India now has the third-highest number of startup incubators and accelerators in the world after China and the US, says a report by IT industry body National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) and Zinnov Consulting.
With 140 incubators and accelerators, India has inched past Israel, whose count stands at 130. However, the gap with the top two is still yawning—China and the US have over 2,400 and 1,500 incubators and accelerators, respectively.
The number of incubators and accelerators in India grew a sharp 40% in 2016, with more than 40 of them seeing the light of the day, says the report titled ‘Incubators/Accelerators (I/As) Driving the Growth of Indian Start-up Ecosystem–2017’. Of these, 30 academic incubators were established under the government's 'Start-up India Stand-up India' initiative.
Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi-NCR continue to be the hubs, with more than 40% of all incubators and accelerators concentrated in these areas. However, Tier-II cities are also gaining traction, with the number in such locations rising a steep 66% over last year.
An incubator typically mentors a startup for 6 months to 3 years, providing resources such as dedicated office space, networking with investors and technical training, among other things. In comparison, an accelerator typically hand-holds for 3-12 months, providing sessions on venture capital, road shows, CEO coaching and developer tools.
Only recently, The/Nudge Foundation, which is backed by Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, Tata Trusts and other industry heavyweights, launched N/Core, an incubator for non-profit startups working towards poverty alleviation. In another instance, chipmaker Intel India, IIT-Bombay’s Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the central government’s Department of Science and Technology came together to start a hardware incubator programme in August last year.
Most incubators in India are run by academic institutions (nearly 51%) while the rest are either corporate (9%), independent (32%) or government-supported (8%), shows the report.
Some multi-national companies, like payments firm Paypal and pharma giant Pfizer, run their own incubators. IT giant Cisco and e-commerce solutions provider Pitney Bowes run their own accelerators.
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