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Only 11% tech investment in deep tech startups

India’s deep tech startups need higher seed and early stage funding to grow faster as only 11 per cent of technology-related funds reach this ecosystem as of now, National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) president Debjani Ghosh said on Friday.

Deep tech or deep technology startups are enterprises that work in the area of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, quantum, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), drones and augmented reality (AR).

Speaking at a workshop on ‘Startups and Entrepreneurship: Vision India@2047’, organised by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) under the Ministry of Commerce, Ghosh pointed out that of the total 25,000-plus tech startups in the country, only 3,000 are related to deep tech that account for only 12 per cent.

India has some excellent deep tech startups working across the entire range of emerging technologies, but only 11 per cent of total technology-related funding is going to deep tech, she said.

Countries like China and the United States are prioritising their funds to the deep tech startup ecosystem because this sector is driving innovation for their country, according to her.

The deep tech startup ecosystem is not equal to the tech startup ecosystem, Ghosh stressed, pointing out that their life cycles are different.

Investors and regulators should understand that deep tech startups take longer to get to the product market space because it has to spend time on research and innovation.

She suggested creation of a ‘startup service’ on the lines of mandatory military service in countries like Singapore.

“Can we say in the third or fourth year of engineering (course), you (students) have to go and work one year in a tech startup? This would help tech startups access the best talent and compete for it with big companies,” the tech industry veteran said.

“Talent pool is there but problem is access to the talent,” Ghosh pointed out.

“We have to move towards risk-based regulation,” she said, adding that patents and talent are absolutely critical for the deep tech startup sector.

There are only around 485 “truly inventive” deep tech startups in India, she said and suggested growing this number ambitiously to 10,000 by the end of this decade. PTI

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