes, programs & challenges. It offers access to a network of more than registered 1,40,000 start-ups and 700 incubators.

The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP)

The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) promotes research in life sciences by offering grants and mentorship to over 80 research-based start-ups in fields ranging from agriculture, pharmaceuticals and medical diagnostics. The centre is supported by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC)

The Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), funded by DBT, bridges the gap between industry and academia where young researchers can commercialise their innovations by receiving early-stage funding and enterprise connections among their national and global partnerships. They have currently supported more than 850 start-ups.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST)

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) supports leading academic institutions to found Technical Research Centres. One such centre at JNCASR, focuses on start-ups with high-risk technology and – high potential for global markets. The centre received in 2019-2020 approx. 4 Million Euros for 41 new projects.

Furthermore, there is a strong innovation and incubation ecosystem flourishing at higher education institutions.  University research incubators such as the IIT Madras Research Park support early-stage research start-ups by providing access to infrastructure, mentorship, scale-up strategy and seed-funding. Other institutions such as the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) have set up Technology Transfer Offices to improve the potential of commercialising internal research projects to viable business models and securing relevant intellectual property rights. etc.

"India today is an innovation hub which offers your research, a great market for scale with talent and resources at an optimized cost and most importantly an open market to set up, collaborate and co-create."
Amrita Gandikota, German Indian Start-up Exchange Program (GINSEP) Representative, India

For an overview of the German entrepreneurial ecosystem for research-based start-ups, click here!