Govt envisages common grants for deep tech startups

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By Our Special; Correspondent

New Delhi, July 31: In a bid to spur deep tech startups, the Centre in a draft policy has unveiled plan for a common grant framework until such enterprises attract private investments. The draft policy, which is seeking public feedback, aims to build on a deep tech startup ecosystem to help nudge economy to become knowledge-based.  

“To boost Indian deep tech startups addressing national priorities, a common grant framework should be established across Government Ministries. Grants at two stages, Proof of Concept (minimum Rs 200 lakhs) and Tested Prototype (minimum Rs 300 lakhs), will support technology validation and market testing,” stated the draft policy, which has been uploaded by the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Thematic funds will address vulnerability, with sector focused initiatives like Defence Technology & Test Centre. “This approach draws from successful programs like iDEX, involving the entire Government in an innovation validation ecosystem. It is critical to ensure the Government’s funding support at the pre-commercial stage to Indian deep tech startups,” added the draft policy.

According to Startup India’s database, there are 10,298 DPIIT-recognized startups classified across various sub-sectors within the larger deep tech space as of May 2023. “This policy proposes an increase in Gross Expenditure on R&D to provide renewed impetus to basic R&D, which would expand (a) the emerging science base for deep tech startups and (b) the critical base of trained scientific human resource. It also aims to suitably amend the existing research assessment practices at academic institutes and research labs to enable translation of knowledge outputs into entrepreneurial outcomes,” added the draft policy.

The policy also envisages enhancing technology commercialisation through seamless partnerships between academic institutions, research labs and industry, besides platforms and technology commercialisation offices within academic institutes and research labs.

“The policy promotes setting up an Open Science and Data Sharing platform for encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing among the stakeholders to promote deep tech innovations. It also aims to incentivise faculty members, through suitable amendments in their appraisal and assessment policies, to undertake entrepreneurial risk,” stated the draft policy, adding that it is critical to strengthen India’s Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Regime by establishing a Single Window Platform that enables Unified IP Framework, customised for deep tech startups.

It also stated that the policy aims to create a platform to capture lifecycle of government grant payments, direct Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds to science-based research institutions, a thematically-focused Fund of Funds (FoF) dedicated to deep tech investments, synergized grants framework across Ministries, a pilot test fund, use of Technology Impact Bonds to invite investment from the general public and philanthropic entities.

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