In a novel initiative by the Petroleum Ministry, 10 oil and gas companies under it on Wednesday launched a startup programme for entrepreneurs with a fund corpus of Rs 320 crore to be disbursed over a three-year period to support innovations in the energy sector.
The scheme was launched here with memoranda of understanding (MoU) being signed by 36 startups for partnering with various state-run firms like Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and GAIL India, which is India's largest gas transmission utility.
"The people we are partnering today will establish new benchmarks for India. We have to go for out of the box thinking and disruptive frameworks," Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said at the launch event.
Pradhan, who has recently been elevated to cabinet rank and given additional charge of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, said India could not afford to miss out on the ongoing Industrial Revolution 4.0 that signifies the changes being wrought by information technology.
He pointed out that being the third largest energy consumer in the world with an annual oil import bill of Rs 7 lakh crore, India urgently needed to act on import substitution.
"Oil import substitution can best come through alternate fuels, which can only be developed through innovation and new business models," the minister said.
This programme is based on the premise that "oil and gas companies have the required technical acumen and financial strength to act as venture capitalists to talented entrepreneurs who wish to build businesses," he added.
Some of the innovative projects that signed the partnership with the ministry include for developing multiuse fuel from agri-waste, remotely operated vehicles for underwater inspections, converting waste plastic to high value fuels, electronic leak detector for LPG and solar cookers.
Speaking on the occasion, Amitabh Kant, CEO Niti Aayog, said that Indian start-ups were earlier migrating abroad but, after the launch of the Start-up India scheme, most of them are relocating to India. “I am delighted that the Petroleum Ministry has taken up this initiative as innovation & technology can create major breakthroughs in the technology and capital-intensive petroleum industry. The oil & gas industry is one of the major contributors to the Indian economy and, therefore, start-ups can play a big role in boosting the same,” he added.