By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 14 Apr: The State Industries Directorate and the Department of Industries in Uttarakhand have been promoting start-ups in the state for some time now but the initiative in this direction launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given it an added push. A day of interaction between the entrepreneurs who have come up with their start-ups in Uttarakhand and the media was held at the State Directorate of Industries here today. The initiative for this interaction was taken by Director General of Industries Ranvir Singh Chauhan (IAS) and Director of Industries SC Nautiyal.
Director General, Industries, Ranvir Singh Chauhan said that the Uttarakhand Start-Up Policy had been announced in the year 2018 but it is being revisited now. Soon, a new and much improved policy would be announced which would help even more entrepreneurs set up their operations. He also disclosed that the State Government had also formed a CM Advisory Group on Start-ups, Innovation and Entrepreneurship two years ago to advise the government on strategic initiatives to promote start-ups in the state.
Director, Industries, SC Nautiyal disclosed that, although, Uttarakhand had been once regarded as a late starter in the start-up ecosystem in the country, but there had been rapid progress in past three years. While, till the end of the year 2018, there were only 100 start-ups in the state, the figure had now gone beyond 500 at the end of 2021. Nautiyal added that, at present, the state has around 10 incubators, 180 registered mentors and investors and more than 13 partner organisations which provide shared services. Of late, Start-up Uttarakhand had been recognised as one of the most active ecosystems in the country. He claimed this was due to specific programmes and interventions undertaken by the Uttarakhand Government.
It was also stated that, of the total number of Start-ups announced and registered in the state, 117 had managed adequate funding from various agencies. There are now more than 20 focussed programmes to promote start-ups in the state, which are in various sectors like Food Processing, Agriculture, Medical and Health Technologies, Textile, Energy, Human Resource Development, Robotics, Waste Management and other innovative technologies.
Some of the entrepreneurs were present today and they briefed media about their ideas and the status of their start-ups. Some of the entrepreneurs present today have an excellent academic background ranging from Engineering to PhDs from IIT Roorkee to Pantnagar and other premier institutes.
Dr Juhi Garg, an ex-Professor at UPES in Dehradun, has come up with a company named DivIn Pro Pvt Ltd which works in the IT Sector and is focussed on Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) dedicated to supporting and empowering start-ups and businesses with customer service excellence. Besides this, it also aims at empowering women and works in the social services sector, says Dr Garg.
Robin Nagar and Dr Shikha Prakash, an Ayurvedic physician and daughter of leading Ayurveda practitioner Vaidya Balendu Prakash, have come up with a company named Valley Culture Exports, which they say is focussed on reviving the traditional Himalayan food practices and popularise them across the country and the globe. According to them, at a time when health consciousness has become a major issue, reviving what were traditional superfoods in the hills and rural India like millets, traditional forest honey and other local spices and herbs such as turmeric with high curcumin content, spices such as Jakhia. The company has worked hard to build trust and relationship with the farmers in Uttarakhand and is now working with over 4,000 farmers, the majority of them being women and, of them, over 600 being widows. The project, they say, has been incubated at Runway, an incubation programme of UPES and powered by India Network.
Dhruv Tomar has come up with M-Lense Research Pvt Ltd and, to begin with, he has come up with a specific product which has a single use disposable and portable milk adulteration testing card called as PaperPro. This device, according to Tomar, not only tells if the milk is adulterated but will also tell which kind of adulteration is present in the milk. More than 14 types of milk adulteration can be detected with the device, which has been appreciated by Forbes India, Startup India, Pusa Krishi Incubator and even by the Ministry of Animal Husbandry.
Taranjit Singh, an engineer from Pantnagar Varsity of Agriculture & Technology, has set up Innovocon Learning Solutions Pvt Ltd. Initially set up in the Food Processing and Agriculture sector, the company has now diversified into skill upgradation and training programmes. According to Singh, many of the engineers and other professionals get employed by leading companies when they pass out or even before but, later, they are found to be not having the skills as required by the hiring companies, which leads to a high rate of attrition of 27 percent in India and even higher rate in US and Canada. His company has developed an AI based Intelligent Tutoring System for one to one networking for training. The company has started project based learning for colleges and industry to produce skilled manpower, mentored by industrial experts and scholars from top notch engineering colleges.
Abhijeet Roy and Somya Panwar have come up with a great innovative idea in the Waste Management Sector through their enterprise, Plades Innovations, in which they are making tiles for roofing, flooring and pavements, etc., from non-recycled plastic waste. Roy says that this project will help not only the environment by utilising the plastic waste but also using the plastic waste in a productive manner so that it is not remain dumped in open spaces. The bricks and tiles made from plastic waste have been found to have more strength than the traditional bricks and tiles.
Soumen Karmakar and Shuddha Ghosh have come up with a company called Villotale Technologies Private Ltd in the Travel and Tourism Sector. The very interesting slogan they have come up with is that ‘every village has a tale to tell’. The company aims to combine experiential, rural and destination tourism with local ecosystem so that the visitors can relive their childhood memories, too, with activities like kite flying and picking up fruits and vegetable produce directly from the field and trees and consuming them on the spot. The company aims at providing class services making use of technology even in remote areas and also providing professional training to the local people to enable them to provide best services to their clients. This project has also received national recognition for an Uttarakhand Start-up.
Rajat Jain has come up with Sunfox Technologies Pvt Ltd, a healthcare company that aims at decentralisation of healthcare. The company has developed the world’s smallest ECG monitoring unit called Spandan, which has helped save thousands of lives in remote areas of the country as well in African countries. The company has also developed a portable ICU monitor and has registered several national and international patents in this regard. The company aims to continue research and designing and developing smart and futuristic technologies in healthcare. Rajat Jain has also been able to interact with PM Narendra Modi in Mann Ki Baat and even in Dehradun, and has been appreciated by Modi.
Akash Soni, an IITian from Roorkee, has come up with Indigenous Energy Storage Pvt Ltd, a very innovative energy sector company. Considering the fact that the world is moving towards Electric Vehicles and that India is also pushing it as the future, the company aims to manufacture batteries made from locally available raw material. Soni says that, presently, Lithium Ion Batteries are in use in EVs but Lithium is not locally available material and therefore his company has come up with alternative Sodium Ion batteries which deliver similar performance compared to LFP Li-Ion batteries but with much higher energy density. The sodium ion batteries will not only cost less but will be much more recyclable than currently commercialised lead acid batteries at similar costs. The materials the company is working to use are sodium (common salt) and paddy straw. Five International patents have been registered and the company already has orders from countries like Switzerland and other European countries. This will also help protect the environment by using paddy straw and locally produced salt, etc.
Siddharth Arora has come up with Fermentech Labs, a company that is producing industrial enzymes and speciality chemicals from agriculture and farm waste material such as pine needles and paddy straw. This green technology aims at encouraging industry to adopt green technologies and reduce their dependence on synthetic chemicals. The enzymes the company is aiming to produce are for the textile industry and is already supplying to leading textile companies now and for animal husbandry industry.
Kashish Pahwa and Mitul Agarwal have come up with Trippn Tale Outdoor Adventures Pvt Ltd which is basically a booking company for camping sites across Uttarakhand and Maharashtra and aims to expand across the country. The sites that the company offers include hillside sites, beaches, forests, luxury and budget camping. This is an AirBnB company.
Besides them, some companies are also working in very innovative areas such as robotics and drones as well as space technology and healthcare delivery systems.
Entrepreneurs coming up with novel ideas on Start-ups in U’khand
By Arun Pratap Singh