New Delhi: Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India, said here today that the government needs to create platforms for entrepreneurs and innovation to flourish in the country.
In his keynote address at a workshop on ‘Indo-U.S. Startup Accelerator’ organized by FICCI in partnership with the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum and Department of Science & Technology, Nilekani said the UID platform was created after looking at the two successful innovations that took place in the US namely, internet and GPS. Both became platforms for numerous entrepreneurs and startups. However, he added that both these platforms initially were funded publically.
Citing the example of Aadhar Card, he said, platforms lead to expansion. Aadhar cards have led to creation of an infrastructure of unique identity of people, digital authentication of a person, electronic KYC (Know Your Customer) and capability of creating a financial address.
The workshop signifies the joint commitment of all partners to create an enabling ecosystem for the young and dynamic startups from India to make the big leap. It will demonstrate the impact of rightful guidance and mentorship provided to the startups to facilitate the process of their becoming future market leaders.
Dr. T. Ramasami, Secretary, Department of Science & Technology, identified financial support, access to market, material and technology as the challenges that the entrepreneurs and startups face. It is often seen that funds are easily available to already established entrepreneurs. However, startups find it difficult to acquire seed funding.
He said that the government and entrepreneurs should learn and gain from each other’s experiences. Startups have the advantage of being sensitive to the needs of the place and can be a part of the development process. They already enjoy economies of scope but need to expand economies of scale.
Ms. Nancy J. Powell, US Ambassador to India, in her special address, said, “Entrepreneurship is the engine for global economic growth and increased productivity of workers in any economy. This is true for both developed and developing economies. The challenge for governments and private stakeholders is to provide an environment where entrepreneurship can flourish and where entrepreneurs can quickly bring their ideas and products to market. Entrepreneurs are by nature risk takers and sometimes their ventures fail. Many successful entrepreneurs achieved their success on their or fourth attempt to start a viable business.”
She emphasized that it is the entrepreneurs in clean energy, medicine, advanced manufacturing, information technology, robotics, nanotechnologies and other fields who will build the new industries of the 21st century, and solve some of our toughest global challenges. The startup ecosystem should allow for such failures and not result in dire consequences such as drying up of funding sources.
As the world becomes more interconnected, and more countries become knowledge-based economies, it is no longer optional – but essential – for public and private enterprises to collaborate across borders. “We live in exciting time where economic and social challenges can be overcome by human ingenuity. We look forward to continuing our work with the Indian government on promoting a collaborative entrepreneurial environment. The potential for mutual benefit through our cooperation is limitless,” Ms. Powell pointed out.
While moderating the session, Samuel Kotis, Deputy Minister Counselor for Environment, Science & Technology Affairs, US Embassy, said that the there is a need to increase the success rate of startups. The Indian and US government must support entrepreneurs and etsblsih a network with entrepreneurs and startups.
Rajiv Sharma, Executive Director, Indo-U.S. Science & Technology Forum, said that in India a series of workshops are being organized in collaboration with the US to promote entrepreneurship and startups in the country. At present, US$ 5 million is committed for 11 projects under the Indo-US collaboration.
Manav Subodh, Global Manager for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, and Higher Education at Corporate Affairs Group, Intel, said that there is a need to create an ecosystem where entrepreneurs are allowed to fail without being reprimanded. It is necessary to realize that failures are bound to happen but one must look at a failed entrepreneur as an experienced entrepreneur.
He said that startups will come and go but entrepreneurs will stay. Hence, one must build a relationship with the individual entrepreneur because he will have many more innovative ideas to explore and work on. The government can formulate policies, programmes and fellowship for entrepreneurs. He also warned against falling into the monkey trap. An entrepreneur should let go off an idea if it does not work.
Dr. Arbind Prasad, Director General, FICCI, said, “The entrepreneurial fraternity has seen remarkable surge in the funds being pumped into their growth. The first quarter of 2013 saw 55 deals and 16 acquisitions with disclosed deals amounting to $140 million. Whereas, the second quarter has seen 70 deals with declared investments amounting to $240 million.”
He added, “India, fortunately, is in a position where there is no paucity of innovation, and we pride ourselves in ‘jugaad’ or incremental invention with topical benefits. The United States on the other hand has always been detrimental in steering the entrepreneur community and innovation society attracting about 70 per cent of global VC investments.”