India’s startups are going great guns. The country ranks number three on the global map for startups, which are also generating jobs in large numbers for India’s growing young workforce. However, there are more than 20K startups in the country today but only 200 incubators and 70 accelerators. The gap in the number of startups and ecosystem elements to support them is huge.
States across India are stepping in to fill this gap by implementing policies and taking initiatives to propel the growth of startups. One such state that’s taking the lead in creating a robust startup ecosystem is Gujarat. The Gujarat government, with its policies and schemes, accelerators and incubators, is doing all it can to support the dreams of aspiring entrepreneurs and give them wings of reality. The state, which has recognized 184 startups to date, is looking to facilitate 2,000 startups by 2021.
Gujarat holds the distinction of many firsts — it was the first state to announce an IT startup policy in June, 2016 and went on to become the first to introduce a Student Startup and Innovation Policy in January, 2017. The State’s consistent efforts towards taking initiatives for startups have even been recognized at a national level — in 2017, Gujarat received the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration for successful implementation of the Centre’s Startup India programme.
Now, to further amplify its support for startups, the Gujarat government is organizing the Vibrant Gujarat Startup And Technology Summit (VGSTS), 2018, from October 11-13.
Vibrant Gujarat Startup And Technology Summit (VGSTS) 2018: Enabling An Ecosystem
The Vibrant Gujarat Startup and Technology Summit 2018 is a major initiative of the Gujarat government aimed at building a cohesive startup destination in the state and is a precursor to the mega Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, scheduled to be held in January 2019.
The VGSTS 2018, which will be held in the capital city of Gandhinagar, seeks to provide a platform for startups to create or at least initiate ideation around technology-enabled innovations that can solve India’s pressing problems. It will also serve as a ground for stakeholders from the startup and technology ecosystem to come together and brainstorm on their common goal of building India as a startup destination of the world.
The Summit is expected to see participation from across the globe and a footfall of 40K people, including 400-500 national and international delegates, 2,500 participants, and more than 600 exhibitors.
The Gujarat government is leaving no stones unturned to make the Summit a success, complete with roadshows and making the right noise around it.
One of the key highlights of the VGSTS is the Vibrant Gujarat Grand Challenge, in which startups stand to win prize money worth $423.7K (INR 3 Cr) in all, besides the chance to make a real change in India with their tech solutions. The challenge is inviting solutions to solve problems and improve things across categories such as Agritech, Fintech, Smart and Shared Mobility, Women-Centric Solutions, Manufacturing 4.0, Governance 2030, Maritime and Military Intelligence, Healthtech, and others.
Another highlight of the Summit is the Tech Exhibition, which will showcase digital solutions, ideas, innovations, new products, and visions, as well as unite companies and countries, investors and innovators, projects and decision-makers to facilitate partnerships, fundings, innovations and more.
The Summit will also host the TIS Talks (Technology Innovation Startup Solutions), which are being organised to kickstart open-ended conversations for one-to-all networking with the larger aim of enabling better synergies among the ecosystem stakeholders.
What Makes VGSTS A Sought-After Destination For Startups?
The Vibrant Gujarat Startup And Technology Summit 2018 is a one-of-a-kind initiative by an Indian state government that focuses on startups while looking at the bigger picture of solving India’s problems through technology. It seeks to create a win-win situation for all — for startups it is providing a platform to showcase their ideas and innovations while raking in much-needed projects and funding, for investors it is a chance to discover vibrant startups, for the government and other stakeholders, it is an opportunity to increase synergies with the startup ecosystem and join hands to improve the lot of important sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, education, mobility, etc.
