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Investor action picks up pace in deep tech innovation, in India

Deep tech sector in India has been maturing well over the past few years, with many new and upcoming technologies grabbing the attention of passionate founders. AI-ML, blockchain, robotics, Industry 4.0, IoT, analytics, cyber-security, space-technology and allied applications are some of the areas picking up pace, says Jatin Desai, Managing Partner, Inflexor Ventures, a VC firm investing in deep tech innovation

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What are the current trends in the deep tech sector in India?

Jatin Desai, Managing Partner, Inflexor Ventures

In our view, deep tech is any frontier technology that may or may not have been commercially proven at scale yet, but has the potential to create vast impact on society. Deep tech sector in India has been maturing well over the past few years, with many new and upcoming technologies grabbing the attention of passionate founders. Overall, there has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur, and this is true for the deep tech space as well. Some areas that we see picking up pace are AI-ML, blockchain, robotics, Industry 4.0, IoT, analytics, cyber-security, space-technology and allied applications and others.

What kind of opportunities does the deep tech segment hold for a country like India, and its many complex problems?
In India, playbook that has worked in developed markets may not fully be applicable in local context. Therefore, there is a case to be made for solving these issues using technologies. For instance, in cases such as route optimisation and logistics which are global problems, the Indian market has certain extra layers of complexity. These complexities have the potential to be solved by deep tech innovations, which can then be sold outside India as well. Similarly, healthcare, autonomous transportation, communication, finance and others are all areas which have additional complexities in India where tech can play a role in the future.

As an investor in deep tech innovation, how do you see the sector evolving in the near future?
Deep tech innovation is a long game, and in many cases, once the technology is proven there will be mass market commercialisation. That is when the real value is unlocked. The internet was built in the 1990s, but it took another two decades for its true potential to be tapped in markets such as India. As a deep tech investor what we see in near future is that some of the early adopters are starting to scale up and become commercially successful. There is increased investment and exit activity which will continue to grow and mature and newer startups will come up more vigorously.

Do you foresee the emergence of any disruptive technology in times to come?
Quantum computing, autonomous vehicles, block-chain based technologies, advances in cybersecurity and others are all technologies that will slowly trickle down into our society soon. It is only a matter of when, not if. The end product may differ greatly from what we are seeing today, but the underlying principles of technology remains the same.

Any other significant factors you would like to highlight about the growth of deep tech startups in India?
Many new accelerators, incubators are springing up around the country. These science and technology focused programs encourage budding entrepreneurs to consider this line of work as a viable career path. These are encouraging signs of times to come. Another key factor is the availability of high quality talent in the Indian market. While there is a recent inflation in engineering costs, in the long run, India still remains a talent surplus economy, and therefore, there will always be bright minds available to help build your vision, deep tech included. Investor action has also picked up in the space, with a lot of local and global players setting up deep tech and frontier technology focused funds in India. Overall, it’s an exciting time to be building the technologies of tomorrow!

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