The state-run Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) has provided over Rs 25 crore as innovation grant to a wide range of technology and product startups since 2017, laying a firm foundation for a robust ecosystem enabling a variety of ventures to flourish.
The innovation grants serve as the first tranche of seed capital for a product startup in Kerala, which intends to pursue an innovative technology idea and translate it into a full-fledged venture.
Over the last five years, KSUM has scouted more than 8,000 innovative ideas from tech startups, including student startups, an official statement said here. Among them, 2,000 startups made their final pitches through 23 Idea days and a total of 550 innovations won KSUM innovation grants.
Of the total amount of over Rs 25 crore sanctioned as Innovation Grants, around Rs 17 crore has already been distributed to startups through various schemes like Idea Grant, Productization Grant, Scale-Up Grant, Women Productization Grant and Startup Research (R & D) Grants, it said.
Despite disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, KSUM maintained the tempo of supporting startups by sanctioning a total of Rs 689.15 lakh as grant to 170 startups in 2021-22 in different categories, which was the highest for a Financial Year, which included Student Idea Grants.
Of the amount sanctioned as a grant, Rs 347.42 lakh was released as an initial tranche, it said.
Commenting on the significance of grants, KSUM CEO John M Thomas said these initial rounds of funding have served as the core capital for a large number of startups to set up their ventures, most of which have turned into success stories in due course by benefiting from venture capital funds.
Startups are getting funds in the form of Venture Capital and Angel Funds. But we are proud that KSUM acted as the core capital provider for these startups and entrepreneurs in their crucial formative stage, Thomas said. He noted that as the state's nodal agency for startups, KSUM could sustain the momentum of funding despite various challenges on the way, including the Covid-19 pandemic. During last financial year, more than 620 startups applied for KSUM's innovation grant and 515 of them were shortlisted for pitching.
The selected startups then pitched their ideas before 55 evaluation panels in online mode. The three-month-long evaluation process was concluded in February this year.
The panels chose around 102 startups and 68 Students' ideas for providing funding.
Scaleup Grant was given to 17 startups, Productization Grant went to 40 startups, Idea Grant Innovator extended to 31 startups, Women Productization Grant was given to nine startups and Startup Research Grant provided for five startups.
Innovation Grant is a critical validation of a product or technology, its scalability and prospective investability. We are giving opportunities to more startups to pitch their innovation, thereby enhancing their initial efforts to identify potential entrepreneurs and encouraging the overall ecosystem, said Surya Thankam, Manager- Innovation Financing, KSUM.
Kerala is supporting technology startups with Innovation Grant worth Rs 30 lakh and seed loans worth Rs 15 lakh. The innovation grant will be augmented along with KSUM's FFS (Fail Fast or Succeed) Incubation programme for improving outcome, the statement further said.
KSUM is the nodal agency of the Government of Kerala for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities in the state.
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