From a startup aiming to make hybrid aerial vehicles to the ones working on converting waste to crude oil and efficient water transport solutions, faculty members at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras founded at least 94 enterprises having a combined valuation of over Rs 1,400 crore.
According to officials, the IIT faculty members have founded, mentored or advised over 240 startups in the past decade which today have a combined valuation of Rs 11,500 crore.
The number of companies directly founded by IIT-Madras faculty members stood at 94 in October this year. These have a combined valuation in excess of Rs 1,400 crore, based on investment raised by these startups from angel investors or venture capital firms.
According to data shared by the IIT Madras Incubation Cell (IITMIC), the number of faculty-founded startups rose sharply from 37 in April 2017 to 69 in June 2019 and 80 in 2020 before touching 94 by October 2021. These startups were incubated by the IIT Madras Incubation Cell, one of India's leading deep technology startup hub.
As many as 77 faculty members from various departments of the institute were involved in setting up startups. This figure is nearly 13 per cent of the total institute faculty strength of around 600, which is considered on par with the best universities in the world, the IITMIC claimed.
A startup is aiming to make a new breed of aircraft called hybrid aerial vehicles for vertical takeoff and landing as well as long-distance flight to carry goods and passengers, ultimately leading to air taxi operations.
Another working on mini launch vehicles to launch micro- and nano-satellites into space orbits.
A startup aiming to produce micro gas turbines for decentralized power generation and another aiming to convert any kind of waste -- from municipal solid waste to agri waste -- into crude oil are among the notable ones.
Another enterprise aims to make earth observation satellites with multi-sensor fusion and edge-computing in space.
Tamaswati Ghosh, Chief Executive Officer, IIT Madras Incubation Cell, said, "over 12 per cent of institute faculty are co-founders in our incubated startups working across a breadth of globally critical domains. This underlines our ability to translate cutting-edge scientific innovations to the field."
The highest numbers of associated startups or spin-outs are from the Departments of Electrical, Mechanical and Civil Engineering, followed by Aeronautics and Applied Mechanics.
"Several faculty members are involved in more than one startup either as a founder or mentor," Ghosh said.
These startups work primarily in deep technology areas, ranging from manufacturing, robotics, energy and renewables, e-mobility, space tech, Internet of Things, data sciences, biotechnology, healthcare, water treatment, waste to energy and waste management, and e-mobility, electric Vehicles, among other areas.
"Setting up a deep tech startup is a hard task, and the gestation time from idea to reaching the market can be as much as 4-5 years. Even getting from the Lab (post research stage) to an incubator can take 2-3 years. There is a 'valley of death' that a startup faces between the lab and the incubator and first investor. Most academicians find it difficult to make the jump from the lab to the incubator," said Raghuttama Rao, Chief Executive Officer, Gopalakrishnan-Deshpande Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (GDC).
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