Mining behemoth Vedanta Group to invest Rs 100Cr in startups via corporate acceleration programme

Mining baron Anil Agarwal is the latest to join a growing list of India Inc billionaires who're taking a keen interest in the startup ecosystem. Vedanta Spark will cover overseas startups too.

Mining baron Anil Agarwal, who runs the globally diversified Vedanta Group, had first hinted at investing in startups in 2017.

He'd spoken about setting up a $1 billion fund to back young entrepreneurs, particularly in the natural resources sector, which the company is well-versed with.

The business conglomerate has announced that it will invest Rs 100 crore to accelerate tech startups through 'Vedanta Spark' — an open innovation programme it unveiled last October.

Vedanta Spark — which will focus on sustainability practices — will also be extended to overseas startups in future. Through the initiative, the company is "looking to partner with early-stage, growth stage, and venture stage tech startups in order to tap into massive innovation and growth opportunities," it said in a statement.

With this, Anil Agarwal is the latest to join the industrious list of India Inc billionaires, who're taking a keen interest in the startup ecosystem. Others include Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata, Anand Mahindra, and Azim Premji, among others, who've led to the rapid growth of Corporate Venture Capital in the country.

The Spark initiative has recorded over 1,350 registrations from 19 countries with over 250 overseas startups participating in the open innovation challenge. Of this, 23 startups have been selected after a rigorous evaluation process by experts.

These startups would get opportunities to partner, collaborate, learn, pilot products, scale-up, and get funding from the Vedanta Group.

In a statement, Vedanta Group CEO Sunil Duggal said, “We will make it our duty to embrace these startup partners as we strongly believe Vedanta can derive huge enterprise value. We will make this a periodic programme going forward and consider expanding this partnership with global educational and research organisations as well."

Vedanta has partnered with Coimbatore-based incubator Forge to develop its corporate accelerator programme. Forge catalyses industrial digital transformation by bringing government and industry to collaborate with startups by enabling innovation grants, seed capital, knowledge resources, and global partner networks.

Vish Sahasranamam, Co-founder and CEO, Forge, said at the launch,

"It is easily the most comprehensive corporate open innovation programme in India thus far, spanning 16 opportunity themes and over 75 innovation challenges, cutting across several core industrial functions in a globally diversified conglomerate. Vedanta Spark is an amazing opportunity for Forge to execute a global corporate startup accelerator programme.”

Vedanta Spark is looking at startups working in areas such as 360 Degree Sustainability and Excellence in HSE, Operational Excellence – Volume, Recovery, and Efficiency Improvement, Asset Optimisation and Predictive Maintenance, Exploration, Mining, and Blasting, and so on, the company statement added.

Edited by Suman Singh


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