Budget 2023: Finance Minister opens up a goodie bag for all stakeholders
Focus on every key stakeholder from enterprises to startups to individual taxpayers and farmers
Anil Joshi Last Updated:February 01, 2023 15:29:02 IST
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tables Union Budget 2023-24. PTI
The Union Budget 2023 has attempted to touch every aspect of the economy and continues to give 7 percent growth guidance. It was expected that this Budget would have something for everyone and it did meet those expectations. The FM has focused on every key stakeholder from enterprises to startups to individual taxpayers and farmers.
Being a year prior to elections, the Budget on the face of it may seem like a populist one, but announcements are a result of a strong economic performance. Some of the key high-impact announcements for the startup sector, which will give a further growth impetus to young entrepreneurs are
Launch of agri accelerator fund
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The finance minister has announced the setting up of an agri accelerator fund to support agri-tech startups and bring in more tech advancement to the farming sector. It is well known that our agri sector needs tech intervention at every level of the value chain from increasing the yield to proper storage of perishables, supply chain disruption, and most importantly increasing farmer income.
While the details of how this fund will operate, i.e., whether the capital will be directly obtained by the startups or will the government go for the Fund of Funds approach are expected to be clarified in the coming days. However, this is definitely a big positive for the agri-tech sector and will further encourage VCs to invest in startups that are addressing the different need gaps all across the agri-value chain
Focus on med-tech
The announcement to set up 157 nursing colleges and the introduction of multidisciplinary courses for medical devices will ensure that India can aspire to become a hub for hi-tech medical manufacturing and research. These initiatives, which will see high participation from the pharma and healthcare sectors, will also aid startups in getting access to the latest innovation and will lay down the groundwork for disruptive innovation in the medical research vertical which is currently missing in the healthcare segment. This will certainly help in promoting health-tech and medi-tech startups
Make AI for India
Today there is hardly any tech disruption where Artificial Intelligence (AI) hasn’t played a pivotal role in. AI is now deeply embedded in every aspect of our lives and even businesses. The government’s futuristic bet on AI comes on the back with the announcement to set up 3 AI centres. No doubt, we won’t stop at 3 and will see this being adopted by other top institutions in the next few years.
The benefit here is two-pronged – The industry will gain first-hand access to the latest AI-backed innovations, and startups will see the top-quality talent coming out of these centres. Such a culture being promoted at the college level will improve the quality of entrepreneurs coming into the AI segment.
In the last 2 years especially, the government both at the Centre and State has advocated the adoption of robotics for manhole cleaning. Startups like Genrobotics have been actively working in this segment as they have developed the first Made in India robot to clean manholes with an aim to put an end to manual scavenging. The government’s direct intervention through the Budget on this will push more VCs to take bets on robotics and IoT startups, too, which are looking to address this massive problem as manual scavenging has been declared illegal but continues to be practiced. We expect more such startups to get funded given the focus of the govt to put an end to this inhuman practice.
5G tech adoption
The push towards 5G technologies will help startups working in diverse areas to develop AI-led platforms for meeting the need gap in farming, education and medical, and healthcare. Young and aspiring entrepreneurs from top engineering colleges will get support in developing their business idea and investor support especially should be expected for startups that will be incubated in the 100 labs that have been announced for setting up in engineering colleges in India. Most importantly it will also improve job creation opportunities for the youth as they will be equipped with industry 4.0 skills to build their ideas in the AI segment
Boost to Green growth
As the finance minister laid out a roadmap for India to move to net zero carbon by 2070, the continued push on electric vehicle (EV) adoption is good news for EV startups and OEMs. In the last 4-5 years, EV adoption has been steadily rising both in the enterprise and consumer sectors. As the govt continues to push the green growth agenda, we will see many EV-focused startups accelerate their growth plans especially those involved in battery swapping, manufacturing, and EV fleet business.
The writer is Managing Partner, Unicorn India Ventures-an early-stage tech-focussed VC. He tweets @unicornindia Views expressed are personal