January 16 is a special day for startups in India. It was on this day in 2016 that the Indian government launched the Startup India initiative that has catalyzed the startup ecosystem. So it’s only fitting that this is the date chosen as the National Startup Day.
While we recognize that entrepreneurs have always existed in India, the Startup India programme gave a push to new-age entrepreneurship and venture creation that has only grown bigger with each passing year.
It was on January 16, 2016, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Startup India programme, a key pillar of the larger Digital India vision. And in 2022, the day marks the inaugural National Startup Day.
The Startup India Action Plan was the first dedicated government policy for startups, which looked to bring investments and grants to startups and innovation. The platform allowed entrepreneurs to register their startups, gain access to investors, secure equity-free funding, fast-track patent and trademark approval process, and comply with regulatory requirements.
Over the past six years, the programme has made investments worth over INR 8,085 Cr (~$1.08 Bn) in 550 startups from the government’s fund of funds and has committed INR 6,495 Cr (~$873.1 Mn). As per official records, more than 61,669 startups have been recognised by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
In 2013-14, 4,000 patents were approved, while in 2020-21, more than 28K patents were granted, while the number of trademarks registered has grown from 70K in 2013-14 to 2.5 Lakh trademarks. India’s ranking in the global innovation index has improved from 81 to 46 during this time.
Post the launch of Startup India, 26 state governments launched their startup policies, while overall 30 states have launched startup policies over the years, some predating Startup India.
Spurring Investors On: Another tangible contribution from the initiative is the way it drew in global investors to the India story. Official recognition for startups and their innovation through Startup India events have contributed to capital inflow.
Between 2016 and 2021, the Indian startup ecosystem has seen the launch of 20,000+ startups, with over $99.3 Bn raised through investments, as per Inc42 data.
The year 2021 was a landmark year thanks to $42 Bn being invested and 42 startups entering the Indian unicorn club, and 62 new startup funds. In 2021, India also had the second-highest number of mobile app downloads in the world, with over 27 Bn downloads.
Government policies coupled with the establishment of state-run incubators have also been key drivers of entrepreneurship into the heartland of India. The next big startups will emerge from among the 73 unicorns in India, and the early-stage growth in 2021 has been more than encouraging.
Earlier this week, industry and commerce minister Piyush Goyal had called on Indian entrepreneurs to add 75 new unicorns this year.
Referring to the future prospects, Modi said that only half of India’s population is online, so the possibilities are immense for the future, and he appealed to startups to move towards villages.
“Whether it is mobile internet, broadband connectivity or physical connectivity, aspirations of villages are rising and rural and semi-urban areas are waiting for a new wave of expansion,” the PM said.