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IIT Madras faculty founded 94 startups till October 2021 with combined valuation of Rs 1,400 crore

Faculty members at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M) set up 94 startups valuing more than Rs 1,400 crore. The startups varied from hybrid aerial vehicles to waste-to-crude-oil conversion as well as efficient water transport solutions.

IIT Madras campus

IIT faculty members, according to officials, have founded, advised or mentored, more than 240 ventures within the last decade, with a combined worth of Rs 11,500 crore. In October of this year, 94 startups were directly founded by IIT-Madras faculty members. Relying on investments from angel investors or venture capital firms, these startups have a combined worth of around Rs 1,400 crore.

The number of faculty-founded startups increased exponentially from 37 in April 2017 to 69 in June 2019, 80 in 2020, and 94 in October 2021, according to figures published by the IIT Madras Incubation Cell (IITMIC). The IIT Madras Incubation Cell, one of India’s notable deep technology startup hubs, incubated these startups.

Around 77 faculty members from multiple departments at the institute were engaged in setting up startups. According to the IITMIC, this number is about 13 percent of the entire institute faculty strength of around 600, which is regarded on par with the finest universities in the world.

A startup is desperately trying to design a new breed of aircraft known as hybrid aerial vehicles for vertical takeoff and landing as well as long-distance flying to transport goods and passengers, eventually leading to air taxi operations. Another is building small launch vehicles to deploy micro-and nano-satellites into orbits in space.

Among the prominent startups are one that aims to build micro gas turbines for decentralized power generation and another that aims to turn any type of waste – from municipal solid waste to agricultural waste – into crude oil. Another startup plans to build earth observation satellites that use multi-sensor fusion and edge computing in space.

Tamaswati Ghosh, Chief Executive Officer of IIT Madras Incubation Cell, in a statement said, “over 12 percent 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 Departments of Civil, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering have the most associated startups or spin-outs, followed by Aeronautics and Applied Mechanics. Adding further Ghosh said, “several faculty members are involved in more than one startup either as a founder or mentor.”

These startups tend to focus on deep technology sectors such as biotechnology, manufacturing, robotics, data sciences, healthcare, energy and renewables, space-tech, Internet of Things (IoT), waste management, water treatment, and e-mobility, among many others.

“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,” said Raghuttama Rao, CEO of Gopalakrishnan-Deshpande Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (GDC). “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.”

Source: Press Trust of India

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