To build on the recent penchant and thrust on entrepreneurship, Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India, which has so far supported and sponsored research projects throughout educational institutes, is now set to invest in Prime Minister’s ambitious Startup India campaign.

DST’s latest initiative NIDHI (National Initiative for Development and Harnessing Innovations) will invest Rs 500 crore in ventures over the next few years with the aim of nurturing knowledge-based and technology-driven ideas and innovations. This was announced by the Union Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The initiative, according to him, aims to augment socio-economic development by encouraging entrepreneurial aspirations based on innovation. Besides providing technological solutions to the immediate requirements, of the society, the programme is aimed at, encouraging innovation-based entrepreneurship and generating more avenues for wealth and job creation.

Committed to connect and strengthen all innovations, starting from unearthing, to sustaining and securing them, NIDHI not only supports an idea but also provides a market to it. PRAYAS (Promoting and Accelerating Young and Aspiring Innovators and Startups), a component of NIDHI, would provide innovators a supporting grant up to 10 lakh rupees and access to Fabrication Laboratory (Fab Lab) to help them build their prototypes. The innovators can work towards the realisation or implementation of their ideas with the help of the Seed Support System that would provide support up to 1 crore rupees per start-up.

This process is implemented through DST’s Technology Business Incubators, which currently numbers more than 100 and located at various academic and research institutes of repute like the IITs, IIMs and NITs. These incubators that are focused on a particular Technology Domain, presently houses more than 2000 start-ups and have been the breeding ground for many successful stories in affordable health care, diagnostics, applications of unmanned aerial vehicles, renewable energy, service oriented online platforms, payment gateways etc.

Further, the recently concluded National Expert Advisory Committee Meeting has proposed to establish six Centres of Excellence and 14 more Technology Business Incubators, ten of which will be provided with Seed Support Systems for start-ups.

Apart from these, Entrepreneurs in Residence, a fellowship programme for entrepreneurs, and other programmes for scaling up of start-ups through accelerator program and women empowerment through entrepreneurship are also in the pipeline.

NIDHI tries to achieve these by bringing in various ministries and departments of the central government, state governments, academic and research institutes, mentors, financial institutions, angel investors, venture capitalists, industry champions and private sectors into the gamut of their stakeholders. It has collaborations with the Department of Higher Education, MHRD, to establish Research Parks and Start-up Centres in eminent academic institutions. To add to its effort of materialising goals for innovate entrepreneurial development, DST has also forged partnerships with corporates like Intel, Lockheed Martin, Texas Instruments and Boeing.