From a chatbot for IRCTC to pesticide-spraying drones: startups prove able partners for governments
YourStory lists startups that are collaborating with the State and Central governments to solve the public sector's challenges.Debolina Biswas
A decade ago, for a startup to get a government contract, or partner with a state agency was unimaginable. As entrepreneurs are solving real-life problems using a variety of technologies, governments are also sitting up and taking notice.
Now, there are government-startup partnerships being forged for problem solving - to give the public the best with the help of technology and with the backing of the state.
YourStory lists startups collaborating with State and Central governments to solve problems that were traditionally considered challenges of the public sector.
Bengaluru-based farm-management and agritech startup CropIn Technologies provides Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions to agribusinesses. Founded by Krishna Kumar, Kunal Prasad and Chittaranjan Jena in 2010, CropIn Technologies enables agri-ecosystem stakeholders to adopt and drive digital strategy across operations.
CropIn's Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)-powered digital platform SmartRisk uses ground-level data and satellite imagery to identify plots suitable for Crop Cutting Experiments (CCE).
The Central government recently partnered with CropIn to make CCE more accurate, swift, and scalable.
The startup has been conducting CCE through remote sensing in Koppal and Bellary districts of Karnataka.
CropIn's digital farm management solution SmartFarm captures the precise location and size of a farm,along with details provided by the farmer at the time of conducting the CCE. This ensures the field data is accurate, enabling complete visibility and transparency.
So far, CropIn has digitised over five million acres of farmland, gathering data on 265 crops.
Aarav Unmanned Systems
Founded in 2013, Aarav Unmanned Systems is a drone tech startup by Nikhil Upadhye, Suhas Banshiwala, and Vipul Singh. The use-cases for the company’s commercial-grade drones include mapping of mines, forest cover, search and rescue operations,damage assessment after disaster relief, and property mapping for taxation. Aarav Unmanned Systems provides solutions across infrastructure design and development, urban and rural planning and surface transport and agriculture and irrigation.
Its autonomous drones have a radio range of up to 5 km, and can capture 3D models of the areas it scans.
The company recently worked with the Kerala Government to ascertain damage caused by the floods of 2018. The company has already mapped out large parts of Punjab and Maharashtra, working with their local governments. The startup has also mapped mines in Telangana.
Its private sector clients include Larsen & Toubro, Vedanta and the Adani Group.
Mumbai-based Haptik was founded in 2013 by Swapan Rajdev and Aakrit Vaish as a consumer product to troubleshoot problems through the mobile. Users would send queries to representatives of various companies or virtual assistants through the application, and got answers.
Today, Haptik is a B2B solution for enterprises, building chatbots for companies to deploy on websites and applications. It uses AI, ML and natural language processing for its chat platform. Haptik's list of clients include Fortune 500 companies like Samsung, Coca-Cola, Future Retail, KFC, Tata Group, ICICI Bank, and Mahindra Group, among others.
The Government of Maharashtra recently partnered with Haptik to develop a chatbot as part of the Right to Services Act of 2015.
The chatbot, available on Aaple Sarkar (meaning your government in Marathi) Right to Services website, will help citizens resolve their queries and access information regarding 1,400 public services managed by the government.
Bengaluru-based startup CoRover, founded by Ankush Sabharwal, is an AI and ML-enabled platform connecting travellers with one another, administrative staff, and verified and curated service providers.
Last year, CoRover launched its chatbot ‘Ask Disha’ on the Indian Railway’sIRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation)website.
Ask Disha, which can work without internet connectivity, answers queries including those on train timings, payment gateway options, PNR status, and how to cancel a ticket.
According to the IRCTC website, Ask Disha has solved more than two million queries in a span of around three months.
The chatbot answers queries in English and can also translate the results in Hindi. The startup plans to enable it to support a combination of Hindi and English, commonly called ‘Hinglish’ soon, and introduce voice chat, which will enable customers to ask questions instead of typing them out.
Ask Disha generates revenue from advertisements and deals from ecommerce players like Amazon.
Hyderabad-based Thanos is a drone technology startup that helps farmers spray pesticides using drones. Founded by Pradeep Palelli and Prathyush Akepati in 2016, Thanos initially provided aerial surveying solutions using drones.
The founders later went on to prototype an Autonomous Aerial Pesticide Spraying Platform that covers an acre of land in up to 20 minutes. The land boundaries are marked using a mobile application. This not only reduces the input costs for farmers, but also improves yield and soil health.
Thanos is supported and mentored by RICH (Research and Innovation Circle of Hyderabad), a Telangana Government Initiative.