The Startup India initiative, which commenced in 2016 has created a culture of innovation, risk-taking and entrepreneurship in the country. It has led to India becoming second in innovation quality and emerging as the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world, with over 99,000 Department for Promotion of Industrial and Internal Trade (DPIIT)-recognised startups registered as on May 2023. Indian startups have been at the forefront of researching and developing innovative solutions for socio-economic purposes in 56 diverse sectors, including healthcare, IT services, agriculture, defence and BFSI.
The rapid growth of the Indian startup ecosystem can be attributed to the three pillars of the startup India initiative:
- Making startup administrative work more accessible through policy changes.
- Providing funding and incentives.
- Creating incubators and accelerators to foster partnerships between different stakeholders in the ecosystem.
As per a 2020 NASSCOM report, there are over 520 tech incubators and accelerators in India, and they run a combination of academic, public, corporate and private entities. They also guide founders in running a business, raising funds and networking. India also has the third-largest number of accelerator programs in the world.
Also, accelerator and incubator-induced global collaborations are propelling India’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Global partnerships with different countries and organisations offer startups access to new markets, mentors, investors and best practices. For instance, India’s largest incubation centre T-Hub has supported more than 1100 startups since its inception in 2015. It has helped the startups raise approximately USD four billion in capital.
Accessing International Markets
Accelerators and incubators help initiate strategic global partnerships with varied corporations, government entities and other incubators and accelerators. They can connect two ecosystems to help startups enter new markets and offer them a lifeline to survive in new markets. Such partnerships will help startups to gain insights into local business practices, regulations and cultural nuances, which are crucial for entering new markets.
The one-year partnership of T-Hub with the Indo-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IFCCI) will boost bilateral tech startup innovations, help strengthen the innovation ecosystem and offer access to local ecosystems, peers and industry experts.
Exchanging Technology & Innovations
In the age of rapid technological advancements, collaboration often yields innovative solutions that transcend geographical boundaries.
Accelerators and incubators act as catalysts, forming alliances to facilitate the exchange of technology and innovation to keep up with global research and developments.
For example, platforms like Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), bring together startups, investors and industry leaders from around the world. The platform allows all entrepreneurs and startups to showcase their innovations, learn from international peers and identify areas of collaboration that can lead to groundbreaking products and services.
T-Hub has joined hands with the U.S.-based Redberri to set up an innovation centre in the U.S. The bilateral venture will allow cross-border innovation, the transfer of technologies, the joint promotion of outreach programs and activities and offer soft landing opportunities for India and U.S.-based startups in the U.S. and India, respectively.
Tapping into International Investment Networks
Gaining access to investors and securing funds is challenging for startups. Accelerators and incubators help startups secure funding opportunities by forging partnerships with international investors. Startups that gain access to international investment networks through collaborations accelerate their growth and expansion.
For example, the T-Hub and Pontaq partnership offers the startups growth and funding opportunities in India and the U.K. Pontaq is a cross-border innovation fund investing in early-stage tech startups across U.S., U.K. and Canada. Under the collaboration, Pontaq will be an investment partner, enabling T-Hub incubated startups.
Gaining Support from Global Mentors
Learning from the experiences of global entrepreneurs and industry experts is a critical component of startup growth.
Accelerators and incubators have recognised this and organise events and programs to help entrepreneurs enhance their skills, gain new perspectives and adopt best practices to contribute to their overall success.
For example, T-Hub has partnered with the U.S.-based technology accelerator FalconX to create a Global Immersion Program. The selected startups are exposed to master classes on entrepreneurship, technical and leadership mentorship sessions, pitching sessions with venture capitalists and corporate executives, as well as networking events. The cohort-based program aims to help Indian tech startups to launch their B2B products or services in the U.S. market.
Building Reputation & Soft Power
Beyond the economic impact, global collaborations serve as a means of soft power, enhancing the reputation of India’s startup ecosystem. By participating in global startup programs, startups gain recognition for their innovation and technological prowess, attracting attention from the global media, investors and industry leaders.
T-Hub’s initiatives under T-Bridge include Launchpad, India Market Access Bridge, Trestle and Global Bridge Canada-India. T-Hub has partnered with organisations across North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia to help international startups scale globally and help them access markets in India and other emerging geographies.
The global collaborations forged by the accelerators and incubators have not only enabled startups to access new markets and funding but have also positioned India as a dynamic hub for innovation on the global stage.
 IFCCI partnership: https://www.ifcci.org.in/news/n/news/ifcci-signed-mou-with-t-hub-20.html
 T-Hub – Pontaq Partnership: https://telanganatoday.com/t-hub-pontaq-partnership-to-support-startups
: Global Immersion Program: https://telanganatoday.com/t-hub-announces-global-immersion-programme-for-tech-startups