Governments have to put their best feet forward to attract startups into their region and this was visible from the policies of Rajasthan and Sweden.
As the second day of TechSparks 2018 drew to a close on Saturday, the energy level and participation from the audience still remained high with the platform set for ambitious startups who were looking to scale not just in India but across the globe with policy makers and enablers welcoming them with open arms.
At the panel discussion on the topic “How policy can propel global growth for startups?”, Manu Shukla, project officer, Department of Information Technology and Communication, Government of Rajasthan, described the current period as the golden age for startups.
The panellists were not just from Rajasthan but came all the way from Sweden. They were keen to strengthen the partnerships between the two countries and leverage the technology strength of India.
Talking about the business environment in Sweden which encourages creation of new business, Anna Kinberg Batra, former member of Parliament, Moderate Party Sweden and Swede-India Business Council, said, “It is about creating an environment where startups can thrive. It is not a question of regulating them but enabling them to grow and reach out to world.” Incidentally, Anna had written a book talking about the potential of India 13 years ago.
There were offers on stage to aspiring entrepreneurs with Manu stating that in Rajasthan it is a completely paperless system where the startup does not have to interact with the government system.
Ariana Pousette, Project Director – Startups, Invest Stockholm said, “We are interested in startups that are focused on clean tech, AI, AR & VR. Please come to Stockholm.” Sweden has already set a target of being free from fossil fuel by 2025.
Arianna explained how the groundwork for entrepreneurship was fuelled in Sweden more than 30 years ago when the government created the largest open fibre network and provided computers to all employees – from the cleaning lady all the way up to the CEO.
The representatives from Sweden emphasised that their country was very welcoming to both – startups and technology professionals while adding that there was also a high quality standard of living.
Even as these country representatives were making the right pitches, Bosch, the global automotive and industrial MNC talked about how it engages with startups. Aravind Raman, Country Head for Strategy & Business Development, Bosch said, “Under our discover, nurture and align (DNA) startup programme, we give our business technology challenges to startups and both are learning from each other.”
Bosch is focused on startups from the segments of AI, blockchain, clean tech, energy analytics among others. Aravind said, “We constantly look at startups with a strong USP rather than someone with a “me-too” concept.”
Manu explained the various benefits awaiting startups willing to set up shop in Rajasthan. These include a incubation centre, which can house 700 entrepreneurs with hardware provided free of cost; startups can get government work without going through a tender route, a separate venture fund for social, women and green startups, etc. This was also applauded by the packed audience. One entrepreneur remarked that the fastest response from any government in India came from Rajasthan.
Anna was very clear that entrepreneurship can flourish with the right culture. “Subsidies and government programmes are one thing but what matters is the culture. In Sweden, we provide the tax breaks and the support system is there,” said.
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