Viewpoint: Why Indian industry needs science-based social innovation and entrepreneurship
By Manoj Kumar
India is the world’s third largest start-up ecosystem. The good news is that it is not limited to large metros. About 20% of existing start-ups have been born in Tier II and III cities. Most start-up founders are technologically aware, socially conscious, and entrepreneurially confident. Even more inspiring is that they are not just about getting rich quickly. A number of start-up teams are driven by a mission to create impact in complex areas like health, agriculture, water, education, energy or even rural livelihoods. Behind this growing surge are aspiring individuals. Not surprisingly, 18 states today have start-up policies.
This is a transformation bred over the last 150 years, in which both government and private philanthropy have played critical roles. In the late nineteenth century, Jamsetji Tata defied the government of the day to conceptualize and persevere with the idea of an institute of advanced scientific education and research. This resulted in the Indian Institute of Science in 1909. He also set up the J.N. Tata Endowment to facilitate higher education of Indian students overseas. The Tata Trusts subsequently went on to establish the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (1936) and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (1945).
This foundation was built upon by successive governments, post-Independence. Higher education spread across the country, supported by philanthropy. It is this base, combined with innate Indian entrepreneurialism, that has resulted in the energy that we witness today. As India is transforming, so is Tata Trusts to support emerging national causes. Along with partners, it has begun to directly implement programmes which leave behind a lasting difference. One such cause is to support fledgling social innovator-entrepreneurs.
Photo courtesy of JanetandPhil.