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A Look At The Sunrise Sectors For Collaboration Of Indo-German Start-ups A global Indian start-up must look beyond the US and Silicon Valley and consider other European countries

By Diksha Dutta

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Entrepreneurs across the world have been intrigued by the Indian start-up scene lately. What is even more fascinating is the opportunities that a niche start-up hub like Berlin (in Germany) could have with India. Berlin, home to around 2,000 start-ups has done substantial work with India in the recent past in unique sectors which has laid a strong foundation for disruptive collaborative ideas between Germany and India.

Being an Indian-global start-up is not just about working in the US or with Silicon Valley, it is also time that India looks at countries in Europe. And Europe looks at India.

This year, in particular, has been good news for various Indo-German start-ups. Sample this:In March this year, it was announced that The Make In India Mittelstand (MIIM), an initiative by the Embassy of India has so far mobilized around €650 million to be invested in India. Presently, the initiative is facilitating 72 German SMEs to enter the Indian market out of which 41 German companies are into an advanced stage of their investments in India.

The enthusiasm is not just with the government, but also some of the German multinational giants like Bosch in India who are looking to collaborate with start-ups that work in the areas of mobility solutions, smart manufacturing, smart cities, med-tech, agri-tech, and energy. For either of the two countries to work with each other, strategic partnership is the premise. One can only understand the ecosystem of another country by having a local partner.

We had a look at some sunrise sectors where the two countries have potential to work together and why.


Post the emphasis on demonetization in India in November 2016, the opportunities in the Fintech sector in the country have substantially increased as middle class Indian consumers have moved to cashless transactions. The Consul General of India in Frankfurt, Mr. Raveesh Kumar, tells us, "Phrases like lending/borrowing of Bitcoin, blockchain technology and smart money sharing are becoming increasingly common amongst the "app savvy' population in India and Germany, and we believe that such technology will be the norm in the near future."

With an aim to capitalize on the growth story of India in the realm of start-ups, the Indian Consulate in Frankfurt organized an event in February this year on Fintech, titled "India's Fintech Moment: Opportunities for Germany's Start-ups & Investors'.


In Germany, there is a need to collaborate and outsource when it comes to the healthcare sector, but it is not happening at a large scale right now. Maren Lesche, Communication Manager at Etventure Start-up Hub in Germany said, "Sectors like healthcare and fintech are regulated in Germany and there is a huge scare related to sharing data with the health insurance companies. A lot of start-ups tried to handle telemedicine in the last three years but there have always been some boundaries.

However, the new bill is coming and it does open some opportunities. Now is the time when excellent tech expertise is needed in the healthcare sector in Germany. There is potential in areas such as virtual reality, big data and telemedicine.

There are many start-ups that are already good with business modeling, but the tech factor is still missing. We have many accelerator programs and we often see Indian teams applying, who have great tech expertise and knowledge. Technology expertise in executing high-value healthcare products is a super sweet spot for all Indian entrepreneurs and start-ups." There are big healthcare companies like Sanofi and Pfizer in Berlin.

Transport/Mobility/Machine Learning

These are some of the most talked about sectors where Germany and India can collaborate. Murali Nair, Senior Project Manager, Program Germany and Asia, Bertelsmann Foundation says, "There is lot of scope for India and Germany to collaborate in the field of automobile, sustainable energy as well as renewable energy. Germany is strong in transport infrastructure and automobile, on the other hand, India needs it." Even Bosch India recently hosted its second Indo-German boot camp, on Transport and Mobility in Bengaluru, which had numerous start-ups pitch their ideas and top ten were selected.

Professor Peter Kabel, who has already invested in nine start-ups in India and is the Founder of the seed fund The Asian E-Commerce Alliance (AECAL), has an interesting observation to make, "There might be a next technology push or trend in the area of machine-learning or artificial intelligence for Indo-German start-ups. The cultural adaptation is not as much in machine-learning as it is in other areas because the undermining technologies for machine-learning are quite abstract. For example; the language recognition in Hindi can easily be switched to German. It applies certain set of rules and you can easily train the system to learn German rules of language. With this assumption, I think there can be a new wave of relations between the countries in this area."


Yes, there is scope for partnerships in Aerospace, Defense and Newspace between India and Germany. ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) has had several partnerships with German research groups and universities in the past.

Divyanshu Poddar, Co-founder, Rocketeers Research Institute says, "We also saw the pioneers of Newspace in India partner with German companies to improve their tech capabilities and service clients. Germany has a more robust regulatory framework, which can help India set up its own regulation and structure for the industry".

Another example is Dhruva Space, an Indian company founded by Abhishek Raju which has signed an MoU with a German, private satellite manufacturing company- Berlin Space Technologies to jointly develop new small satellite platform for India and elsewhere. "For the space industry in Germany, India is a natural partner, and we are leveraging this natural fit to create value on both sides of the ocean, " he says.

Social Entrepreneurship

Across sectors, German companies and the government are doing work in the social sector in India. While governments find it a little easier to tap into the social sector and work with non-profit organizations, there is still a long way for corporates to do this efficiently.

Manuela Pastore, Head of the global team for the German pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim who works closely with the social sector in Indiasays, "A concrete collaboration between a corporate and a start-up could be an outcome, but not the overall and main achievement. From my experience there is a huge potential not used yet to bring corporates and start-ups together - besides the events that already happen."

She suggested that there is lot of scope in formats like social sector specific accelerator programs where the corporates and start-ups could work together.

Considering what the two countries are already doing together in the start-up ecosystem, the Consul General of India in Frankfurt, Raveesh Kumar summarizes that there is a strong point of convergence in the start-up environment between India and Germany and believes that start-ups are the new bonding blocks where the younger generations of both countries have found synergies.

Diksha Dutta

Business Columnist and Digital Media Expert

Diksha Dutta is an author, an independent journalist and a digital media expert. Based in Berlin, she is intrigued by the startup scene in Europe after writing extensively on the Indian ecosystem. After a six-year stint as a full-time business journalist with publications like News Corp, since 2015, she has been writing independently on startups for international media publications. She is working on a book on the startup ecosystem with Bloomsbury Publishing which brings together fascinating stories of over 50 entrepreneurs across the globe. She believes that leadership communication coupled with a healthy team culture is the backbone for any company, and conducts customized workshops on these topics. She has a passion for storytelling and following tech innovations in the global startup ecosystem. 


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