Bengaluru-headquartered venture capital firm Chiratae Ventures has announced the launch of its Innovators Programme aimed at shining the light on deeptech innovation in India
The Innovators Programme aims to support seed and early-stage high-impact startups. It’s said to represent Chiratae’s enabling Indian startups by solving the three key problems:
- Bridge to markets, both local and global
- Access to a high level of mentorship
- A robust supply chain of capital
Chiratae will focus squarely on the deeptech sector and will shortlist 20 startups for the two-day immersive programme. The deeptech startups will engage with leading industry experts in immersive sessions and learn about opportunities to scale their business in India and abroad. Chiratae will also invest in some of the shortlisted deeptech startups.
The criteria for selection for the Innovators Programme are solidity of the idea, profile of the founders, ability to scale and global relevance. The sectors Chiratae will be focusing on include robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, IoT, AI, NLP, blockchain, cloud and quantum computing, aerospace and outer space, among others.
Apart from Chiratae’s leadership team, the programme will host tech experts, industry evangelists to create a high-level learning and knowledge-sharing experience. Further, corporate brands are also partnering with Chiratae for this programme and will share their deeptech knowledge and provide access to markets.
Among these, Amazon Web Services is a key collaborator for the Innovators Programme by Chiratae and will provide entrepreneurial support to startups through perks and discount offers from key solution providers in the areas of marketing, HR, chatbots, cloud credits among others.
The deeptech Innovators Programme is scheduled for April 6 and 7. Sudhir Sethi, chairman and founder of Chiratae Ventures, said, “As investors, we need to reinvent in order steer India into its next growth phase. Through this DeepTech Startup Innovators Programme, we aim to bridge the gap that seed and early-stage start-ups are facing in terms of accessibility to talent, mentorship and capital.”
Chiratae Ventures, formerly known as IDG Ventures, was founded in 2006 by Sudhir Sethi, TCM Sundaram and Manik Arora. It focusses on early-stage startups and has close to 75 ventures in its portfolio, including the likes of Nestaway, Myntra and Bounce.
The company has already made several investments in deeptech. Its portfolio includes healthtech startup Axio Biosolutions, AI-powered diagnosis and screening platform SigTuple, AR-based edtech and edutainment startup PlayShifu, immuno oncology-focused biotechnology company Zumutor Biologics, children’s robotic learning aid maker Emotix.
Deeptech Ecosystem Needs Booster Shot
In its Annual Tech Startup Funding Report for 2019, DataLabs by Inc42 noted that VCs and angel funds preferred to play it safe in the deeptech sector. The total funding for deeptech in 2019 was $136.14 Mn, which is slightly lower than the $152 Mn in 2018. While in the context of the overall ecosystem, the fall is not that significant, for the nascent deeptech sector, it’s a big drop.
India’s deeptech ecosystem is plagued by a number of hurdles such as the lack of high-skilled workers, having to compete with global tech giants, the relatively low-level of readiness among Indian businesses and SMEs for deeptech products, weak and tedious intellectual property framework and the lack of R&D spending by the government. With stakeholders like Chiratae taking up the onus, the deeptech ecosystem might just have a better 2020 than 2019.