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The Progressive Transformation of the Deep Tech Startup Ecosystem in India: Insights from Serigen Mediproducts

Deep science startups are characterized by technologies that feature significant scientific or applied engineering advancements. Key domains within the deep tech landscape encompass biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, intelligent mobility, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, robotics, aerospace, space technology, fusion power, quantum computing, etc. The growth trajectory of these startups is marked by prolonged development cycles and heightened initial capital requirements, infusion of patient capital, robust intellectual property strategies, the creation of novel markets, and the cultivation of interdisciplinary, committed, and visionary teams. These enterprises are dedicated to addressing tangible real-world challenges by leveraging on the core science and technology.

Nasscom’s report highlights the maturation of the Indian deep tech startup ecosystem, boasting over 3,000 companies that have achieved a remarkable 53 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) over the past decade1. A Forbes article attributes this surge to highly motivated and passionate founders, focused Venture Capital (VC) firms, and forward-thinking corporates, who are partnering with these startups2. In addition, government initiatives, such as the national deep tech startup policy, sector specific policy interventions (such as National Medical device policy, India Space policy), creation of deep technology and science incubators/accelerators, and access to early stage funding / grants, have played a pivotal role in promoting and nurturing these deep science innovations.

Serigen, a spin-off of CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (CSIR-NCL), is an early beneficiary of this burgeoning ecosystem. The culture at CSIR-NCL that emphasized intellectual property, technology transfer, and close collaboration with industry was imperative to view research commercialization as an opportunity. Policy interventions facilitating participation of innovators/scientists in spin-off companies has been another important driver for spin-off companies. Ventures like Serigen, incubated at on-campus technology hubs such as Venture Center, also benefited immensely from laboratory infrastructure, state-of-the-art equipment, workshops, and training sessions at the incubator. These platforms equip startups with insights into financial, legal and regulatory frameworks and facilitate introductions and collaborations with key stakeholders in the ecosystem. Serigen’s journey is a testament to the significance of early-stage grant funding (DBT-BIRAC BIG, SBIRI, and BIPP) and patient capital infusion from angel investors.

Thus, fostering and nurturing various stakeholders in this innovation ecosystem will play a key role for the success of deep science startups!