India's deep tech start-ups need higher seed and early-stage funding to grow faster as only 11 per cent of technology-related funds reach this status quo currently, said Debjani Ghosh, president of National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) on Friday.
Deep tech or deep technology start-ups are enterprises that work in the area of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, quantum, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), drones and augmented reality (AR).
Speaking at a workshop on 'Start-ups and Entrepreneurship: Vision India@2047', organised by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) under the Ministry of Commerce, Ghosh pointed out that of the total of 25,000-plus tech start-ups in the country, only 3,000 are related to deep tech that accounts for only 12 per cent.
India has some excellent deep tech start-ups working across the entire range of emerging technologies, but only 11 per cent of total technology-related funding is going to deep tech, she said.
Countries like China and the United States are prioritising their funds to the deep tech start-up ecosystem because this sector is driving innovation for their country, according to her.
The deep tech start-up ecosystem is not equal to the tech start-up ecosystem, Ghosh stressed, pointing out that their life cycles are different.
Investors and regulators should understand that deep tech start-ups take longer to get to the product market space because it has to spend time on research and innovation.
She suggested the creation of a 'start-up service' along the lines of mandatory military service in countries like Singapore.
"Can we say in the third or fourth year of engineering (course), you (students) have to go and work one year in a tech start-up? This would help tech start-ups access the best talent and compete for it with big companies," the tech industry veteran said.
"Talent pool is there but the problem is access to the talent," Ghosh pointed out.
"We have to move towards risk-based regulation," she said, adding that patents and talent are absolutely critical for the deep tech start-up sector.
There are only around 485 "truly inventive" deep tech start-ups in India, she said, and suggested growing this number ambitiously to 10,000 by the end of this decade.