Apart from the encouraging vibes, the latest statistics too tell us that Indian business ecosystem is bubbling with the new era of startups. Particularly, the bioscience sector has witnessed a constant dynamic situation with one latest report even putting the numbers at 1022 startups during the last few years only. The report, “India’s Biotech Start-Ups Ecosystem” by the Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises (ABLE) says that Rs 18,700 crore investments happened in just five years from 2012 to 2016.
“There have been remarkable changes in the confidence levels of startups. The new age entrepreneurs are visibly smarter than their predecessors. Perhaps the environment is friendlier now. The government policies are encouraging with more investors turning towards the sector,” said a Delhi based Consultant of the Angel Network that has funded few startups in the space.
If the home-grown praise isn’t enough, let’s read the words of Mr Yigal Erlich, Founder of Israel’s Yozma Group and the man behind startup movement in his country. “The world changed after India gave it the zero (0). India is known for its contribution to invention and innovation. There is a lot that Israel and India can learn from each other. After overseeing an entrepreneurial and innovation revolution in Israel, I am glad to be able to share our learning and interact with budding entrepreneurs and innovators of India. India is poised to become a major biotechnology hub in the world and sustained support is crucial,” he had mentioned during his visit to India last year.
And the best startup city is………
The ABLE’s report puts Bangalore as the biotech start-up capital of India hosting 190 of the 1022 biotech start-ups formed in the last five years. At the same time, the National Capital Region (NCR) ranks second with 164 startups followed closely by Mumbai (163) and Hyderabad (160). So are the dynamics witnessing change.
If we look at the comfort levels, the Bengaluru seems to be the first choice of most of the young. The city’s entrepreneur friendly environment has attracted them to begin operations. May be the climate is a factor too. Hyderabad which hosts the Genome Valley is another favorite spot down south. However, it hasn’t attracted the startup crowd as much as Bengaluru.
Delhi being the national capital should have been the ideal choice. The metro link to Gurgaon and Noida where most of the IT companies are based, could have hosted incubators but this hasn’t really been possible until now. The Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi has been the birthplace for many bioscience startups because of the presence of FITT.
Last but not the least, India’s economic capital, Mumbai is also fast emerging as a choice due to its reputation. Only concerns in the city have been the expenses and lack of enough incubation spaces.
The presence of research institutes and especially the ones that promote startup culture, are also a reason behind the rise of new age entrepreneurs who mostly draw strength from the alma maters.
Yet why are we a sleeping giant?
A look at the Israel’s startup culture will make anyone go gaga over the policies of the nation’s concerned authorities. In the last two decades, even the tiny nation such as Cuba boasts having more than 300 biotechnology centers. The country’s western Havana biocluster alone employs 12,000 workers and more than 7,000 scientists and engineers.
Comparatively, we as a nation with billion population have been struggling with enough business ideas. What is holding us back? Are we lagging because of enough support or it is just that we are not ready to take risk?
One factor that has been repeatedly told by our first-generation entrepreneurs is that they faced pressures from bureaucracy at those times who refused to acknowledge that a successful industry could be established. These startups, however few, came up as their founders persisted through struggles and ended up with modern day multi-million enterprises.
While our top experts, ministers and bureaucrats have been praising the biotechnology and other related sectors as big opportunity areas yet we have every right to be skeptical. The praise at home doesn’t have to always be taken at the face value, critics might say.
“We cannot go overboard in our aspirations as it is not just a pipe dream. We must back it up with a good enabling environment and regulatory setup that is fair enough to help us realize our goals,” mentioned a veteran from the industry while hinting towards the pending policy action points.
Indian’s huge biodiversity and traditional knowledge remains unused. The potential has not been explored in the past due to reasons that go beyond normal discourse.
Ingredients of startup success
♦ Founders are driven by passion and commitment
♦ Commitment to stay the course and stick with a chosen path
♦ Willingness to adjust
♦ Patience and persistence
♦ Willingness to observe, listen and learn
♦ Develop the right mentoring relationships
♦ Domain specific business knowledge
♦ Balance of technical and business knowledge