India has the third largest startup ecosystem in the world. With a projected 55,000 startups by 2021 and somewhere around 40 unicorns, the vibrant ecosystem has seen the most growth in the last half of the decade. Naturally, the incubator/accelerator landscape is expanding alongside these startups to cultivate and support the early stage companies as they grow. The scene has changed from research parks to specialized accelerators spreading into the Tier 2 cities after establishing themselves in other cities and educational institutions.
The increasing pace of entrepreneurship in the country has been placing higher expectations on accelerators, both from the startup founders and governmental bodies. Added to this complexity is that the world is in the middle of a pandemic, and many people have had to shift the way they do things. To help us understand these changes, MathWorks partnered with Atal Incubation Centre-Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini (AIC-RMP) to bring together a virtual round table event focused on the “Evolving Role of Incubators/Accelerators in Fostering Startup Ecosystem – Past, Present & Future.”
MathWorks and AIC-RMP joined hands to create a podium for executives from ecosystem enablers – accelerators and incubators. A panel curated with diverse personas from players like government, academic, corporate, and private incubators was formed. The objective was to bring together these executives and share insights on the roles of different types of accelerators, investor expectations, challenges faced by the ecosystem, and more. As host, MathWorks also shed light from the point of view of a technology provider, supporting over 200 accelerators and thousands of startups around the world.
Sunil Motwani, Country Manager Sales and Service at MathWorks India, welcomed the panelists and the audience before the event began with a keynote from Mr. Ramanan Ramanathan, Mission Director at Atal Innovation Mission and Additional Secretary at NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) – a flagship national Innovation and entrepreneurship initiative launched by the Prime Minister Govt of India. In particular, he discussed global disruptions created by the COVID-19 pandemic and how advancements in technology have supported us to overcome this crisis. As he’s previously written about, he called out the continuous need for innovation through entrepreneurship as the key behind seeing through such times.
The keynote was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Uday Wankawala and comprised of many influential members of the startup ecosystem. The panelists included Ashok Chandavarkar, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Intel India, Kritika Murugesan, Director at NASSCOM 10,000 Startups, Dr. Nikhil Agarwal, Chief Executive Officer of FIRST @ IIT-Kanpur, Souad Tenfiche-Ancelle, Chief Executive Officer of NUMA, and Sanjay Gopinath, Head of Marketing & Communication at MathWorks India.
Some of the takeaway points from the round table included:
- It is key for a founding team to fall in love with the problem at hand, instead of focusing on just the end product or solution, which can slow down the growth of the startup
- Providing the same type of market access, mentoring support, and enterprise connections during virtual incubation, and continuing to provide long-term support for startups based on their changing needs
- Collaboration efforts between startups, corporate partners, and investors to build the ecosystem, showcase the startup solutions, and build a global market
- Addressing local challenges and needs, and evolving to pivot with changing times
The event concluded with a talk from Sanjay Mehta, Founder & Partner at 100XVC. Sanjay brought in an investor’s perspective speaking directly to startups on delivering the perfect pitch. Given insights to the critical aspects that investors look at, the audience took away the importance of the founding team, market fit, business model, and IP.
The virtual round table was held on December 18th with attendees from 80+ cities consisting of startups, students, accelerator and incubator representatives, academicians, corporates, and government officials. This was a first such event in MathWorks effort to create a platform to share best practices; aimed to benefit accelerator management and startups to make the right choices, technology companies to evolve their offerings to this ecosystem, and encourage shared ideas through discussion.
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