The biggest challenge start-ups usually face is attracting investors and scaling up operations. The challenge is much bigger in the case of agri start-ups. Buoyed by the response to its first accelerator programme for agri start-ups, the National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM) is launching its second edition of accelerator programme christened ‘Agri Udaan’ for start-ups in food and agriculture segments. Managed by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, ‘Agri Udaan – Food and Agribusiness Accelerator 2.0’ will help select start-ups scale up operations in the agri value chain. It is in collaboration with a-IDEA, IIM-A, and CIIE in partnership with Caspian Impact Investment and supported by DST. The programme focuses on catalysing scale-up stage food and agribusiness start-ups through rigorous mentoring, industry networking and investor pitching.
In the pre-launch phase of the programme that began in 2015, the NAARM had incubated several new start-ups, which are now processing exotic grains, manufacturing kinetic farm machines, and developing smart irrigation systems. The companies include Hyderabad-based Inner Being, which processes locally-grown and exotic millets and caters to the high-end wellness market. Another start-up, FlyBird Innovations in Bengaluru is developing smart irrigation techniques based on soil temperature, atmospheric humidity and water availability.
Kinemach, a company mentored under the Udaan programme is developing a new range of farm machinery that mimics human tasks on the field – from plowing to weeding. Each of these companies also managed funding between `60 lakh and `1.3 crore from corporates and venture capitalists, said Vijay Nadiminti, chief operating officer, a-IDEA, a part of NAARM. Cumulatively, the three start-ups received funding to the tune of `3.1 crore. This time, a-IDEA has given a pre-commitment of `25 lakh seed fund besides a `15-lakh prototyping fund, he said. Earlier, around 38 investors had participated in the accelerator programme. This time, he expects a better response.