Prime Minister Modi’s Startup India initiative has been helping young startups turn into successful ventures. With the tax exemption policy and ease in getting patents, starting up has indeed become easy. However, only for those who have already started/launched their ventures.
Young people with new ideas and no resources are still clueless about starting-up, let alone think about getting into funding and taxes. While there are mechanisms and support available for R&D and also for commercialization, it is the early stage prototyping where the support is currently deficient.
Giving them due attention, Department of Science and Technology has launched a 100 crore program to support young startups. To be launched under the umbrella programme National Initiative for Developing and Harnessing Innovations (NIDHI), this fund will help nurture ideas and innovation (knowledge-based and technology-driven) into a world-class startup by giving them in terms of both funding and incubation support.
What’s NIDHI Prayas is doing?
National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB) of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India has promoted over one hundred Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Parks (STEPs) and Technology Business Incubators (TBIs). STEPs and TBIs, are primarily housed in and around academic, technical, management institutions, technology and research parks to tap innovations and technologies for venture creation by utilizing expertise and infrastructure already available with the host institution. Many of these STEPs and TBIs have an in-house seed funding mechanism supported by NSTEDB &Technology Development Board (TDB).
Seed funds, by their very nature, tend to focus more towards commercialization and market side of ventures, rather than on the technology development, idea formation, proof of concept, proto typing, IPR and other knowledge side of the innovative startup an clients of the incubators. There is a definite need to address the gap in the very early stage idea/ proof of concept funding.
The NIDHI-PRAYAS program focuses on addressing the idea to prototype funding gap. This program would attract a large number of youngsters to come forward to try out their ideas without actually worrying about the failure. Eventually, such an approach would bring in a large number of potential ideas into the incubation programs, thereby increasing the flow of quality incubatee to the incubators. NIDHI-PRAYAS is positioned as a preincubation initiative.
What NIDHI-Prayas will achieve?
Under this scheme, the department plans to set up 10 Prayas centres across incubation centres supported by it. The other schemes include NIDHI Seed Support System for funding early-stage startups and NIDHI Centres of Excellence, which will help startups go global.
Harkesh Mittal, head of the National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board at the Department of Science and Technology said, "DST will soon revise the total funding limit to startups at supported incubators from up to Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore. The revised investment limit is soon to be implemented."
DST, which has so far supported 100 technology-focused incubators across the country, plans to support another 15-20 incubators this year.