INDIA’S vibrant start-up ecosystem has been largely dominated by software-led companies and e-commerce firms, attracting the attention of customers and investors alike. The hardware segment, though much more inter-disciplinary—involving elements of software, electronics, semiconductor and design all rolled onto a common platform, has been lagging behind. However, a growing numbers of initiatives within the ecosystem could act as growth boosters for the hardware segment.
NXP Semiconductors recently unveiled its Innovate in India strategy to stimulate the country’s electronic system design and manufacturing (ESDM) industry. It has introduced two technology platforms—WaRP7 and Hexiwear—which have all the elements of motherboard, sensors, electronics and software for anybody to build their products.
Explaining the rationale for coming out with these two platforms, Ashok Chandak, senior director, global sales and marketing, NXP Semiconductors, said, “We found that people were spending too much of time in making the basic components. So we thought we can do something to enable faster product creation.”
He believes NXP’s new platforms will enable entrepreneurs, startups and even SMEs to focus on critical things where they can add value. According to Chandak, by adopting these platforms, the time to market and development costs come down, and more importantly, it allows the start-ups to focus on their core value creation and go-to market strategy. “Our approach is very clearly contributing to the Make-in-India programme of the government,” he said.
The two technology platforms of NXP are focused on the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables segments. These are projected to be big growth segment not just globally but also in India. The IoT market in India is expected to touch $15 billion by 2020 with 2.7 billion connected devices from the current level of $5.6 billion and 200 million connected units, according to a recent report by Nasscom.
These platforms are nominally priced between R5,000 and R8,000. NXP will also provide constant support in terms of software upgrade and solving any other technical queries.
In a similar vein, Nasscom’s 10,000 Startups programme has provided a fresh impetus to the hardware space. It has launched a new initiative called TechMarch—an eight-city tour inviting applications from smart hardware start-ups in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Cochin, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi and Kolkata. Along with Nasscom, Kalaari Capital, Robert Bosch, Microsoft Accelerator, Buoyanci, Tata Elxsi and various hardware accelerators, communities and makerspaces of the country are supporting TechMarch.
“Start-ups in the hardware space have started to disrupt the ecosystem. This is also because of the PM’s Make-in-India programme which gave them the much needed push to further prosper,” said Rajat Tandon, vice president, Nasscom 10,000 Startups. “TechMarch is an effort to provide a strong support to hardware innovators in the country and help them grow in an efficient way.”
The programme will select five winners in the smart hardware space from over 300 applications received so far. Start-ups will be provided technical, marketing, and financial support besides leadership skills to build their applications and businesses.
“Areas like IoT, wearables are still a barren land. It is now left to the visualisation and ideation of the entrepreneurs and start-ups to come out with innovative solutions,” said Chandak.