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Science and Startups-IISc Bangalore-pic 1 - CopyThis article was published in The Times of India on July 23, 2016.

‘Complete ecosystem needed to foster startups’

BENGALURU: Despite being the start-up hub of the country, neither has Bengaluru nor any other state been able to achieve a complete entrepreneurial ecosystem especially in the field of science. Compared to the world, India continues to float on an unsteady base of scientific entrepreneurship driven towards social change.

Whether it is due to a lack of willingness among entrepreneurs in colliding with scientists or an inadequate support base from the government, India has perhaps had difficulty in translating scientific ideas into entrepreneurial ventures.

As part of the 53rd Popular Lecture Series, the IISc Alumni Association invited Prof Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann professor, Harvard University to highlight the shortcomings of the entrepreneurial environment in a developing country like India.

“Primarily, the country needs a conducive investor mindset which draws away from the profit-making mentality and enables some amount of risk capital for a particular venture to grow,” remarked the professor. He added that the reason science and entrepreneurship is doing well in the United States is because of “the available infrastructure and the focus on intangible assets that supports and funds scientific ventures.”

Having headed the advisory commitee on building an entrepreneurial ecosystem in India for the Niti Ayog, Khanna believes the onus is on policy makers to ensure an immediate availability of requirements for start-ups like risk capital (investments), adequate public funded research, logistics and Business schools.

But the job of an incubator is no less either. He explained, “Incubators could perhaps start curating ideas themselves and leaving it open to the budding entrepreneurs to work on them. While the job of the incubator is to collide different stakeholders to make the idea a reality, they could perhaps engineer the brainstorming on the areas of innovation. With a developing like India seeing so many family businesses running the show, perhaps these families could become incubators themselves to launch new age innovations in the start-up world.”

The professor broke down the requirements and recommendations made in his report to the government.

He said, “At the first layer, we need an immediate stimulus to guarantee innovation. Next, we require an enabling environment (entrepreneurial ecosystem) to incubate these ideas, which also requires certain educational reforms and finally, the need to address the cultural context of the very environment is also necessary. With adequate research and funding, the trends in social entrepreneurship could see a change.”

Start-up scenario in other countries

“The United States has a well-knit publicly funded R&D facility provided for the social entrepreneurs. Furthermore, it starts at the university level. Adding to this, the immigrant community in the country adds greatly to the start-up percentage.

In Israel, Military funded ventures along with innovation incubated at University levels create a conducive start-up environment.

On the other hand, taking an example of a country as small as Chile, the country has attracted immigrant communities to launch start ups in the country itself, thereby growing the start-up community there exponentially,” said Prof Tarun Khanna.