The Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (“SISFS”) aims to bridge the funding gap faced by startups at the seed and proof of concept stage
The startup must have a business idea to develop a product or service with a market fit, viable commercialisation, and scope of scaling
To identify the most deserving startups for SISFS, a clear and straightforward set of criteria has been established
The Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (“SISFS”) is a government initiative to provide financial assistance to early-stage startups in India. The SISFS aims to bridge the funding gap faced by startups at the seed and proof of concept stage. SISFS provides grants to eligible startups through incubators across India.
The SISFS is open to startups that are recognised by the department for promotion of industry and internal trade (“DPIIT”) and incorporated not more than 2 years ago at the time of application.
The startup must have a business idea to develop a product or service with a market fit, viable commercialisation, and scope of scaling.
The SISFS will help early-stage startups to validate their business ideas and develop their products and services. This will enable them to attract further investments from angel investors, venture capitalists, and other financial institutions.
Need For SISFS
The Indian startup struggles to obtain sufficient funding during its early stages, especially in the seed stages. The capital needed during this phase can often determine whether a startup with a strong business idea will succeed or fail.
Providing seed funding to promising startups can have a significant ripple effect. It can help validate the business ideas of many startups, leading to job creation.
This financial support benefits not only individual startups but also the entire Indian startup ecosystem, ensuring that promising business ideas are not stifled by a lack of early-stage capital, fostering innovation and economic development in the country.
Eligibility Criteria For Incubators
To become eligible, incubators must be registered as legal entities, have a minimum of two years of operational experience, and have the physical capacity to accommodate at least 25 individuals.
Additionally, they should have a full-time chief executive officer with expertise in business development and entrepreneurship, along with a capable team to mentor startups in various aspects.
The selection process for incubators is comprehensive and evaluates various parameters as determined by the Experts Advisory Committee (“EAC”) such as:
- Eligibility criteria fulfilment
- Quality of the incubator team
- Infrastructure capacity
- Presence of an Incubator Seed Management Committee
- Past incubation performance
- Funding support
- Mentoring efforts
- Industry engagement
- Startup support plans, and other relevant factors
Stringent Criteria For Incubators Without Government Assistance
For incubators that haven’t received government support, the eligibility criteria are more stringent, requiring at least three years of operation, a minimum of ten startups undergoing incubation, and the presentation of audited annual reports for the past two years.
The selection process for incubators under SISFS is designed to assess their capabilities and track record comprehensively.
Selection Criteria For Startups
The application process involves online submissions through the startup India portal. Startups can apply to up to three incubators of their choice, and the applications are shared with the respective incubators for evaluation.
Incubators assess startups based on the established selection criteria to determine their eligibility for seed support.
To identify the most deserving startups for SISFS, a clear and straightforward set of criteria has been established:
- Need for the Idea: Startups must address real-world problems, fill market gaps, and demonstrate potential impact.
- Feasibility: The technology or methodology used must be practical and capable of validation, supported by a clear development plan.
- Potential Impact: Startups should benefit customers and, when applicable, hold national significance.
- Novelty: The technology or idea must possess uniqueness and may include special rights or patents.
- Team: A strong and capable team with the right expertise is crucial.
- Fund Utilisation Plan: Startups must present a clear plan for how they intend to use the seed fund.
- Additional Parameters: Incubators may consider other relevant factors in their evaluations.
- Presentation: Effective communication of the idea is vital.
Startups are eligible to receive a grant of up to INR 20 Lakhs to support proof of concept, prototype development, or product trials. This grant is distributed in milestone-based installments.
Additionally, startups can access up to INR 50 Lakhs for activities related to market entry, commercialisation, or scaling, which can be provided through convertible debentures or debt instruments.
It’s essential to emphasise that the funds must be used exclusively for their designated purpose and not diverted for creating facilities. Incubators have the authority to allocate a maximum of 20% of their total funds to startups.
The interest rate on any unutilised funds held by the incubator is taken into account and adjusted in the subsequent release of funds by DPIIT, ensuring efficient utilization of resources.
This SISFS carries immense potential for nurturing the Indian start-up ecosystem. It empowers early-stage start-ups to validate their concepts and develop their products or services, thereby enhancing their attractiveness to angel investors, venture capitalists, and other financial institutions, and ultimately fostering innovation and growth in the sector.