2018 — The Year That Was…
As anticipated by us at the beginning of the year, 2018 was special. CIIE completed 10 years of incorporation as an autonomous legal entity through which we have done most of our work over the last decade. We take the opportunity to thank all you well-wishers who have been an integral part of our journey during this period. As expected, nostalgia hit us and we thought the best way to celebrate the decade will be through celebrating the journeys of the (s)heroes supported by us. We published a coffee table book “CIIE — Celebrating 10 years of Experiments and Entrepreneurs” covering stories of 50 amazing and inspiring enterprises, and also the story of creation and re-creation of CIIE.
Of course, we also partied really hard to celebrate the same!
Celebrations aside, 2018 will always remain special for us. The year marked the beginning of three awesome new initiatives at CIIE — which will drive a lot of our work over the next few years.
a) Bharat Innovation Fund — Premised on CIIE’s decade-long experience of backing innovative start-ups, we announced the first-closing of the Bharat Innovation Fund — designed as an early stage deep-tech fund to nurture and catalyse globally competitive, IP-driven innovations to disrupt emerging sectors. Marquee names including corporates like Philips and Bajaj Electricals, insurers like ICICI Lombard, and fund-of-funds like SIDBI-FFS and BIRAC-AcE Fund, joined us in this endeavor. Through the fund, we identified and are in the process of backing some amazing entrepreneurs disrupting traditional sectors ranging from oil and gas, market-research, lending, cancer research, medical diagnostics, big-data among others. We publicly announced our first two investments — in emotion-AI focussed Entropik, and Detect Technologies, an intelligent drone and non-destructive testing based asset monitoring solution.
b) Bharat Inclusion Initiative — To continue our endeavors to catalyse underserved sectors, we launched a first-of-its-kind partnership to boost the creation of inclusive technologies for India’s masses — Bharat Inclusion Initiative (BII). We were delighted to receive support from marquee partners including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, J.P Morgan, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Omidyar Network. During the year, through BII, we initiated six research projects aimed at identifying new financial inclusion use cases and trained over 150+ fintech ventures through our sprints. We are also accelerating 11 amazing new ventures through the Financial Inclusion Lab. We have also made seed-investments in Kaleidofin — a saving and investment goal focused startup for underserved segments, and a stealth-mode startup creating new APIs for banking and fintech space.
c) Centre of Excellence — Our tech-incubation efforts also received a significant boost in 2018, as Government of India’s Department of Science and Technology approved the development of our technology-business incubator as a Centre of Excellence (CoE). The Government’s support will enable us to democratise our incubation and acceleration efforts to newer geographies and sectors.
While we started some amazing new landmark initiatives in 2018, our past initiatives and start-ups continued to bloom too.
Creating Regional Ecosystems — Through Startup Oasis and Innocity, we continued to energise regional ecosystems across Rajasthan and Gujarat through initiatives like SAP Accelerator, Crafts Accelerator, T-Start Incubation Program, Innocity, and many more. During the year, we provided training and acceleration support to over 115 startups, provided grant, debt and equity financing to 100+ startups including Drivamp, Next Big Innovation Labs, NoPo Nanotechnologies India, StrataEnviro, among others.
Accelerating the Best across India — Through our flagship national programs, Power of Ideas and India Innovation Growth Program, we scouted for over 8000 ideas, provided mentoring and training support to 119 at IIM Ahmedabad, and provided financial support to 76+ ventures. During the year, we also provided seed-investments to several startups including Agricx Lab, Oizom Instruments, Dheeyantra Research Labs, Reculta Solutions, Trillbit Technologies, Bombay Hemp Company, Heelium Sports, and many more, creating solutions across areas like agritech, defence, environment-tech, among others. We also launched the ShelterTech Accelerator to help startups apply tech towards building affordable housing solutions.
Scaling and Exiting — Our portfolio companies continued to scale-up attracting capital, talent, customers, and attention. 2018 marked the 30th successful exit for CIIE and its affiliates. Infuse’s portfolio company Fourth Partner was the highlight for the year as it gave us a multi-bagger exit during the phenomenal $70 million investment by TPG’s Rise Fund. Other successful exits during the year included Ace Micromatic Manufacturing Intelligence Technologies, Boond Engineering, iNICU Med, Eagle Photonics, Gridbots Technologies, Fibre Optika Technologies, among others.
Research — We continued to scale up our academic and applied research efforts. We undertook sector intelligence with publications on Farming as a Service with Bain, Financial Inclusion with JP Morgan and Microsave, and Sustainable Mobility & Energy Access commissioned by AVPN. Our academically driven research on incubation, entrepreneurial learning and effectuation were featured at several reputed international conferences. We recently hosted a panel symposium at the Academy of Management Small Conference on Startup to Scale-up. Our six fellowships in financial inclusion are bringing in novel insights and shared them through over 18 blogs. We also published two use cases financial inclusion, eight human stories, and insights from our research on several forums and platforms.
We had sailed out in 2008 with intentions to be a market maker. During the last decade, we have impacted some spaces like cleantech and agritech, that needed a market-based intervention. We are still determined on that path. We are also determined to work with early-stage startups, where there is little support and the risk of failure is the highest. Long yet eventful, challenging yet fruitful, profound and oddly-satisfying, 2018 has been a landmark year for us at CIIE.
We end 2018 on a high — as the Government of India just named us as the winner of the National Entrepreneurship Award for 2018 for our work in building the incubation ecosystem. We are super excited about 2019 and are counting on you to continue to make an impact on entrepreneurship in and entrepreneurs of India.