San Jose: The Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, announced the launch of the Bharat Fund, which aims to create and provide support to disruptive startups in impact areas like agriculture, health, energy and other technology. The announcement was made at the India-US Startup Konnect organized by NASSCOM, TiE Silicon Valley and IIM Ahmedabad’s Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), on the sidelines of Mr. Modi’s visit to the Silicon Valley. Amongst those who announced their support to this fund include Tata Trusts, Government of India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and Department of Science and Technology. The fund aims to raise over US$150 million for innovative Indian startups and provide technical assistance to entrepreneurs.
Bharat Fund is an endeavor that brings together government, academia, corporate, financial investors and donors to create a favorable ecosystem and encourage the youth to solve India’s key problems by providing them risk-capital, prototyping support, guidance and market-access.
“Start-ups are the engines of progress. The mega corporations of today were start-ups of yesterday. The difference now is that the digital age has created a fertile new environment for Startups and an idea can become a global name within a year. The convergence of technology, integration across diverse fields, distributed architecture and people willing to back an idea, have opened a new world for enterprise,” said Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi.
“We want Bharat to stand for ‘Better Health, Agriculture, Renewables and Technologies’ and look forward to working closely with the Government, Indian and global corporates, universities and foundations in this mission to incubate and scale disruptive solutions for India’s masses,” said Ashish Nanda, Director, IIM Ahmedabad.
“India needs disruptive ideas and technologies to revolutionize the lives of the masses. Tata Trusts believe entrepreneurship is one of the more effective means of creating scalable solutions and we are delighted to be a partner in the Bharat Fund,” said Mr. Ratan N. Tata, Chairman, Tata Trusts. Tata Trusts are a Founding Partner of the Bharat Fund.
“The government has a role to play where there are market failures or perceived risk by private sector is very high. It is our role to mitigate this risk through policies, enabling infrastructure and developmental-capital – but we can be just a catalyst. The private sector, financial investors and foundations need to come forward and help us bring about this change – at the same time creating sustainable value for themselves,” said Amitabh Kant, Secretary, DIPP.
“Tech entrepreneurship has the power to create sustainable and scalable solutions for most of India’s problems. However, the ‘valley of death’ for solutions for the masses is huge and entrepreneurs find it very difficult to scale up. If one looks at the startup investment trend 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. Most startups are creating solutions for urban elites. Through Bharat Fund, we want to bridge this gap,” said Kunal Upadhyay, CEO, CIIE.
Stalwarts of the Indian and US entrepreneurial ecosystem like Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Naveen Tewari (InMobi), KanwalRekhi (Inventus) and Naren Gupta (Nexus) were present at the India-US Startup Konnect event to discuss various aspects of entrepreneurship. “It’s great to have impact areas in focus during the Startup Konnect. The current Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem is more geared towards eCommerce and solutions for urban privileged consumers and significant support for startups in impact areas is required through initiatives like Bharat Fund,” said Jaydeep Mandal, Founder of Anandi Pads, a low cost solution for menstrual hygiene for rural India.
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