Mission Innovation in Punjab () It was conceived as a catalytic organization in 2020 To strengthen the startup ecosystem in Punjab, support startups in creating high-value jobs, and drive investment into the state.
Established as a public-private partnership, IMPunjab is collaborative in nature. Its mission is to support budding entrepreneurs and startups across the state of Punjab through virtual and physical engagements, training, stakeholder networks, and collaboration opportunities. It also brings resources from all over the world – world-class mentors, pervasive toolkits, and curated content, and makes it accessible to people.
Get Punjab startup ready
“After the agricultural and industrial boom, Punjab has missed the current economic wave i.e. technology and startups. This has not led to investment and jobs in Punjab. The founders of Zomato, Ola, Blinkit and Flipkart are all Punjabis but they migrated to locations with well-developed startup ecosystems due to lack of Opportunities in Punjab,” IMPunjab President, Pramod Bhasin told YourStory.
He explains, “Businessmen from Punjab have set up Indian companies with a net worth of more than $50 billion and foreign companies with a net worth of more than $100 billion. While Punjabis were at the forefront of the startup movement, Punjab was not their home. In revitalizing the nature of risk-taking in Punjab and spurring young and innovative entrepreneurs to start and start in Punjab. Hence, the government and the private sector have come together to form a unique partnership to offer a best-in-class platform for budding entrepreneurs.”
In its quest to make Punjab ready for the “startup movement”, IMPunjab works with many stakeholders, including the Punjab diaspora, investors, entrepreneurs, incubators, schools and colleges, business leaders and artists. The mission says it has hired more than 350 startups.
“We are now on the cusp of getting startup registrations daily. We actively engage with registered startups on a monthly and sometimes, weekly basis by providing them ongoing support and achieving milestones such as creating a financial model, a pilot run, and creating a GTM strategy ( going to market). We are constantly helping them build their capabilities and provide open source content as well as access to exclusive master classes and webinar sessions by experts,” Pramod explains.
The mission is also reaching out to educational institutions across the state to tap and mentor potential talent so they can create “world-class startups that reach rhino status sooner rather than later,” according to Pramod.
The three pillars of the mission are the Pollinators, the Accelerator, and the Innovation Fund.
Pollinators build communities by bringing together stakeholders and creating networks. This helps incubators, investors, angels, industries, academia, and e-college cells leverage each other’s strengths.
“We are actively working with higher education institutions nationwide to reach out to students to form college-level entrepreneurship awareness e-cells. We also conduct a monthly Cross-City Innovation Challenge to identify the young entrepreneurs coming from the region and support them throughout their journey,” says Pramod.
IMPunjab has also launched the Punjab Incubator Network for Entrepreneurs (PINE), matchmaking sessions for networking and training to get incubators to support and co-incubate local startups.
The second pillar, the Accelerator, provides structured mentorship, mentor support, pilot opportunities, capacity building programs, catalytic capital, and business services to support early-stage startups.
The mission is in the process of launching its first batch of 15 startups under the IMPunjab Accelerator programme. IMPunjab will provide three-month structured support to 15 early stage revenue start-ups and will provide them with Rs 3 lakh as trial capital to validate assumptions and create scalability. The sector-neutral program will have startups from various sectors, including agricultural technology, deep technology, food processing, and education technology.
IMPunjab also organizes a city-specific event called Startup Day, across the cities of Punjab, to drive registrations. During startup day, participants get dedicated time with a panel of experts to get feedback on their ideas and startups. They can also attend sessions by industry leaders and be part of the startup community.
As part of the Innovation Fund Pillar III, IMPunjab plans to launch a Rs 150 crore VC fund to fund startups that meet the required criteria.
We have already received commitments. The state government will provide a fulcrum with 10% of the total amount, while we will collect the rest through our alliance with companies and investors. Out of the box, and with the support of the government, we will provide cash prizes, model prizes, etc. to the winners of various competitions to encourage more entrepreneurship and thinking,” says Pramod.
The government appointed Pramod Basin (Founder of Genpact, Clix Capital and Asha Impact) to chair IMPunjab in 2020. The Board of Directors also consists of Saurabh Srivastava (Nasscom, IAN, IVCA), DS Brar (Former CEO of Ranbaxy) and Dr. Ajay Shah (Author and Senior economists), and director Bobby Bede, along with two ex-officio chief secretaries.
In the end, Pramod, along with government support, brought together a like-minded and passionate advisory board that includes people like Naina Lal Kidwai (former country head of HSBC India), Manoj Kohli (country president of SoftBank India, and former CEO and CEO of Bharti). Airtel), Rajan Anandan (MD at Sequoia Capital India, former VP at Google), Pritika Mehta (Founder of SocksSoho), Jeet Jandu (Director at India Trade and Investment), Sehraj Singh (MD at Nasper Limited/Prosus), Ido Aharoni (Israeli diplomat, Brand Israel), Ajay Chowdhury (founder of HCL), and Jaspal Bindra (President of Centrum Group).
Somveer Anand is the CEO and Mission Director of IMPunjab. He leads the team from Mohali, Chandigarh.
The road ahead
IMPunjab’s goal is to reach a working population of 14 million, 30 universities, 1000 colleges and 8 lakh students based in Punjab.
IMPunjab launches accelerator in Kalkat Bhawan, Mohali with virtual and physical interventions. The mission also plans to set up government and national angel networks to catalyze upstream funding for start-ups and help them scale their businesses.