Technology has changed the way that businesses behave today. The Indian economy is home to over 56,000 startups with about 450 plus in the agri-tech space alone. There are government regulations and incentives to help these startups grow and sustain, but the dynamics are skewed towards the incubators and accelerators who drive exponential growth.
The Agri-tech segment is growing at a phenomenal rate of 25% year-on-year. The fund inflow has been over $250 million in 2019 alone. The future is bright, and experts view the agri-tech innovation industry as the primary driver of agricultural economics by 2020. The multi-billion sector has a massive scope to change the face of the Indian economy. Incubators are not only funding, but also mentoring, and guiding the very fragmented businesses leading towards a cohesive structure.
The agriculture industry is fragmented and unorganized in India. There is a need to harness the potential that the sector offers to harness the growth and make it sustainable. The need for technological innovation to find solutions to everyday problems is the need of the hour. Frugal innovations in the agri sector will help the economy grow in the long run.
The pressure points plaguing the agriculture industry is the dearth of market linkages, services, and networks that can be tapped as a cohesive whole. The experience of incubators have helped agri-tech startups to channel funds, groom entrepreneurs, provide on-ground pilot testing facility, and maximize business opportunities. The boot camp activities of the incubators facilitate the back-links to market, help in driving networks to reduce wastage, create sustainable logistics systems to promote marketing initiatives, and help agri-tech startups scale up.
The formal incubator-accelerator organizations have disrupted the Indian agricultural startup scenario over the past a few years. Incubators seed the potentially disruptive ideas of the agri-preneur intending to create a viable business model. The startups gain co-working space, structured funding, mentorship in the technology and financial domains as well as in-depth knowledge of the industry itself. Incubators also help to mitigate the challenges and risks in the delicate scale-up process.
Incubation is the bedrock of innovative disruption. The idea is to foster growth and ultimately commercialization of the innovation. The incubators have stepped into the gap between a good idea to a viable business. They provide necessary infrastructure, feedback, and correction advice to firm up the innovation. The hand-holding process includes mentorship, identification, and firming up of collaborations for the agri-preneur. Intellectual resources and advice can make or break the pattern of growth and scalability.
The role of incubators is crucial in the wider business ecosystem in India. They are integral to the shaping up process of the Indian startup network. The role of the incubator is well beyond the corporate startup office. They add value to the entire business-scape of the start-up community. The exponential growth of India as a start-up hub has opened up the potential of incubators to nurture creativity and disrupt the way traditional business works. The mentoring of the start-up will help agri-ventures transform and catapult itself to the next level.
Agri-tech startups have a vast scope to enhance livelihood opportunities in rural India. Intervention in sustainable agricultural processes, livestock management, skill development, market linkages, effective network of logistics infrastructure, sustainable pricing conventions, and robust market linkages will contribute tremendously to rural economic development and food security goals in the country. Incubators are set to disrupt the Indian startup landscape in a big way.
The writer is, CEO, Indigram Labs.)