According to NASSCOM, the number of startups in India is increasing by 10 percent annually, which is giving the nation’s startup ecosystem an incredible boost. This urges Indian entrepreneurs to internationalise, whilst making it difficult for foreign startups to ignore India, in their quest to go global.
But, how does one set foot in a foreign market with no prior understanding? Market discovery is key, especially with the aid of partners who know the ecosystem inside-out. Swissnex in India launched the latest edition of their flagship programme, Academia Industry Training (AIT) 2022. A one-week market discovery camp for Indian and Swiss entrepreneurs, this programme helps startups explore market opportunities and challenges with sector experts and peers.
Since 2010, Swissnex in India, which is part of the Swiss Consulate General in Bengaluru, has been fostering collaborations in research and innovation. The AIT programme supports chosen Swiss and Indian early-stage startups looking to tap into the Indo-Swiss market. Since 2014, AIT has helped 74 Swiss and 74 Indian entrepreneurs succeed. Of them, 37 firms have already internationalised.
Targeting early entrepreneurs
“At the AIT 2016 camp, Swissnex helped us study the feasibility of deploying our solution in India. In 2021, we worked together for a market validation camp. And currently, we are joining hands again for a market entry, where they helped us to not only connect with the right people at the right time, but also to understand the Indian market from the context of energy and green fuel,” says Saurabh Tembhurne, CEO and Co-founder of the Swiss cleantech startup SoHHytec, and an AIT 2016 alumnus.
Over nine years, AIT has enabled early-stage entrepreneurs to learn, engage and collaborate with mentors, investors and academia. Startups at AIT gain access to top industry experts, investors, corporates, and regulators. They are supported with knowledge sessions on market and patent strategy, and up-and-coming technologies that are relevant for business; 1:1 connects with domain-specific industry mentors, companies and investors, and business culture sessions.
The expert guidance and strong mentorship has empowered AIT startups to win significant grants, both in Switzerland and India. AIT 2014 winner Dr Anuya Nisal from Serigen, has received multiple accolades like the 2020 Young Entrepreneurs Award, TiE Women Global 2021 national winner, and has commenced clinical trials in India for Serigen’s products. Manasa Gonchigar, an AIT 2019 participant, has received a grant from ICRISAT for her startup Purescan AI’s aflatoxin contaminant detector for food safety and won the Inspire 2020 award in October by the CGIAR Big Data platform with a grant of $100,000. She is also one of the finalists at 10 young winning entrepreneur teams of the agri-enterprise challenge S.O.L.V.E.D (Social Objectives-Led Volunteer Enterprise Developed).
From the 2020 cohort, Anbirban Palit from Pragmatech, is now conducting clinical trials for their cervical cancer self-check kit, Cervicheck. His startup Pragamatech, is also the winner (among other accolades) of Pfizer’s IndoVation Program’s cancer track.
Meet the 14 startups at AIT 2022
The 2022 version of AIT hosted startups from the fields of cleantech, medtech, buildtech and life sciences. The Indian startups doing a market discovery of Switzerland are:
Life and Limb is a medtech startup specialised in developing affordable, custom-built, multi fingered prosthetic hands for trans-radial amputees.
Embright Infotech, a medtech startup, deploys VR as a diagnostic/therapeutic tool for doctors to support and treat autistic patients through Auticare, an Extended Reality (XR) AI-based assistive technology.
WeRehab aims to modernise physiotherapy by building sensor-based rehab monitoring devices for portable gait analysis, providing real-time analytics to physiotherapists to remotely monitor and manage patient rehabilitation.
Novoearth, a cleantech startup, works to eliminate single-use plastic pollution, and focuses on conversion of non-recyclable plastic waste to 100% recyclable construction materials.
With the four Indian startups at AIT 2022-23, there were 10 Swiss startups who were part of the market discovery camp.
Oxara AG, a buildtech startup, aims to provide sustainable and affordable housing, by transforming excavation waste to building materials using a unique admixture technology.
Solaxer is a cleantech startup helping industries cut reliance on fossil fuels by delivering a new method of heat harvesting.
Simulatory GmbH is a medtech startup that develops smart surgical platforms that allow unlimited training for surgeons in real-life-like anatomy.
Synature is a wildlife conservation-based startup that develops real-time wildlife monitoring technologies based on AI.
Perovskia solar AG is a cleantech startup that provides customisable solar cells. The digitally printed perovskite solar cells are seamlessly integrated into any IoT device, from smart watches to smart homes.
NextImmune AG is a pharma startup working on selective immunosuppressive drugs to protect against autoimmune diseases and transplant rejection, while maintaining the innate immune response of the human body.
TOSA swisstech SA, a cleantech startup, works on sustainable composite bipolar plates for energy storage batteries and fuel cells to replace metal bipolar plates.
Nagi Bioscience SA is a biotech startup that aims to revolutionise drug/chemical screening, with the first “Organism-on-Chip” technology.
Seismohealth is a buildtech startup deploying AI to evaluate real-time structural conditions of existing buildings/bridges, through reports, alarms and customised condition metrics.
Bionomous is a life science startup that combines innovative micro-engineering design and AI, to automate the screening, sorting and dispensing of small biological entities.
AIT India camp in Delhi and Bengaluru
‘Networking, market exploration and high-end coaching made AIT 2022 a worthwhile experience. The tailored 1:1 meetups with potential customers setup by Swissnex was one of the major highlights of this camp.’ says Anand Verma, Founder of Perovskia Solar. AIT 2022 was held in Delhi and Bengaluru from November 14-18, 2022, with the Swiss camp to be held from February 13-18, 2023. If you are interested in participating in the next edition, or want to know more about Swissnex’s startup initiatives,
write to: [email protected]
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The Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI)-supported AIT, is mandated by ZHAW (Zurich University of Applied Sciences) which is the leading house for South Asia and Iran, and is executed by Venturelabs in Switzerland and by Swissnex in India in association with SIIC-Kanpur in India.