Kishore Babu, deputy director general (SRI), Department of Telecommunications (DoT)

India is witnessing a phenomenal rise in the number of promising, innovation-based digital start-ups. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade has recognised as many as 63,900 start-ups till date and the technology start-up base is growing steadily, with over 2,250 start-ups added in 2021. The evolving spirit of entrepreneurship in India, access to funding and technological growth have enabled the start-up ecosystem to develop significantly in the past few years. Propelling this remarkable growth is the flagship Start-up India initiative of the government. At the digital dialogue on “Digital Communications Start-ups’ Success Stories” organised by the Broadband India Forum (BIF), Kishore Babu, deputy director general (SRI), Department of Telecommunications (DoT), shared his views on the benefits of the Start-up India initiative and how DoT and other stakeholders are playing a vital role in promoting the growth of start-ups. Edited excerpts…

We have five to six companies that have made extraordinary progress, but I can say that this is only the tip of the iceberg and a lot more success stories are happening right now, with our direct or indirect co­ntribution. I wo­uld like to thank all those who are contri­bu­ting to this journey of the evolving start-up ecosystem.

Today, there is an enormous attitude change in the outlook of facilitating agen­ci­es, be it the government, public sector un­­its or other agencies that are a part of this journey, thanks to the top leadership as well as the single-line focus on taking India to the next era.

There is an enormous push as well as encouragement to bring in the much-re­quired attitude change. The ease of doing business enables this. Some media reports state that there is already some discussion with regard to drafting a 2047 vision for In­dia. This will be a long-term plan and re­volve around what Indian policymakers as well as industry stakeholders are working towards, for creating a long-term vision.

The efforts of the numerous start-ups that are contributing to the development can ch­ange the entire thought process and he­lp in overcoming certain barriers. While efforts have been made to create and facilitate this journey, there are certain chall­enges that all of us are working together to overcome, with respect to building collaboration as well as removing barriers and limitations as part of this evolution journey.

For the past three years, DoT has been ma­p­ping technologies, technology companies as well as competencies of different industry me­m­bers. I must have spoken to at least 100 companies on how we, at DoT, can fa­cilitate their growth. I am sure this kind of effort is be­ing continuously un­der­taken by other minis­tri­es and agencies as well. The source of inspiration for all of us is the budding start-up ecosystem. Industry, industry agencies, think tanks such as BIF and start-ups with all their members and success stories are an inspiration for us.

We have seen over a period of time that, apart from global opportunities, th­ere are tremendous opportunities for coll­a­boration among Indian companies themselves. In technology innovation, and science and technology-based development as well as intellectual property creation, co­mpanies no younger than five or six years old are taking initiatives. However, along with them stand a lot of members bringing decades of experience from centres of excellence of entities created from glo­bal companies. In fact, a lot of global experience is going into making this collaboration journey possible.

DoT, in particular, has made anno­un­ce­ments such as considering a 5 per cent Universal Servi­ce Obligation Fund levy for research and develop­me­nt (R&D) funding, especially for the creation of innovative new technologies, making techno­logi­es and services affordable and the proliferation of such services in the rural sector.

One of the members also mentioned how spectrum as a resource is being made available by DoT on very easy terms. This may be one of the lowest priced and easiest ways in which spectrum is made available in the world. For instance, through self-declarations, you can get spectrum in India for all your R&D purposes with a mere $70 annual fee. Any other spectrum band for indoor testing, indoor demonstration or indoor R&D including manufacturing, can be availed of at the click of a mouse. Compa­ni­es then just need to print the document and start their journey.

Net, net, the ob­jective is to remove unnecessary barriers and make start-up operations simpler. Further, we want to enable them to focus on activities that help them in pursuing their objectives and dreams in making a better and greater India.