Startup Street: India Hands A Boost To Students And Faculty Looking To Start-Up
Trainees are silhouetted during their lunch break in a food court. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Startup Street: India Hands A Boost To Students And Faculty Looking To Start-Up

This week on Startup Street, the Indian government unveils its first set of guidelines on how higher education institutes can spur startups and innovation. Fast-food chain McDonald’s Corp. goes shopping to leverage more technology in business. And a new three-way partnership to help startups grow. Here’s what went on:

Can Higher Education Institutes Boost Startup Ecosystem?

The Indian government has asked higher education institutes to set aside at least 1 percent of their total annual budget to fund and support startup ideas originating on campus.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development has issued the National Students and Faculty Startup Policy 2019—a set of guidelines that are aimed to spur innovation at universities and supporting startups that emerge from them.

The innovation fund can also raise money through state governments and other ministries. It can also approach India Inc. for funds under their Corporate Social Responsibility budget.

Apart from the 1 percent innovation fund, the government wants all higher institutes to create pre-incubation and incubation facilities that would be made available round the clock for students. They may also offer mentoring and other relevant services in exchange for a nominal fee or equity. The HRD ministry also wants institutes to have their own internal policy and action plan over startups.

Students attend a lecture in the Seminar Hall at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in Mumbai (Photographer: Santosh Verma/ Bloomberg News)  
Students attend a lecture in the Seminar Hall at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in Mumbai (Photographer: Santosh Verma/ Bloomberg News)  

This is the first time India has issued a comprehensive set of formal guidelines for students and faculty that want to pursue entrepreneurial activities. The guidelines are also aimed at improving innovation in India. The country is ranked at 52 in the Global Innovation Index. It aspires to crack the top 25 in the next five years. Encouraging educations institutes to support startups will be a step in that direction.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship need to emerge as one of the focal points of our education system and Minsitry of Human Resource Development is making every possible effort to achieve this goal,” R Subrahmanyam, secretary of higher education, said in the guidelines. “We’re aggressively promoting initiatives like hackathons, tech-gests, idea competition, startup bootcamps etc. to foster the culter of innovation in our education institutions.”

We want large number of students and faculty to work on new ideas and convert them into successful enterprises.
R Subrahmanyam, Secretary of Higher Education, HRD Ministry
The Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur is one of the top technical institutes in the country. (Photographer: Sumit Dayal/Bloomberg)
The Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur is one of the top technical institutes in the country. (Photographer: Sumit Dayal/Bloomberg)

Key highlights of the guidelines:

  • Students and faculty will be allowed licensing of Intellectual Property Rights from the institute.
  • Students will be allowed to work part-time for the startups during their study.
  • Institutes can take up to 9.5 percent equity stake in the startup based on the support provided.
  • Students and faculty will be allowed to use the institute’s postal address to register their startups.
  • Student entrepreneurs will be allowed to sit for exams even if their attendance is less than the minimum required percentage.
  • However, all this will be with due permission from the institute.
  • Students and faculty will also be allowed to take a year’s break to work on their startups and then resume academics.

The full guidelines can be accessed here:

National Innovation and Startup Policy 2019 for Students and Faculty.pdf

McDonald’s Goes Startup Shopping

A digital menu board is displayed in the drive-thru of a McDonald’s (Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)  
A digital menu board is displayed in the drive-thru of a McDonald’s (Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)  

McDonald’s Corp. has bought yet another startup—it’s third this year—as it looks to lean heavily on machines and artificial intelligence to boost sales.

The world’s biggest restaurant company is buying startup Apprente for an undisclosed sum of money. The startup develops voice-recognition technology for the restaurant industry. McDonald’s wants the startup’s technology to automate the task of taking drive-through orders.

McDonald’s also plans to use Aprrente’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, to start a technology lab and add more employees there. The time is right for McDonald’s to build “a greater presence in the Silicon Valley”, said its Chief Executive Officer Steve Easterbrook.

The fast-food chain’s tech transformation started earlier this year when it bought Dynamic Yield for $300 million. McDonald’s used the startup’s tool to suggest food and drinks to customers based on factors like weather or time of the day. In April, it bought a minor stake in mobile application developer Plexure Group Ltd.

New Partnership To Assist Startups

Co-working space provider Workafella said on Wednesday it has collaborated with TiE Chennai and The Chennai Angels to assist over 500 startups across the country.

TiE Chennai will educate and mentor partners, entrepreneurs at Workafella, guiding them with various organisational techniques, according to a joint statement. The Chennai Angels will provide capital and facilitate networking.

Commenting on the partnerships, Gurbinder Rattha, founder-managing director of Workafella, said: “Under these partnerships with both TiE Chennai and The Chennai Angels, we aim to guide entrepreneurs at Workafella in shaping their organisations by training them with required management skill sets.”

“TiE Chennai has plans to organise a few of our monthly events at Workafella, that offers top of the line infrastructure support,” Akhila Rajeshwar, executive director of TiE Chennai, said.

(With PTI Inputs)

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