Nasscom launches second phase of its mentor programme focusing on AI startups

India’s software services industry body The National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) unveiled the second phase of the 10,000 start-ups initiative that will focus on mentoring deep technology ventures in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and blockchain.

The Accelerate 10X programme, that aims to catapult the nation’s deep tech startup ecosystem onto the next level, will tap the trillion dollar opportunity in the future demand for AI-related technology.

Under the Accelerate 10x programme, 100 start-ups will be mentored every year for a period of six months and will be supported on three aspects including product, technology (engineering and deep tech lab) and access to patient capital.

Unlike the flagship 10,000 start-ups programme that supported early age start-ups, the Accelerate 10X will mentor mature and advanced stage AI start-ups.

Nasscom has forged partnerships with global accelerator Tech Stars and tech giants such as Google, Facebook, IBM, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft that will help set up labs and innovation centres across the country as a part of the programme.

In addition, it is also collaborating with companies such as PwC, Xinova and CEOQuest for strategic mentoring and will work closely with venture capital and private equity firms including AXILOR, SAIF Partners and Inventus Capital Partners.

The artificial intelligence (AI) startup sector saw an increase in funding of over 70 percent in 2017 with natural language processing being one of the major focus areas for investors. Estimates suggest 50 percent of firms in India are implementing AI in their products, Nasscom said.

Artificial intelligence has the potential to add $957 billion, or 15 percent of current gross value added to India’s economy in 2035 and deep tech startups will drive this transformation and the broad structural transformation of the economy, it said.

The programme will focus on key startup sectors such as healthcare, agriculture, education, smart cities and infrastructure and development of AI across sectors.

“As the AI revolution sets in, the ecosystem needs to adapt, and more so in our role as an enabler. The Accelerate 10X program further reaffirms 10,000 start-ups efforts in evangelizing and mentoring India’s latent, untapped talent in emerging technologies.  We will continue its drive towards catalysing deep tech start-ups, build category leaders and support start-ups to create not only for India but also scale up and solve for the world,” said Debjani Ghosh, President, Nasscom.

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