Innovation boost: Giving wings to Indian social startups

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Published: October 24, 2019 2:13:15 AM

INVENT programme has provided seed investment and incubation to numerous social ventures.

Launched in July 2016, INVENT initiated its ground operations in December 2016 by incubating four startups. Since then, its reach and impact have both grown immensely.

Indian startups are reaping the benefits offered by INVENT, a UK government supported programme that is being implemented by the Indian government’s Technology Development Board. In the period between April and September 2019, the three government-affiliated INVENT incubators—SIIC-IIT Kanpur, IIM Calcutta Innovation Park, and CIIE Initiatives-Start Up Oasis— have invested Rs 8.5 crore in 31 new social enterprises. Overall, the programme has facilitated Rs 34 crore investment in 139 Indian ventures through its implementing incubators; 58 have also received follow-on investments totalling Rs 133 crore from leading venture capital firms.

Key follow-on investments have been received by some promising social enterprises including Dehaat (Rs 50 crore from Omnivore, Trifecta Capital and Angels), Nocca Robotics (Rs 12.5 crore from IAN Fund & Angels), Medcords (Rs 7.5 crore from Infoedge, Waterbridge and Angels) and 5C Network (Rs 4.5crore from Villgro, Unitus, Axilor & CIIE).

The Innovative Ventures and Technologies for Development (INVENT) programme is spearheaded by Villgro as a lead incubator. It has been empowering startups across various sectors in eight low income states of India—Rajasthan, MP, UP, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal.

Mohammad Azhar, programme leader, INVENT at Villgro, said, “Around 5 years ago, small-scale social enterprises operating in industries such as livelihood and skill development or agriculture and allied did not have active investors. After the implementation of INVENT, we have seen a stark growth in the number of investors taking an interest in these sectors.”

Launched in July 2016, INVENT initiated its ground operations in December 2016 by incubating four startups. Since then, its reach and impact have both grown immensely. It has played a major role in incubating and empowering 160 startups across India’s low-income states. Currently, 80 industry experts and corporates leaders are providing mentoring and hand-holding support to these startups which subsequently provide market connects, follow-on investments and national/international networks for their sustainability.

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