As the world’s third-largest startup hub, India is driving a global intelligent tech renaissance. The country has more than 49,000 startups, 1,500 investors, and 250 incubators, as well as 26 unicorns, according to Inc42’s report “The State Of Indian Startup Ecosystem 2018.” Most importantly, India’s startups have discovered a massive opportunity for building global businesses that drive innovation and social progress: emerging and intelligent technologies.
In prior years, the collaboration between startups and corporations has unearthed a new generation of business models that cleverly apply mobile technology, cloud computing, social networks, and analytics to enhance operations, accelerate growth, and open new markets.
The latest crop of startups is focused on the intelligent enterprise, bringing together machine and human intelligence across all business functions to predict market changes and increase competitiveness. Consciously or unconsciously, many players take a page from the playbook of the Renaissance, an era marked by some of the greatest innovations of all times. The artist Leonardo da Vinci, for example, worked across numerous fields, combining different skill sets, arts, and sciences for his timeless art and inventions.
Today’s greatest innovations happen at the intersection of industries. In fact, the interplay of industries and technologies has become the cradle of today’s modern-day renaissance. The next generation of intelligent technologies is further blurring the lines between traditional industries. A car company not only provides personal transportation, it also provides entertainment. Automotive companies compete with new types of transportation services. Social media companies morph into media companies. Equipped with cloud computing capabilities, database players are no longer selling only databases.
The Renaissance thinkers of today are companies who go beyond corporate and industry boundaries and infuse technology innovation into business models. In India, Bloomberg reported a surge of innovative startups in the insurance, education, logistics, and lodging industries with a principal focus on local issues.
Startups and large corporations are looking at the innovation capacity of intelligent technologies, with a focus on machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and blockchain.
One of the fastest growing tech segments and opportunities for Indian startups to enter the global stage is AI. In India, 58% of companies are using AI at scale, beyond pilot and test projects, to innovate and ultimately grow their business operations. According to a study by Accenture, AI could add US$957 billion to the Indian economy or increase the country’s income by 15% in 2035. AI has outgrown its experimental stage for enterprise applications and consumer-facing applications. The use of AI-powered chatbots for online shopping is just one of many examples of how technology, often envisioned by startups, is transforming businesses.
Data from YS Research shows that funding for AI-based startups skyrocketed to $294 million (with 23 deals) in 2018. India is still a smaller AI startup hub compared to China and the United States, but the growth potential is humongous, considering the breadth of AI applications across industries and geographies, from health to retail, and the access to home-grown talent.
For decades, large corporations have spearheaded the rise of India as a tech hub. The next decade will be characterized by a strong collaboration of startups and corporations to fuel India’s rise as a global innovation hub. Startups are the heart of today’s global intelligent tech renaissance. A strong ecosystem consisting of investors, corporations, government, and academic partners will give India’s tech startups the power to create global impact.