Industry-academia stalemate may hit startups
Mini Tejaswi

The biggest missing piece in India’s startup story is the lack of communication and inadequate connect betwe?en industry and academia. The deadlock between these two will hurt the country’s tech startup ecosystem, wh?ich is the third largest in the world, Nasscom, cautions in?d?ustry apex body.

The industry-academia st?alemate is nothing new. It has been there since 1970s when the first generation tech startups like TCS, Inf?osys and Wipro. It continu?ed when the internet era began in 1999-2000. And it co?ntinues even when the co?u?ntry is poised for dream-run in deep technologies like artificial intelligence, analytics, blockchain, machine le?a?r?ning, 3D printing and internet of things.

KS Viswanathan, Nascc?om vice-president (industry initiatives and head of startup), told Financial Chronicle it’s not that industry and academia are not doing anything in deep domains. “In fact, they are actively incub?a?ting and accelerating tech st?artups and supporting th?e?ir growth, but all in silos. The issue is the no-taking sc?e?nario is continuing even when the mutual interacti?on between industry and academia is critical for growth of the digital economy. It’s the only sad side of India’s startups story. Industry academia partnership and dialogue is a must for startup to get funds, flourish and scale up,’’ he said.

Nasscom on its own has been working to bridge the communication gap betw?e?en industry and academia. It has set up centres of excellence in Bangalore (IoT & data sciences), Hyderabad (data sciences & cyber security), Gurgaon (IoT), Gandhi Nagar and Visakhapatnam (IoT).

“We have created these ce?ntres of excellence as a common platform where all stakeholders – industry, academia, entrepreneurs, students and funding agencies – can come together, intera?ct and understand each other’s requirements. We are seeing some improvement in communication,” Visw?a?n?athan said.

According to Nasscom, advanced technology startu?ps were growing at a compounded annual rate of 30 per cent, with artificial intelligence (AI) being one of the key growth segments. Nasscom has a mandate to help create 10,000 startups by 2023. India has ov?er 5,500 tech startups. Ev?ery year as many as 1,400 new startups are happening of which 27 per cent are in Karnataka.

Last year, Indian startups received $3.8 billion investments. A major chunk of it came from China and Ja?p?an. Startups in northern st?ates received 34 per cent of these funds, south 31 per ce?nt and the rest of investments were shared by startups in other states.

“The startups revolution is a different kind of a tsunami. If the first generation te?ch startups took decade to clock their first billion dollar revenues, many of these new generation companies are capable of going unicorn in the first 3-5 years. It’s pu?rely internet driven, ramp up is extremely rapid and the market is also favouring th?em with a large populati?on of consumers already go?ne online to buy things,” Na?sscom vice-president said.