CHENNAI : Indian Institute of Technology Madras’ (IIT Madras) Centre for Research on Startups and Risk Financing (CREST) hosted an International Confluence Conference on Startups and Innovation from 13th to 15th December 2023. This unique conference served as a global platform for scholarly discourse, bringing together a diverse array of experts, researchers, practitioners and policy makers from across the world
The ‘Indian Startup Ecosystem and Investor Platform’ was launched during the inaugural session on 13th December 2023 by Shri Sivasubramanian Ramann, Chairman and Managing Director, Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), in the presence of Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, and Mr. Gopal Srinivasan, Chairman and Managing Director, TVS Capital.
The Information and AI platform, developed in partnership with YNOS, an IIT Madras-incubated start-up, contains comprehensive information on about 1,96,000 Startups, 10,800 angel investors, 4,800 VCs, 965 Incubators, 102 Govt. Schemes for start-ups, and 560 institutions for loan funding, making it the most comprehensive platform for start-ups and investors.
This is the only information platform in the Indian context that captures the complete spectrum of funding options available for early stage start-ups. Apart from information, the platform also contains various AI driven tools such as startup valuation and investor connection tools for entrepreneurs.
Addressing the valedictory Session today (15th Dec 2023), Dr. PTR Palanivel Thiagarajan, Hon’ble Minister of Information Technology and Digital Services, Government of Tamil Nadu, said, “The notion of an advanced economy is that it should also have a very efficient capital market. If I take the US as an example, there was every kind of risk-return profile in the investment community, and therefore, available to entrepreneurs, businesses, Government and real estate developers. Capital was available to finance risk at varying levels. In the start-up space, there were hundreds of billions of dollars available at the angel investing level and in other stages to finance start-ups at different stages of their journey.”
Speaking on ‘Expectations from Start-ups and Innovation’, Dr. PTR Palanivel Thiagarajan added, “In Tamil Nadu, we have a decent track record that should be the envy of many States. Part of that is built on our century-long history of focus on education and creation of the kind of human talent and human capital that is capable of benefiting from the waves of new technology, from the opening up of global markets, from opportunities that come up as a function of disruptive or transformative changes in the industry. In particular, as a Government, we try our best to ensure that our philosophy of equitable access and social justice is implemented, even in the start-up and innovation ecosystem. We have targeted funds for SC/ST entrepreneurs and women with all our training programs are also geared to those parts of the community that do not get access to equal education opportunities”
Further, Dr. PTR Palanivel Thiagarajan said, “I have visited the IIT Madras Research Park several times and I have been impressed with the innovation and incubation ecosystem that exists there. Now, I also find that the other side of the equation, viz., research and thought leadership on the Indian ecosystem is also very strong. Financing is a very important component of the start-up story and I must congratulate IIT Madras for having the foresight to set up something like CREST.”
The Indian start-up ecosystem has led to the emergence of 6 decacorns and more than100 unicorns and continues to be the third largest tech startup ecosystem after the U.S. and China. With its prominence in the global arena as a key centre for startups and Innovation, the Indian startup ecosystem is set to take the baton of development in the subcontinent and win over the world, creating history.
Highlighting the important outcomes, Conference Coordinator Prof. Thillai Rajan A., Head, Centre for Research on Startups and Risk Financing (CREST), IIT Madras, said, “The objective of CREST is to be a globally renowned centre for research on start-ups, innovation and risk financing. Apart from undertaking cutting edge research projects and various studies for the government, CREST has also built India’s most comprehensive information platform for the start-up ecosystem, thereby fulfilling the long felt need of such an information platform for the entrepreneurs and other stakeholders. By bringing in the power of information within the easy reach of entrepreneurs, the platform democratizes start-up formation and funding. This platform would also meet the data requirement needs of the faculty members and research scholars for cutting edge research.”
Further, Prof. A. Thillai Rajan, also a faculty in Department of Management Studies, IIT Madras, added, “A total of 81 presentations with participants from more than 25 institutions were presented at the conference on various topics related to start-ups and innovation. By bringing in the top research scholars working in the area of start-ups and innovation, the conference has spurred numerous opportunities for collaboration. Such collaborations between academia, industry and government would further the next phase of the Indian start-up ecosystem.”
Prof. Mahesh Panchagnula, Dean (Alumni and Corporate Relations), IIT Madras, also spoke on the occasion.
India has been ranked among the top three in the global start-up ecosystem, aided by proactive government policies. Recognizing the importance of start-ups, governments, institutions, and societies worldwide actively support and nurture entrepreneurial ecosystems to drive innovation, economic growth, and job creation.
Addressing the inaugural session, Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, said, “India can become a superpower by 2047 only if there are more employers than employees. Higher education institutions have a very important role in making that happen. Therefore, creating, nurturing and supporting start-ups should be a part of every higher education institution. In addition to returns and wealth creation, start-ups can play a very important role in finding a solution for various problems through innovation. The difference between the start-up ecosystems here and overseas is the availability of organized data. The information portal developed by CREST and YNOS, an IIT Madras incubated start-up addresses this gap.”
The conference was aimed at Policymakers from National and State governments, Entrepreneurs, Venture Investors such as angels and VCs, academia in the Business and Management disciplines, and Researchers and Ph.D Scholars.
Ecosystem enablers such as Incubators, Accelerators, Mentors, Innovators such as scientists and technology professionals and Corporate Managers, specifically in the innovation and startup cells also stood to benefit from this conference. This conference hosted over 200 global attendees from political parties, industries, practitioners, startups, as well as academia and government.
Speaking later, Shri Sivasubramanian Ramann, Chairman and Managing Director, Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), said, “The ‘Indian Startup Ecosystem and Investor Platform will feature start-up companies giving their profiles and investors taking a look at where their interest lies. There is a lot of money provided by the Government through a host of Government funds and there are State Government funds which very few people know of. So, we are at the right time where we have put all this information together. I think it is very important that we bring much more information from different parts of the country. Incubators Centre is another very important area where SIDBI puts their money in.”
Mr. Gopal Srinivasan, Chairman and Managing Director, TVS Capital, added, “A case study on SIDBI, could be a good idea as it could spur more money into savings…SIDBI represents 5 to 8% of funds, in my mind, that have been invested into start-ups in India. They have given Rs. 10,000 crore of commitments, drawn down Rs. 5,000 crore. SIDBI’s ‘Fund of Funds’ is one of the greatest instrument in creating a VC ecosystem in the country and in supporting start-ups.”
A unique aspect of this conference was the policy and practitioner track that accompanied the academic track, to facilitate the confluence of all stakeholders in the startup ecosystem.
The first two days of the conference featured technical presentation sessions, plenary talks and a gala networking dinner. The third day of the conference was devoted to panel discussions, keynote talks, and in-depth fireside chats with speaker-scholars drawn from academia, government, investors, ecosystem enablers, and startup founders.