The Summit will provide startups a plethora of opportunities. Some of them are:
- The opportunity to create viable IT-enabled innovation ecosystems worldwide
- Opportunities to network with angel investors, incubators, accelerators and other ecosystem stakeholders
- Opportunities for mentoring, funding, networking with business giants and policymakers
- A chance for startups and aspiring entrepreneurs to display their proofs of ideas(PoC) at the summit and get them evaluated
- An intra- and inter-country platform that will facilitate experiential learning for startups
- A chance to interact with well-known experts, who will address a range of challenges and doubts related to entrepreneurship. Some of the speakers at the Summit are Debjani Ghosh, president, NASSCOM; Murali Talasila, partner and Innovation Leader, PwC; Rajan Anandan, MD, Google India, and more
- Opportunities to demonstrate their ideas and products at the Tech Exhibition so the attendees can experience next-generation technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), IoT, Blockchain, Big Data, and more
Gujarat Govt’s Initiatives To Strengthen Startup Ecosystem
For any real development to occur in any sector, it is essential for governments to implement policies and schemes conducive to the growth of that industry. The Gujarat government understands this very well and has put a host of initiatives and policies in place to fortify the startup ecosystem in the state.
To begin with, take the Gujarat Industrial Policy 2015, which seeks to assist startups by promoting innovation and technology transfer. It also seeks to create a complimentary flow of proactive policies, a strong institutional setup, and dynamic participation of industry and academia in the ecosystem.
The scheme, which is part of the State’s New Industrial Policy, facilitates any individual or group of individuals with an innovative idea. So far, 33 Nodal Institutions have been recognised under this scheme to facilitate startups. And, 184 startups have been recognised and funded by the State Government.
Apart from assistance in terms of mentoring at the idea stage, the following are the key highlights of the scheme:
- INR 10,000 per month as Sustenance Allowance for one year for the project, which is recommended and approved by the institution’s Screening Committee
- Up to INR 5 Lakh to the recognized Nodal Institution for mentoring service annually
- Based on approval of the Screening Committee, up to INR 10.00 Lakh to be provided for cost of raw material/components and other related equipment required for the innovative process of new product development (Prototyping Assistance)
- Marketing and publicity assistance of up to INR 10 Lakh for the introduction of products created by individuals and groups in the market (Marketing Assistance)
Gujarat was also the first state to announce an Electronics & IT/ITeS Startup Policy in 2016. This policy, implemented under the state Department of Science and Technology (DST), aims to promote 2,000 new ventures in the state by 2021. The policy also seeks to attract an investment of INR 7,000 Crore for the ecosystem. Under the policy, the government:
- Provides financial assistance of up to INR 2 lakh and INR 5 lakh for obtaining national and international patents respectively
- Gives a power tariff subsidy of INR 1 per unit to new ventures, along with 50% of the electricity duty back for five years
- Provides 25% equity-linked financial assistance from venture capital funding.
- Offers INR 15 per square feet per employee lease rental assistance to startups
- Offers 100% discount on stamp duty, registration fee, product development and marketing assistance, and some other incentives up to seven years
Student Startup Innovation Policy 2017: Youths are the most valuable asset of a nation or a state. Honing their skills and providing a channel for their talent is one of the best ways to ensure their optimum growth. Youth, in turn, fuel the progress of the state. The Student Startup and Innovation Policy (SSIP) under the Commissionerate of Technical Education of the Gujarat government is a first-of-its-kind policy aimed at providing Innovation and Pre-Incubation Ecosystem Support for Students (IPIES) across the state of Gujarat.
As part of the initiative, a state innovation fund with a corpus of $29.3 Mn (INR 200 Cr) will be provided to the students during the next five years. Apart from this, the policy will:
- Benefit 1.4 Mn students in the state by supporting 1,000 innovations per year
- Build 200 educational institutes over a period of five years and nurture at least 500 student startups in the next five years
- Enable filing of at least 1,000 patents from universities in the state every year
- Support at least 1,000 student-led innovations per year
- Strengthen the spirit of innovation in Gujarat’s youth
- Create an environment for creativity to flourish and an end-to-end support system in educational institutions so as to support ideas for better execution
By bringing together the three pillars of steady socio-economic growth — youth, entrepreneurship, and industry — in a symbiotic relationship, the Gujarat government has set in motion an upward spiral of growth for the state. And Gujarat is transforming into a groundswell not just for business creation but also has the noble aim of creating businesses that solve India’s problems at large.
Initiatives like the Vibrant Gujarat Startup And Technology Summit are an essential part of the startup revolution that are paving the way for small dreams to grow big in India. And startups looking to make a mark in India should certainly book their seats for the event.