Govt As A Catalyst For The Startup Ecosystem
Dr Ramanathan Ramanan, Mission Director, Atal Innovation Mission, Niti Aayog apprised the audience about how the Govt is taking various steps to support new start-ups and innovation led entrepreneurs
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Dr Ramanan told that AIM is also envisaged as an umbrella innovation organization that plays an instrumental role in alignment of innovation policies between central, state and sectoral innovation schemes incentivizing the establishment and promotion of an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship at various levels - higher secondary schools, science, engineering and higher academic institutions, and SME/MSME industry, corporate and NGO levels. Long-term goals of AIM include establishment and promotion of Small Business Innovation Research and Development at a national scale (AIM SBIR) for the SME/MSME/start-ups, and in rejuvenating Science and Technology innovations in major research institutions of the country like CSIR (Council of Scientific Industrial Research), Agri Research (ICAR) and Medical Research (ICMR) aligned to national socio-economic needs.
Some quick statistics that Mr Ramanan mentioned are placed below:
- Atal Tinkering Labs – to promote creative, innovative mindset in schools
At the school level, AIM is setting up state of the art Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) in schools across all districts across the country. These ATLs are dedicated innovation workspaces of 1200-1500 square feet where do-it-yourself (DIY) kits on latest technologies like 3D Printers, Robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), Miniaturized electronics are installed using a grant of Rs 20 Lakhs from the government so that students from Grade VI to Grade XII can tinker with these technologies and learn to create innovative solutions using these technologies. This will enable create a problem solving, innovative mindset within millions of students across the country. To date, 2441 schools have already been selected for ATL Grants and by the end of 2018 over 5000 schools are expected to be operational with Atal Tinkering Labs, covering all the districts of the country. Recently the ATAL Tinkering Marathon was held in which an estimated 35000+ students participated, and 650+ of the best innovation entries were submitted for evaluation. Of these, the top 30 innovations across six different focus areas aligned with National programs from 17 states and three Union Territories have been identified for recognition. These innovations will be further handheld to see if they can be scaled up and some of them even productized. In the ATL Community Day on April 14th, 2018 more than 50000 children participated in awareness building on ATL technology-driven innovations at the ATL schools, with over 25000 of the children participating from the non-ATL labs school communities.
- Atal Incubators – promoting entrepreneurship in universities and industry
At the university, NGO, SME, and Corporate industry levels, AIM is setting up world-class Atal Incubators (AICs) that would trigger and enable successful growth of sustainable startups in every sector /state of the country, thereby promoting entrepreneurs and job creators in the country addressing both commercial and social entrepreneurship opportunities in India and applicable globally. AIM is also providing scale up support to existing incubators for scaling up their operations.
AIM is providing a grant of upto Rs 10 crores to successful applicants for setting up greenfield incubators or scaling up existing ones. The idea is that every one of the 110 named smart cities and the top 5-10 educational/ industrial institutions of every state should aspire to have a world-class incubator that will provide the youth/ startup communities in the universities/ industries opportunity to create new startups.
To date, 19 Atal Incubators have been selected. Before the end of 2018-19, we would have 50+ Atal Incubators operational. We have had over 2600 applications for the latest round of AIC selection concluded on September 30, 2017. Women led incubators and entrepreneurial startups are strongly encouraged by AIM. Again here, the longer term approach would be to scale up with the help of other ministries/ states/ sectors/ public sector organizations as this would be crucial to creating thousands of job creators in India.
- Atal New India Challenges and Atal Grand Challenges – to promote technology-driven innovations and product creation for social and commercial impact.
To promote specific product innovations with social / economic impact, AIM will be launching Atal New India Challenges / Atal Grand Challenges in specific areas and sectors of national importance - such as Renewable Energies, Energy Storage, Climate-smart precision agriculture, Universal drinking water, Swachch Bharat, Transportation, Education, Healthcare using Robotic, IOT technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Block-chain, Augmented and Virtual reality, Battery Technologies etc. Most of these areas are also aligned with the priorities recommended by the recently released Economic Survey 2017-18. The first set of 17 Atal New India Challenges (ANIC) has been launched on April 26th, 2018.
The successful applicants will get a grant of upto Rs 1 crore for Atal New India Challenges and larger grants of upto Rs 30 crores for Atal Grand Challenges.
AIM is also partnering with corporates and other institutions to launch such challenges to stimulate new product and service development in various sectors. For example, the recently held AIM-Yes Bank Transformation series 2017 Smart Agri Nation challenge had 27000 students from B-Schools of India participating in the same with high-quality presentations on the same (With inputs from AIM’s official website).