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Special Content

Issue no 11, 10 - 16 June 2023

Igniting Startup Synergies India's G20 Presidency Sparks an Era of Innovation

Dr. Neeraj Sinha, Garima Ujjainia, Naman Agarwal


The demand for global governance has intensified, necessitating a concerted effort to tackle the intricate challenges of the contemporary world. A multitude of issues that were previously contained within local, regional, or national boundaries have transcended these confines and now exert a global impact, resonating across the realms of economy, society, and politics. In light of mounting apprehensions regarding stability, security, education, healthcare, and even our very existence, the establishment of intergovernmental organisations capable of facilitating complex interactions has become an imperative. In response to these pressing crises, the Group of Twenty (G20) nations emerged. The Group of Twenty, commonly known as the G20, was established with the aim of addressing urgent global economic concerns. Consisting of 19 nations and the European Union, the G20 represents a significant portion, accounting for approximately 85 percent, of the world's gross product. Moreover, these nations encompass three-quarters of global trade and are home to two-thirds of the world's population. As a result, the decisions made within the G20 wield significant influence in effecting reforms on both national and multinational scales. Presently, India proudly occupies the esteemed 18th Presidency of the G20 nations, embracing a profound theme encapsulated by the Sanskrit phrase 'fl‚ÈäÊÒfl ∑ȧ≈ÈUê’∑§◊' - "One Earth Š One Family Š One Future". This evocative theme endeavours to foster a shared and interconnected understanding of our collective humanity. Throughout its term at the helm, India aspires to exhibit its invaluable experiences, knowledge, and models as exemplars, poised to guide and inspire other nations, particularly those on the path of development. The priorities set forth by India within the G20 framework will be thoughtfully shaped in close collaboration with G20 partners and nations united in their pursuit of innovative solutions to global problems. In this pursuit, it is believed that startups shall emerge as a substantive remedy, ensuring a comprehensive and action-oriented outcome for India's Presidency of the G20 this year.

India and the Culture of Startups

Over time, startups have assumed a pivotal role in assessing and nurturing a society's spirit of innovation. Embarking on entrepreneurial ventures is no longer regarded as taboo; rather, it is seen as a manifestation of talent and courage. The startup culture has proven its agility in promptly responding to market and societal demands. A startup refers to a company that leverages novel technologies to conceive, develop, produce, and market new products, services, or systems. Typically operating within a broader business landscape, startups aim to create solutions that exert a significant impact on society, fostering both progress and socio-economic change. Owing to their innovative nature, these startups become generators of employment, thereby bolstering the workforce and contributing to a stronger economy. A thriving economy, in turn, fuels the growth of cities, regions, and the entire nation. To foster a culture of startups in India, the Government of India has undertaken various programmes, with notable examples including 'Standup India.' Launched by the Honourable Prime Minister in August 2015, this initiative seeks to assist startups with bank financing, ignite entrepreneurial spirit among young Indians, establish a conducive framework for new businesses to thrive, and position the country as an ideal destination for startups. Furthermore, in 2016, the Government of India established the Atal Innovation Mission, a flagship programme under NITI Aayog, to instill an ethos of innovation and entrepreneurship in the country's youth. The Atal Innovation Mission supports innovators at every stage, with over 10,000 Atal Tinker Labs established in Indian schools, along with 68 Atal Incubation Centres and 14 Atal Community Innovation Centres dedicated to nurturing young entrepreneurs and assisting startups in their establishment. AIM has been at the forefront of promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in the country, impacting approximately 7.5 million students, supporting over 3,000 startups, and building a network of over 5,000 mentors.

Nevertheless, startups have emerged as the new propellant for the economic engine of society. As India sets its sights on becoming the global hub for startups in the future, Startup20 has rightfully been launched as an Engagement Group under the G20 presidency of India for the year 2023. The group aims to establish a global framework for fostering collaborations among startups, corporations, investors, innovation agencies, and ecosystem enablers. The ultimate objective of Startup20 is to craft a global narrative that champions startups and fosters mutual synergies.

Startup20: The Youngest Member of the G20

The G20 was originally established as a "crisis committee" with the primary objective of addressing the financial and economic crises of the late 90s. However, once the immediate crisis was mitigated, the G20 evolved into a global steering committee. Each presidency of the G20 involves consultations among member nations and invited countries, with input from various engagement groups within the G20 Nations. These consultations are a collaborative effort among the participating countries and their representatives. Currently, there are 11 official participation groups, namely Business20, Civil20, Labour20, Parliament20, Science20, Startup20, Think20, Urban20, Women20, and Youth20, which provide inspiration for these consultations. Among them, Business20 is the oldest affiliated group, while Startup20 is the most recent addition. Startup20 aims to foster synergy within the global startup ecosystem and promote collaboration across sectors such as education, finance, energy, sustainability, agriculture, and technology. The discussions within the Startup20 Engagement group will primarily focus on cooperation through the task forces: Foundation, Alliance, Finance, Inclusion, and Sustainability. Each working group or task force is led by a chair and co-chairs, who guide the discussions and work towards achieving consensus within the group. The chair and co-chairs represent G20 countries and work together during their tenure to identify relevant needs and develop solutions for the global startup ecosystem.


