In a bid to foster innovation and disruptions in the technologically challenged oil and gas industry, a number of state-run oil firms have joined hands to launch an innovation fund to support more than 30 energy startups. Led by the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan, the initiative is part of the Startup Sangam scheme.
On Wednesday last week, Pradhan announced the launch of the scheme which aims to pump $49.3 Mn (INR 320 Cr) into selected startups over the course of three years. The initiative is in line with the government’s Startup India programme.
The innovation fund has been created with investment from Indian Oil Corporation, ONGC, Engineers India, Oil India, Numaligarh Refinery, Bharat Petroleum Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, Gail (India), Balmer Lawrie and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals, among others.
Commenting on the development, Pradhan stated, “Around 25% of the incremental demand of the world for energy will come from India. At the same time, we intend to reduce our import dependence. It will not happen without innovations especially in alternative fuels.”
As revealed by Pradhan, the innovation fund will be used to back startups working in various fields related to energy such as solar power, converting waste plastics to petroleum fuels, multipurpose fuel from agricultural waste biomass as well as leak detectors for LNG cylinders.
For its first phase, the fund is looking to pour a total of $6.7 Mn (INR 44 Cr) into 11 energy startups, with the ticket size of investment ranging anywhere between $61,734 (INR 40 Lakh) and $386K (INR 2.5 Cr). Shortlisted tech startups will be given 30 months to come up with a proof of concept. Startups with business ideas, on the other hand, will get 18 months.