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With the aim to create and provide support to disruptive start-ups, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of the Bharat Fund (Better Health, Agriculture, Renewables and Technologies) at the India-US Startup Konnect 2015.
Organized by Nasscom in partnership with The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) and the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad's (IIM-A) Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), the day-long event, on the margins of Prime Minister’s visit to the Silicon Valley, highlights Indian innovation through the eyes of more than 40 Indian start-ups in impact areas such as agriculture, health, energy and other technology areas exhibiting their work.
Driving its name from Bharat (India), the Bharat Fund is an endeavour to create and scale up innovative solutions for India. It aims at catalyse over $150 million for innovative Indian start-ups through a venture fund. In addition to the capital, the fund would provide technical assistance to the entrepreneurs. Further, the venture fund aims to rope in corporates, financial investors and donors to contribute towards strengthening the impact-innovation ecosystem in India.
The event saw stalwarts of the Indian and US entrepreneurial ecosystem like - Reid Hoffman, Executive Chairman and Co-founder, LinkedIn; Naveen Tewari, Founder & CEO, InMobi; Kanwal Rekhi, Managing Director, Inventus Capital Partners; Ratan N. Tata, Chairman, Tata Trusts and founding partner of the Bharat Fund; and Naren Gupta, Venture Capitalists, Nexus Venture Partners, USA. Amongst those, who announced their support to this partnership include - Government of India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Department of Science and Technology and Tata Trusts.
Further, both Indian and US-based organizations will join hands to promote entrepreneurship in key areas. IIM Ahmedabad’s CIIE announced collaborations with organizations like University of California Berkeley, Google and Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator to promote entrepreneurship in impact and technology areas. Moreover, TiE and NASSCOM announced their partnership to support entrepreneurs in the Valley and India. About 7 MoUs (Memorandum of Understanding) were signed at the event.
Here are 5 key takeaways from Modi’s speech at the India-US Startup Konnect:
1. Bringing government, academia and corporate together: Bharat Fund is an endeavour to bring together government, academia and corporates to create an enabling ecosystem and encourage youth to solve India’s key problems by providing them risk-capital, prototyping support, guidance and market-access.
2. Bridging rural urban divide: In today’s time most of the start-ups are creating solutions for urban elites. If one looks at the start-up investment trends over the last 18 months, a miniscule part of total investments in India has gone into areas like healthcare, agriculture, energy or affordable technologies for the masses. With the help of Bharat Fund, one can bridge this gap.
3. Shifting focus towards impact areas: The current Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem is more geared towards e-commerce and solutions for urban privileged consumers, due to which our entrepreneurs and investors miss serving the real Bharat. Now Bharat Fund will enable a significant support towards start-ups in impact areas.
4. Creating scalable solutions: India needs disruptive ideas and technologies to revolutionise the lives of the masses. Entrepreneurship is one of the most effective means of creating scalable solutions and Bharat Fund is aimed at creating and scaling up innovative solutions for India.
5. Lighting up the fortune of people in rural India: Start-ups are said to be the catalyst in lighting up the economies and the fortunes of people in rural India. Now with the launch of the Bharat Fund, tech entrepreneurs working closing with the real Bharat to enable them to stand for better health, agriculture, renewable and technologies can receive huge support in developmental areas through prototyping, scale-up funding and in creating conducive environment and ecosystem to thrive.
India’s own ecosystem of startups is evolving rapidly. It is driven by the energy, enterprise and innovation of youth. The convergence of technology, integration across diverse fields, distributed architecture and people willing to back an idea, have opened a new world for enterprise in India. Not just only big names, but small firms are fashioning every day new ways to enrich human life with the joy of artists and creators.
PM Modi believes that startups, technology and innovation are effective instruments for India’s transformation, and for creating jobs for youth. He said, "We are a nation of 800 million youth below the age of 35 years. They are eager for change; have the energy and drive to pursue it; and, the confidence to achieve it. When each of the 500 odd towns produces 10 startups, and each of our six hundred thousand villages produce 6 small businesses, on a regular basis, we will create an enormous economic momentum and generate a huge number of jobs in our country."