The Path to Progress

Startups have emerged as catalysts for economic revitalisation, restructuring, and expansion, fuelled by creativity. They are paving the way for a decentralised yet collective future, tailored to the unique requirements and evolving values of each nation. The global startup industry, valued at approximately £3 trillion within a world economy of roughly £90 trillion, is experiencing rapid growth. The pandemic has underscored the importance of startups in driving innovation to navigate the swiftly changing global landscape, saving lives, and restoring economic well-being. Moreover, startups are increasingly providing platforms and technologies that facilitate crossborder collaboration and innovation, aiding economies in achieving their Sustainable Development Goals. As a result, startups play a vital role in generating employment, fostering technological advancement, driving long-term growth, and managing crises on a global scale. India has emerged as the world's third-largest startup ecosystem, boasting 108 unicorns and over 98,000 recognised startups. The launch of Startup20 during India's current G20 Presidency aims to position India as a "Global Startup Hub." The five task forces of Startup20 are working collaboratively to reach a consensus that will have a profound impact on the global startup ecosystem:


Foundations and Alliances: This task force focuses on establishing consensus-based definitions and terminology for startups across G20 nations. Furthermore, it aims to compile a handbook for startups, strengthening the foundation of Startup20. Additionally, the task force seeks to develop a framework for fostering global partnerships and promoting cross-country collaboration among stakeholders within the G20 startup ecosystem.


Finance: The finance task force concentrates on formulating policies and frameworks that facilitate startup financing and create a supportive environment by providing networking opportunities and launching platforms.


Inclusiveness and Sustainability: These two task forces are dedicated to establishing mechanisms that expedite the growth of startups addressing significant gaps in the Sustainable Development Goals. They will focus on areas of common interest to all countries, as well as groups requiring special attention, such as women entrepreneurs and individuals with disabilities. Through the recently launched Startup20 Engagement Group, India aims to contribute to the development of an inclusive framework that supports innovative startups through strategic cooperation among G20 countries. While each G20 country nurtures its own startup ecosystem internally, the group will collaborate to enable startup financing models and foster co-creation, particularly in globally significant sectors


Consensus and Collaboration Start-ups are crucial to the global economy. They create employment opportunities, revolutionise industries, and promote technological advancements. The World Economic Forum indicates that start-ups are responsible for generating about 70% of all new jobs in several economies. In order to build consensus, the Startup20 Engagement will work towards creating a playbook that can help start-ups to navigate through the start-up jungle, focusing on pillars of Inclusion, Sustainability, Finance, and Alliances. The group has held two deliberations - the Inception Meeting in Hyderabad, Telangana (27th to 29th January 2023) and Sikkim Sabha in Gangtok, Sikkim (18th to 19th March 2023)


The Inception Meeting in Hyderabad served as a precursor to establishing the agenda for the Startup20 Engagement Group during the Presidency. Over 200 participants from 24 countries (including G20 and invitee countries) took part in the conference. The primary focus of the meeting was to introduce the task forces and their objectives to a larger audience. The representatives shared their feedback during the discussions held. The Sikkim Sabha, which was an extension of the Inception Meeting, saw the participation of sixteen G20 countries. During this meeting, the discussions centred around the task forces, where delegates discussed and deliberated on policy objectives, recommendations, actions, and outcomes. These discussions were held in multiple rounds with diverse representation and documented through a series of feedback to build the final consensus. India's G20 Presidency aims to bring consensus among its member countries through honest conversation. While the larger group of G20 will focus on building agreements on social protection, financial inclusion, digital economy, health and technology, sustainability, and growth; the engagement groups will work towards taking this to the people, making it a Jan Bhagidari Movement


The Conclusion

The following steps of the Startup20 Engagement Group will focus on finalising the Policy Communique after incorporating the feedback from discussions and deliberations during these meetings, and after achieving consensus from the G20 Nations. The Engagement Group will focus on creating standard definitions and terminologies to be used in a collaborative start-up ecosystem of G20 Nations and setting up institutional mechanisms for the start-up ecosystems across G20 nations to form desired alliances from Foundation and Alliance Task Forces. The Finance task force will enable a global flow of capital within the G20 Start-up network by promoting investments and creating an investment mechanism that all can use. To make start-ups more inclusive and sustainable, Startup20 will encourage a set of mechanisms to accelerate start-ups addressing critical SDG gaps or representing groups whose inclusion requires particular focus (e.g., women entrepreneurs) as a whole. Through this Engagement Group, official policy statements capturing the generally accepted recommendations of the G20 nations will be compiled and presented. Additionally, as a result of the above interactions, several publications on guidelines, best practices, frameworks, and strategic recommendations will also be received. Furthermore, India also aspires to create a 'Global Innovation Centre' which can carry out such activities and deliver the results of this commitment. Through the G20 Presidency, India envisions bringing the spirit of One Earth, One Family, One Future to the world. In the same spirit, the Startup20 Engagement Group aspires to build and sustain a global narrative to support start-ups and make them part of our collective future through inclusive and diverse partnerships. While initially established as a crisis management committee for an ailing global economy, the G20 has evolved into a vital platform dedicated to fostering worldwide economic expansion and stability. Through individual follow-up and engagement groups, aspirations are shared, objectives are discussed, and recommendations are formulated based on the outcomes achieved. Each presidency brings forth its own distinct narrative, shaping the direction of this esteemed assembly. As India takes the helm of the Group of Twenty, under its chairmanship, the emphasis will be placed on fostering cooperative dialogue and consensus, with a profound focus on human-centric globalisation. The words of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi resonate with optimism and determination- "India's G20 Presidency shall embody a steadfast commitment to healing, harmony, and hope."


(Dr Neeraj Sinha, is Senior Adviser, NITI Aayog. Garima Ujjainia is Young Professional, Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog. Naman Agrawal is Specialist, NITI Aayog. They can be reached at naman.agrawal@nic.in)

Views expressed are personal