India Ranks 3rd in Start-Up Ecosystem and Unicorns: Dr Jitendra Singh

There are currently 105 unicorns, out of which 44 were born in 2021 and 19 in 2022.

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India ranks globally 3rd in the startup ecosystem and also in terms of the number of unicorns. As per the latest data, there are currently 105 unicorns, out of which 44 were born in 2021 and 19 in 2022.

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr. Jitendra Singh disclosed this while delivering the keynote address at “DST StartUpUtsav” at Dr. Ambedkar International Centre here.

The Minister said the current decade, 2021-30, is expected to bring transformational changes to Indian science, technology, and innovation (STI). Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has increased the gross expenditure on R&D (GERD) more than three times in the last few years. As per the latest data, India has over 5 lakh R&D personnel, showing a 40-50% increase over the previous eight years.

In the last eight years, Dr. Singh said, women’s participation in extramural R&D has also doubled, and now India occupies 3rd rank in terms of the number of PhDs awarded in science and engineering (S&E) after the USA and China. With the shifting global powers and technology becoming the epicentre of international engagements and rulemaking, India under Modi is living up to global benchmarks.

Recalling Prime Minister Modi’s launch of Startup India from the ramparts of Red Fort in 2015, Dr. Jitendra Singh said India, in its 75th year of Independence, is now home to as many as 75,000 startups. His special focus on science, technology, and innovation has fired the imagination of the youth in the country to innovate and solve problems with new ideas.

He also pointed out that India’s startups today are not limited to only metros or big cities and said that 49 per cent of the startups are from tier-2 and tier-3 cities. The country has emerging startups in the IT, agriculture, aviation, education, energy, health, and space sectors.

Dr Jitendra Singh released four publications featuring promising startups under various components of the Department of Science and Technology’s NIDHI programme, including the flagship Technology Business Incubator (TBI) scheme and a coffee table book of 51 CAWACH-funded startups.

Further, the Minister noted that India ranks third among the most attractive investment destinations for technology transactions worldwide as it has a strong focus on science and technology. India is among the top countries in the world in scientific research, positioned as one of the top five nations in space exploration, and actively engaged in emerging technologies such as quantum technologies and artificial intelligence.

The Centre for Augmenting WAR with COVID-19 Health Crisis (CAWACH) program carved out in a record time by DST just when Covid hit was the first program by any department of the Government of India to support startups working on Covid products and solutions. The impact and outcome of DST’s program on innovation and entrepreneurship have been significant: promoting 160 incubators, nurturing 12,000 startups, including 1627 women-led startups, and generating 1,31 648 jobs.

Besides, he informed that India had made a massive jump in its global ranking in the Global Innovation Index (GII) from 81st in 2015 to 46th in 2021 among 130 economies. India ranks 2nd among 34 lower and middle-income economies and 1st among 10 Central and Southern Asian economies in terms of GII. The Minister added that the consistent improvement in the GII ranking is owing to the immense knowledge capital, the vibrant startup ecosystem, and some outstanding work done by the public and private research organisations.

Secretary, DST, Dr. S. Chandrasekhar, said India, in recent 7-8 years, made unprecedented progress in STI areas. There has been a significant rise in the country’s overall performance in terms of the number of publications (globally ranked 3rd now from 6th in 2013 based on the National Science Foundation database), patents (globally ranked 9th in terms of resident patent filing) and quality of research publications (globally ranked 9th now from 13th in 2013). He pointed out that the NIDHI program of DST has swiftly processed the much-needed support to startups, catalysing the active support of business incubators and other business support providers.

Seventy-five impactful incubated startups supported under NIDHI from across the country from various sectors were showcased in 50 physical and 25 digital modes at the DST Startup Expo. Five startups from NM-ICPS Technology Innovation Hubs were also part of the 50 stalls of Startups.