Bharat Innovation Fund, an early stage deep-tech and IP focussed venture fund, affiliated with the Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) at Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad, announced its first close recently. The pre-Series-A and Series-A focussed $100M fund has secured around 50% commitments from marquee institutional investors. The investors in the fund are corporates, banks, insurers, and fund of funds – including SIDBI through its Fund of Funds for Startups (FFS) program, ICICI Lombard, Philips, Bajaj Electricals Ltd., RBL Bank, among others. Bharat Innovation Fund is built on a decade long startup engagement experience of CIIE, which has been a pioneer of accelerator programs and seed-funds in India since 2008 – and with support from Tata Trusts. CIIE has seeded over 200 startups across its various programs like iAccelerator, Power of Ideas, Powerstart, India Innovation Growth Program, Startup Oasis, among others.
Some ventures supported by CIIE through its various initiatives in the past include Ridlr, Recruiterbox, Forus Healthcare, MechMocha, Tookitaki, and Razorpay. In 2013, CIIE had launched India’s first cleantech focussed venture fund – Infuse Ventures – which has backed startups across the cleantech spectrum. Earlier in the month, Infuse’s portfolio company Fourth Partner Energy raised $70mn investment from global private equity major, TPG Growth’s The Rise Fund. CIIE had last month also announced the first closing of its inclusion focussed intervention – Bharat Inclusion Initiative.
Talking about the first close of this new fund, Kunal Upadhyay, Managing Partner of Bharat Innovation Fund; said, “Indian entrepreneurs are producing globally-competitive IP-driven innovations across themes like healthcare/biotech, agriculture, energy, and enterprise-tech – enabled by cutting-edge research and trends like AI, ML, IoT, India Stack, among others. Bharat Innovation Fund will catalyse these transformational deep-tech startups by providing them capital, access to market, strategic inputs and partnership connects. We are delighted to have significant interest from investors who believe in our vision of creating truly radical innovations from India.” Bharat Innovation Fund is a unique investment platform that in addition to capital also brings together global networks, strategic insights, distribution channels, research infrastructure, and deep sectoral understanding of its investors and team.
The Bharat Innovation Fund team has a diverse background and come with years of experience in venture investing, incubating, building massively-scalable tech products, and leading corporates and startups. The partners of the Fund include Kunal Upadhyay and Shyam Menon (who were co-founders of Infuse Ventures), Ashwin Raguraman (who was COO of India Innovation Fund), Sanjay Jain (former Product Manager at Google and Chief Product Manager at UIDAI), and Som Pal Choudhury (former Managing Director of Analog Devices, India). Through its unique investors and team, Bharat Innovation Fund hopes to significantly de-risk the process of conversion of these early stage startups into competitive companies of consequence.
Commenting on Bharat Innovation Fund’s first close, M K Raveesha, CGM, SIDBI said, “SIDBI and FFS (DIPP) are delighted to partner with the Bharat Innovation Fund to support deep-innovation driven startups. Bharat Innovation Fund is a unique partnership comprising of strategic and financial investors – and a strong experienced team. We hope to together create breakthrough and globally competitive solutions from India”. RBL Bank’s Executive Director, Rajeev Ahuja said, “We are pleased to partner with Bharat Innovation Fund and support startups across fin-tech, agriculture, renewable energy and other emerging sectors. We are excited to be able to provide strategic inputs and ideas, access to capital and cutting-edge technology solutions to the entrepreneurs — and help them build great companies of tomorrow.”
“We saw deep insight and enthusiasm embedded in team Bharat Innovation Fund. We hope to see the fund helping to bring to the fore Indian startups introducing globally competitive innovative solutions and benefit from the resultant value creation”, said S. Gopalakrishnan, Chief Investment Officer, ICICI Lombard.