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Investors High On Digital Adoption, Deeptech Among other causes, one of the chief drivers of India's ongoing digital transformation has undoubtedly been the COVID-19 pandemic

By Soumya Duggal

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Digital adoption is here to stay, according to Sunitha Vishwanathan, partner, Kae Capital. She believes that all that remains to be seen is how quickly digital technologies will percolate into various Indian sectors and industries. "It's not a matter of if but when that will happen," she said.

Among other causes, one of the chief drivers of India's ongoing digital transformation has undoubtedly been COVID-19. The pandemic has pushed countries to adopt digital technologies in health and human services, and India witnessed one of the highest adoption rates, found a 2021 survey by EY and Imperial College London's Institute for Global Health Innovation.

The pandemic not only led to the imposition of several restrictions on mobility and physical contact but also introduced the country to myriad digital solutions, especially in the spaces of education, healthcare and finance, adding to the continuing rise of new startups catering to the citizens' corporal needs through virtual means. India registered a stupendous rise of 15,400 per cent in the number of startups that rose from 471 in 2016 to 72,993 as on 30th June 2022, according to recently released data by the government.

Speaking at the Annual Entrepreneur Convention 2022, organised by Entrepreneur India in New Delhi last month, Vishwanathan added, "In the last couple of years, things have changed more from the consumer perspective. Earlier, a large mass of the consumer was not used to using smartphones or accessing data digitally. Today, there are 800 million smartphone users, many hitherto inaccessible technologies are accessible and a plethora of fintech, edtech and healthtech startups have come up. We're seeing a larger number of founders who are daring to build for India."

According to Ravinder Singh, partner, Kalaari Capital, the next 24 years will witness remarkable progress in digital technologies, particularly in the deeptech space, which will observe high multiples in Applied Engineering, within roughly the next seven years, and Applied Sciences, within the next 14-20 years. "At a macro level across industries, customers are not satisfied, regulators are struggling to put regulations in the game and organisations are struggling to run themselves profitably and generate revenues sustainably. Whenever these three things happen, Applied Engineering swoops in and disrupts everything."

Singh outlined fundamental changes to look out for in deeptech in the coming years: from cloning of assets to everything in the Web3 space; how machines talk to humans in terms of a language; digital financial transactions ranging from airlines to consumer banking; and so on. "While cloud computing is already a legacy, distributed computing will soon span several areas, from citizen services to financial services. The convergence of the two will happen in less than 12 years. We should be ready for that because if we miss it, someone in Africa will do it. Not in Europe or the US, but someone in Africa will definitely work on it," he added.

Soumya Duggal

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