April 18, 2021

A vibrant cleantech startup environment is rooted in India

This is the second article in a series. Read the first part here.

It is easy to see what is triggering the ecosystem of India’s emerging sustainable technology start-ups with a view out the window from the Sangam Ventures office in Gurugram, just outside Delhi.

Below the company’s balcony are several floors, electrical connections over piles of rubbish, rickshaws and cow dung on a roof, dried for cooking fuel. Above all there is a haze of yellow smoke.

“What we are trying to do as a fund is defining how climate change entrepreneurs should be,” said Karthik Chandrasekhar, founder of the Association of Initial Cleantech Venture Capital Association, in an interview with his office earlier last year.

“I don’t think you can sort the sun and solve everything,” he said. “Sunlight is a big component and a valuable part of it because of the amount and price it reaches. […] But I think you need a large number of standard consumption choice changes to make all of this work. ”

The rapid growth in India’s renewable energy sector is driving the need for new technologies to modernize the country’s power sector. At the same time, there is a growing need to develop and deploy a wide range of solutions aimed at reducing pollution..

In response, the vibrant ecosystem of sustainability startups, investors and incubators is taking shape in India today.

“I think we are in the midst of a real transformation of our startup ecosystem, and this year the Cleantech startup environment is really blossoming,” said Pratap Raju, founding partner of The Climate Collective Network, a nonprofit ecosystem organization for climate entrepreneurs in South Asia.

Public concern about environmental issues has gradually increased over the past decade. It has moved these issues on the list of political priorities and raised a massive effort to diversify India’s economy from coal and other polluting technologies and practices. Raju says the corona virus infection has given a boost to India’s economy, but the desire for high quality of life continues to move India’s initial ecosystem forward.

“Contracts continue to close,” he said. “Investors recognize the presence of short-term hiccups and disruptions from COVID-19, but growth prospects remain strong.”

The network of cleantech startups in India today has only emerged in a meaningful way over the past few years. Experts say the sector has lagged behind as key stakeholders operate in the pits. Universities, incubators, investors and the public sector are not tied to how to promote innovation, find entrepreneurs and help researchers build a business. But that is changing. India’s immense pool of talent is now being tapped to tackle the country’s biggest challenges.

The need for flexible, clean power triggers the start-up process

As the share of renewable energy in India’s electricity grid continues to increase and the demand for flexible, clean energy continues to rise as smoke continues to deteriorate. This is attracting more entrepreneurs and investors to India’s cleantech sector. Raju said renewable energy projects would “change the game” for India’s power grid along with energy savings, dismissing arguments that coal and gas were needed to provide baseload power.

“The actual number of self-described Cleantech startups in India is very low,” he said. “But when you look at the portfolio of startups and incubators and accelerators, a lot of startup companies are trying to solve our energy efficiency problems. [and] Our transition to renewable energy. “

According to Raju, 20 per cent of all start-ups in incubators in India focus on certain aspects of sustainability. Today, a growing number of them focus on clean electricity.

“This is particularly driven by India’s continued success of renewable energy transformation,” he said. “This is driving the demand for new solutions to help stabilize the grid and expand renewable energy to the large number of people who do not have access to electricity in any meaningful way.”

India has seen one of the renewable fastest growth rates of all major economies. When Raju joined the renewable energy sector in 2009, the amount of solar installed on the stage in India was about 3 MW. Today, it is around 36,000 MW. Despite the recent setbacks caused by the epidemic, solar and wind levels at the Indian stage are expected to grow exponentially over the next decade.

A study Energy and Resource Company India’s target of utilizing 450 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030 has found that power system flexibility will be the biggest challenge.

Last year, the Indian government completed two constructive renewable energy tenders – one Peak energy Another The power to renew the clock – Create flexible renewable markets. The auction marks a new era in India’s energy transformation. Stopping the wind and sun on the scale is no longer enough. The rise of renewables makes utility and other energy partners grid better, more flexible and efficient.

