‘Deep tech’ policy to be sent to Cabinet for approval, says scientific adviser

In July 2023, the government unveiled a draft of the policy for public comment and following feedback from industry, a final version is reportedly ready. ‘Deep tech’ is a buzzword in tech and startup circles with no precise definition as yet.

January 05, 2024 09:09 pm | Updated January 06, 2024 12:01 am IST - NEW DELHI

File photo of Prof Ajay Kumar Sood, Principal Scientific Advisor

File photo of Prof Ajay Kumar Sood, Principal Scientific Advisor

The government will be sending a note, on a new ‘deep tech’ policy for India in the coming weeks to the Union Cabinet for approval, said Prof. Ajay Kumar Sood, Principal Scientific Advisor at a public event on January 5.

In July 2023, the government unveiled a draft of the policy for public comment and following feedback from industry, a final version is reportedly ready. ‘Deep tech’ is a buzzword in tech and startup circles with no precise definition as yet.

India’s draft policy document on ‘deep tech’ cites Startup India’s database, which claims that there are 10,298 startups recognised by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade which are classified across various sub-sectors within the larger deep tech space as of May 2023. Broadly, deep tech startups are those that have developed intellectual property that promise an outsize impact but are yet to be realised, and are premised on new scientific breakthroughs. Crucially, businesses and startups based on ideas that are easily replicable do not qualify as deep tech startups.

Also read | Deep Tech spreading to multiple domains: Nasscom

Dr Sood however expressed disappointment at the number of such ‘deep tech’ startups in India. “Currently only about 10% of startups are ‘deep tech’. That is not a very good sign and it will take much more effort and handholding,” he said at the event meant to commemorate 40 years since the founding of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR). The latter is affiliated to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and was set up to link scientific and technological developments in CSIR labs to industry.

The DSIR would in the coming days focus on transferring technology to medium and small scale industries, the CSIR would target industry at large and the National Research and Development Corporation, also a CSIR entity, would focus on startups, said N Kalaiselvi, Director-General, CSIR. “In this way we can do justice to India’s science and technology system,” she added.

A major impediment to sprucing up ‘deep tech’ startups is funding. “Unlike startups focussed on fintech or retail software, the quantum of funds needed is vastly larger,” said VK Saraswat, Member (science), NITI Ayog, who was also present at the DSIR function.

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