Now, India needs start-up unicorns in Climate Technology Arena

As Climate Change emerges as one of the biggest challenges worldwide, it would be fitting if India’s dynamic start-up ecosystem, that has already produced several unicorns, could start focusing more of its attention on the climate technology arena. And thereby contribute to ongoing efforts in the country to attain targets pertaining to Climate Action under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 [1].

Although India has emerged as a hotbed for start-up entrepreneurship, most of our start-ups have thus far concentrated on the ed-tech, consumer tech, fintech, food tech, domains etc.

Greater entrepreneurial attention being devoted to the development of affordable, scalable, innovative climate/clean technologies suited to Indian conditions could play a significant role in countering the adverse effects of Climate Change in a nation that is soon poised to become the world’s most populous. Being locally developed with the nation’s diverse topography factored in during the development process, these technologies can be deployed quickly and prove far more cost-effective than imported variants that may need substantial tweaking before those could be used in India. 

One of the biggest beneficiaries of more start-ups emerging in the Indian climate tech domain – with some of these going on to become unicorns in the future – could be the agricultural sector on which most citizens depend on for their livelihoods. Also, the emergence of home-grown climate/clean technology start-ups in larger numbers could reduce India’s dependence on the developed world for advanced climate technologies, and, in the process, further the agenda of self-reliance that the country is now committed to.

Incidentally, being provided access to climate technologies was one of the major points made by developing countries at the last global Climate Conference (COP26) held at Glasgow in November 2021. At this meeting, Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Bhupender Yadav had highlighted that developed countries should provide financial and technological support to developing nations to ensure climate justice [2].

The advent of multiple domestic start-ups in the climate/clean technology arena could also be a big help in the country’s efforts to achieve targets set under the Sustainable Development Goal 7 of providing citizens access to affordable and clean energy. Moreover, the presence of such enterprises could aid in the fight against air pollution that has become a huge environmental and health hazard in India. These businesses could come up with offerings that could make ‘Clean Air for All’ a reality for India’s over 1.4 billion citizens and, in the process, improve their quality of life.

Additionally, having several start-ups in the climate technology space could have positive ramifications for the increasing number of people joining India’s workforce every year. These companies could create more newer and better-quality jobs for those seeking employment besides creating opportunities for job mobility for those already employed.

From a business perspective, promising start-ups that focus on the climate/clean tech arena stand to make a lot of money, and, also, find it much easier to raise funds from sundry investors given the heightened worldwide focus now on environmental, social and governance (ESG) norms [3]. In October 2021, Blackrock CEO Larry Fink had, at a business summit, forecast that the next 1,000 unicorns would be involved with climate technologies [4].

Considering how climate/clean tech start-ups can shape a new India, authorities at both the federal and state levels may think of providing additional incentives to such enterprises. Proactively facilitating linkages between these enterprises with government-run or funded scientific research institutions and universities could also be looked at. Such measures could assist climate/clean tech start-ups to scale up quickly and be able to come up with innovative offerings that could meet both regional and national needs on the Climate-related adaptation and mitigation fronts.

The Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) [5], and the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) under the Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India [6], for example, could provide improvised mentorship support to start-ups in the climate/clean technology space.



About the Author

Sumali Moitra is a current affairs commentator. Twitter: @sumalimoitra

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