A startup using drones for spraying pesticides
A startup using drones for spraying pesticides

Hyderabad: Barely after a month of launching a Tech4Social incubator for technology-based social enterprises backed by NITI Aayog under the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) project, the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT-Hyderabad) is seeing positive results of its efforts for over a year. 

Out of the 150 products that are competing in various categories for the HYSEA Awards, 17 nominations are from the social sector and a majority of them are start-ups. The number was anywhere between 2-5 for the last few years.

Speaking to The Hans India, Ramesh Loganathan, Professor, Co-Innovation, IIIT Hyderabad and Interim Head of State Innovation Cell (SIC) said, “The startups are figuring out models that are sustainable and if technology is doing a start-up, may-be they are socially minded. One interesting fact is mid-career professionals are jumping in to the social sector and for them it looks like money is not the motive. They want to achieve something which has a social impact.”

He went on to add, “Usually, entrepreneurs jump into any social venture post-retirement but of late, youngsters seeing a lot of potential for technology in agriculture, farming, livelihood related activities and healthcare as social sector problems also need technology. Though a sizable number of the start-ups are based on the commercial model, but for some, profit may not be the primary motive.”

“CIE has launched Tech4Social incubator and the MedTech accelerator programme with the support of BIRAC (Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council) with the main aim of trying to create the solution directly out of research through use of deep technology,” he said, and added, “Technology is maturing. People with high technological knowledge venturing into startups is predictable. But, people willing to do social enterprises where they may not make much money is a pleasant surprise. But they can be successful in the long-run. We are seeing one startup using drones to spray pesticides in the fields, scaling-up fast.”

In what could be a game-changer, the government as part of its initiative to nurture and enable the early stage startup ecosystem, has decided to meet the ‘HY10—Hyderabad's Hot 10 new Startups’ award winners every two weeks for the first three months through the SIC and enable them to grow to initial market traction and be ready for angel stage support offered by incubators such as T-Hub.

The SIC forms part of the State’s innovation policy. The specific shared support offered to the startups would be in the form of operational support (banking, legal, accounting), technological (platform sharing, credits) start-up boot camps (accelerator mode short workshops), startup support for mentoring/industry/investment and a single window for all state incentives, he said.

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