Building blocks of innovation

From incubating new businesses and funding ideas, to providing mentorship and guidance, many organisations are partnering with entrepreneurs to develop and scale up innovations that can benefit consumers across the board. Patricia Mascarenhas reports.

India is urbanising rapidly. Experts suggest that within the next decade or so, close to 40 per cent of the population will live in urban areas. “With this rapid explosion the country needs to create the infrastructure that can handle it – housing, transportation, energy, water, waste management etc,” says Karthik Balakrishnan, vice president- corporate brand, Mahindra & Mahindra.

Like most developing countries around the world India too has realised the importance of building an entrepreneurial ecosystems to create jobs and wealth for its economy. Many private and public sectors along with the education system have also come together to make this possible. However, the government can only be a facilitator and aid through installing the right legal framework. “A few significant transactions have triggered a shift in mindset more accepting of entrepreneurship, however, India's ecosystem is still far from generating enough deals to sustain economic development,” says Yousef Hamidaddin, CEO, Oasis500.

Entrepreneurial ecosystems are the “engine” behind all fast-growing economies and the key for sustainable economic development and growth. “The ecosystem should enable entrepreneurship and encourage creativity, incubate viable concepts, and facilitate the success of entrepreneurial ventures to a level that affects the cultural orientation of the surrounding community,” informs Hamidaddin. In simple terms, it is a system that fosters ideas from early stages of development to successful businesses.

A perfect example of an entrepreneurial ecosystem is the Silicon Valley in the United States. All societies and markets organise, in some manner, a form of business ecosystem following their own historical, economic and political organisation. Research in societal performance shows that some ecosystems can be as much of an hindrance to the economic growth as a stimulant factor.

Therefore, in order to create an eco-system conducive to entrepreneurs in India, there is an increase in the number of platforms promoting entrepreneurs in the social space in India. “We want to trigger disruptive innovation in India. This requires a fresh injection of scientific thought and a focus on providing solutions that have the potential to change every day life,” informs Balakrishnan, whose organisation has launched an online platform 'Spark the Rise' for change-makers to connect with one another, collaborate and exchange ideas, enlist volunteers and donors, and receive grants. “We believe that 'made in India' can mean best in the world, and the Rise Prize is meant to show how world beating innovations can be built right here in India,” he adds.

Hamidaddin also agrees, “Entrepreneurship is a hot topic globally and many of the global movers and shakers are now focusing their efforts on entrepreneurship which is why developing countries like India should use these opportunities to showcase their skills.” Omraan, an initiate of Oasis500, calls for new technology ideas that aim at identifying and rewarding aspiring entrepreneurs, who are developing promising technologies.

For example, today almost 50 per cent of road accidents are in urban areas and 75 per cent are related to driver error. As the population of cars on Indian roads increases, there is a need for transformation in the way that the auto industry works.

Certainly what’s even better is that today’s entrepreneurs are not limited by their geography. Technology enables entrepreneurs in one country to connect with innovators in another. Thus platforms like these bring together some of the brightest minds around the world to work with entrepreneurs and take their innovations to the next level.

“This will help entrepreneurs in converting their urban tech ideas into reality by giving them an investment and a unique opportunity to accelerate their idea,” adds Hamidaddin. Balakrishnan agrees, “This is a great time for young entrepreneurs who want to make a dent in the universe to come out and show the world what they have to offer.”  

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