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5 incubators and accelerators you should know if you’re an Indian IoT startup

Tarush Bhalla & Rashmi Chandra
posted on 19th February 2016
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There has been a lot of buzz around the Internet of Things (IoT) since 2012. According to CB Insights, the funding for IoT startups, globally, has more than doubled over five years, from $768 million in 2010 to over $1.9 billion in 2014, with yearly deals soaring from 91 in 2010 to 221 in 2014.

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As of November 2015, 141 deals were already signed globally with as much as $1.4 billion in investments, with more deals to be signed in December.

CB Insights also says the most well-funded company was View, which manufactures Internet-connected smart windows. It raised $150 million in Series G in Q3 2015, while Proteus Digital Health followed up with $52 million in a second Series G round in 2014. Proteus is known to make ingestible sensors that measure psychological responses.

India, too, is not far behind in the IoT game. The government aims to make the space a $15 billion industry by 2020, with as much as Rs 7,060 crore earmarked in the 2014 Budget for Smart Cities.

However, with the surge of IoT startups in the country, here are a few incubators and accelerators you should know about:

Autonebula

Claiming to be the first incubator-accelerator that focusses on Connected Transport, its aim is to create a dialogue across the public and private sectors, promoting sustainable modes of transport, infrastructure, and traffic management.

Recently, they held their annual event The Ignition Labs 1.0 contest, which aims to incubate startups related to IoT projects around Connected Cars, Vehicle Management, Traffic Management, Vehicle Logistics, Telemetry, Navigation, Infotainment, and Data Analytics.

Read more: Ignition Lab 1.0

GSF Global Accelerator

In early 2015, GSF launched an accelerator and an early stage fund to invest in IoT and cloud startups in collaboration with Cisco Investments. They held a 16-week programme while providing five startups $45,000 in funding at an 8-9 per cent equity. The 16-week-long programme aimed to support startups in key areas such as product development (MVP), go-to-market strategy, global expansion, PR & marketing, and fund-raising.

GSF also runs an early-stage fund called GSF SuperAngels, which is backed by 20 digital founders and early-stage investors in India.

Read more about the new batch of their m-accelerator  here.

HyperCat

This December, this exclusive incubator was launched to handhold IoT startups in Hyderabad’s Hi-Tech City. The incubator has the backing of 700 businesses, globally, and houses 40 startups. It has been launched by FlexEye, a British software company.

The incubator will help Indian startups gain access to skills, technology, and funding opportunities to accelerate the development of valuable IoT and Smart Cities services.

HyperCat incubator
The HyperCat incubation space [Image Credit: ww.startupsuccessstories.com/]

Qualcomm®’s QDIC

The Qualcomm® Design in India Challenge (QDIC), in association with NASSCOM, through this competition aims to discover startups in product design, development, and manufacturing in the domains of hardware and Internet of Things (IoT) for healthcare, education, banking, automotive as well as Smart Cities sectors. (Disclaimer: Qualcomm Ventures is an investor in YourStory)

In the first round of selection, 10 companies are shortlisted and given $10,000, as well as incubation and access to Qualcomm®’s innovation labs. In the final round of the challenge, the top three startups get a total prize money of $100,000.

Read more here. Companies can still apply for the challenge here.

Ashoka -ISB –Microsoft Ventures (AIM) Incubator

The big B-schools are also in the game of acceleration to get a piece of the startup pie. This time it is the Indian School of Business and Ashoka University in association with Microsoft Ventures. The investment pool is said to be as high as Rs 1 crore to be put into startups with a focus on Smart Cities. Further, an investment of Rs 7-10 lakh will be put in each venture selected, while looking at 8-10 teams.

Microsoft Ventures will provide software and technology support for the programme.

Last November, the government said that it had plans to launch five IoT startup incubation centres as a part of the Digital India and Startup India campaign. They have already launched a centre of excellence (CoE) for IoT in Bengaluru incubating companies and innovative applications associated with Smart Cities, smart healthcare, smart manufacturing, and agriculture. The incubator is a joint venture by NASSCOM, DeiTy and Education and Research Network (ERNET), working in a public-private partnership.

However, there are other corporate investment arms of companies like Target, Microsoft, Dell and IBM that incubate and accelerate early stage IoT startups, which leverage their technologies (like working on Microsoft devices or on IBM Blumix) or help the conglomerates’ existing functioning through their solutions.

We are sure that there might be some other incubators and accelerators for IoT. We would love to hear from you on newer avenues of mentorship for IoT startups in India.

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