As per NASSCOM, Indian tech startup ecosystem report 2019, 18% of all startups in India are into deep tech such as AI, ML, AR/VR, Blockchain, IoT and so on. Around 1600 deep tech startups came up just between 2014-2019 and are growing at a CAGR of 40%.
These are spread across industries such as fintech, health tech, lifestyle, aggrotech, and more. India has managed to establish itself as the global powerhouse in the IT services sector but there is still a lot more to achieve in the field of product innovation in deep technology.
Deep technologies find applications in a vast range of areas including fintech, ed-tech, mobility, user behaviour analysis in retail and is crucial for social development and data security.
The availability of large volumes of data in the past few years and improvement in computing power of devices are responsible for growth of deep tech startups in India. It is the right time to create, innovate, and leverage these technologies for unprecedented customer experience and business growth.
Millions of data points are generated daily which could be used to create diverse specialised applications to manage and utilize complex data. For example, we can use deep technology to collect environmental data from a host of sensors present across the globe. Insurance industry is always looking for end-to-end analysis of the public health to enhance their business decisions.
Change in the ecosystem startup
There is a big shift in the startup space as they are focusing on business to business model. Following are the key reasons why India desperately needs these deep tech startups to grow, not only in numbers but also in terms of size and valuation.
- Solutions based on deep tech solve real-life problems and challenges when it comes to food, energy, water, and national security.
- Deep tech companies can offer exciting job opportunities to engineers and help in keeping the talent within our shores.
Indian deep tech companies will help secure the country's data sovereignty. Giant global companies such as Facebook and WhatsApp have also faced challenges such as data breach and online attacks.
From the massive data breach at Facebook to the online attack using spyware Pegasus that allowed hackers to get access to communication on WhatsApp, there are many examples of how data can be misused.
Countries around the world are finding ways to secure citizens against such data theft. Indian authorities are also trying to address this concern by bringing in data localisation laws that force multinational financial companies to keep data related to Indian users within the country.
While the efficacy of such laws is yet to be proven, creating an environment that enables Indian deep tech companies to flourish can help in addressing this concern.
The challenge of scale
Policymakers and investors mostly focus on bringing more people to become entrepreneurs, but there is not much support for scaling their businesses. Start-ups require a lot of time to reach market-ready maturity and a significant amount of capital to develop and scale.
It is crucial for large corporates and established entrepreneurs should step in to provide capital, mentorship, and guidance to promising start-ups. It is no longer enough to be front-runner in just the IT sector, we must find its place in the global race to achieve tech leadership.
Capital was scarce in the past but now entrepreneurs have access to it as well. Internet which was supposed to be without boundaries is slowly moving towards becoming pockets of sovereign cyberspace. Data is being traded and used to compete against each other like other commodities in the past.
The world is becoming a lot more open stack and we can expect more opportunities even as more competition shows up. Indian start-ups have an opportunity in the form of developing trust with consumers and clients amid the growing data nationalism.
The author is founder and CEO, Embee Software. Views are personal.