Display presented by Sangam Ventures. Photo credit: Julia Piper

In 2020, Climate Partnership launches a joint venture with US-based startup accelerator New Energy Nexus and the International Nonprofit Regulatory Assistance Program Electronwhip. The aim is to develop new business models for India’s distribution utilities (Discom). Program applicants were asked to come up with ideas to create the country’s toughest additional revenue streams Debt applications Or help improve grid regression.

Submissions include solutions on the customer side of the meter, including roof solar, demand response and battery energy savings. Participants were encouraged to consider public-private and public-private-civil society partnerships to ensure end-use efficiency in power consumption and high renewable energy infiltration.

Winners of the first program round include Mumbai-based POWEReasy, which builds devices to monitor and manage power issues on stage, and Bhopal-based Drmz System Innovations, which offers a low-cost wireless communication module as an alternative to existing smart meters. Other participants include microgrid solutions, fast charging of the electric vehicle and creation of digital doubles of the grid for better management. Winners get help developing their business models and the opportunity to do a pilot project with an enthusiastic DISCOM.

Electronwipe facilitates congestion in India’s struggling utility sector while at the same time providing a way for entrepreneurs to engage with power companies. This kind of constructive partnership is an important part of the clean energy revolution taking place in India today, said Karthikeyan Singh, Deputy Project Director of the SED Fund and Senior Fellow of the Indian Policy Division at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Indian applications help Lynchpin and India to be a climate leader for India’s energy transformation, but they need help to move towards energy transformation,” he said. “They are under great political and economic pressure to operate with loss-making business models and there is no room for India to become the utility they need in the future.”

Mature startup ecosystem to serve the world

Over the past few years, national and state governments in India have successfully extended the power grid to rural villages. Still, there are hundreds of millions of people in India No access yet For affordable and reliable power.

At the same time, despite the brief clearing of the sky in Delhi this year amid corona virus locks, India still owns 22 of the 30 most polluted cities In this world. Meanwhile, an epidemic has occurred 400 million Indians at risk of falling deeper into poverty are intensifying their need for affordable energy.

These factors are needed not only for the need for reliable, clean electricity at the stage, but also for electric vehicles, efficient buildings and distributed energy solutions to serve remote areas.

In March, Pure Energy Investor from New Delhi cKers Finance New Energy has raised $ 5 million from Nexus to boost the growth of the newly distributed sun in India. The funds will be used to support residential and commercial solar, as well as solar water pumps, floating solar and solar-powered refrigeration, which marks another step for India’s Cleantech startup ecosystem.

This week, cKers announced that it has partnered with OTO Capital of India as the first attempt to finance the purchase of two-wheeler electric vehicles. Speaking on India’s broader cleantech ecosystem, C.Cares Director Pawan Mehra said that successful products and services generally do not come from technological advances. Instead, they are driven by finding ways to assemble existing technologies to meet specific market needs.

“This is a deployment and business model question,” he said in an interview. “This is not a technical question.”

India’s cleantech startup environment is still in its infancy. But the growing interest and investment in space not only favors the country’s own energy transformation, but also offers the potential for global impact. Communities in India share characteristics with communities across Southeast Asia and Africa, meaning that solutions developed in one market may benefit in another market.

“India has brain problems in sub-Saharan Africa and Silicon Valley,” said Shailesh Vikram Singh, an angel investor in the Noida-based Commodity Earth Network, which supports the development of early-stage climate technology startups. Interview in Delhi last year. GoMassive Launched in 2018 with the financial support of Vijay Sehgar Sharma, Founder of Paytm, a popular Indian payment platform. The system is constantly mobilizing Fairy Investors To support green energy entrepreneurs.

India has the potential to address the challenges of local pollution and climate change, while at the same time boosting economic growth, Singh said.

“If we can solve it, we will not solve it for India,” he said. “We will settle it all over the global south.”


The trip to India supported some parts of the story Exodus, Which supports various measures related to sustainability. All content is independent of the editorial, with no influence or input from benevolence. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of SED Finance or any of its subsidiaries.