India, US ink pact to boost cooperation among startups, promote innovation

San Francisco/New Delhi: India and the US have signed an agreement to promote innovation through increasing cooperation among startups, address regulatory hurdles, and share best practices on fundraising by entrepreneurs, an official statement said on Wednesday.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) on enhancing innovation ecosystems through an innovation handshake under the framework of India-US Commercial Dialogue was signed on November 14 in San Francisco.

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal is in San Francisco.

The Commerce and Industry Ministry said the MoU was signed at an industry roundtable meeting.

Indian industry players, CEOs from major ICT companies, executives from venture capital firms, and founders of startups in the critical and emerging technology space participated and discussed ways to enhance US-India technology collaboration.

“The MoU is signed to connect the two sides’ dynamic startup ecosystems, address specific regulatory hurdles to cooperation, share information and best practices for startup fundraising and promote innovation and job growth, particularly in critical and emerging technologies (CET) as identified under India-US initiative for Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET),” the ministry said.

It said the MoU signals a joint commitment to strengthen the startup ecosystem in deep tech sectors and promote cooperation in critical and emerging technologies.

“It is poised to positively impact economic activity, attract investment, and generate employment, especially in startups working in CET areas,” it said.

The scope of cooperation would include a series of India-US Innovation Handshake events. Two events are scheduled to take place in India and the US in early 2024, which include an investment forum aimed toward helping startup companies of the countries take their ideas and products to market, and a hackathon in Silicon Valley, where US and Indian startups will pitch ideas and technologies to help address global economic challenges, it added.

The dialogue is a cooperative undertaking at the ministerial level between India and the US to facilitate regular discussion to deepen ties between business communities, encompassing regular government-to-government meetings to be held in conjunction with private sector meetings to facilitate trade and maximise investment opportunities.

Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Goyal have led the roundtable meeting to officially launch the two ambitious ‘Innovation Handshake’ agenda, previewed by US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June.

“Through the Innovation Handshake, the United States and India are forging a critical tech partnership that will further strengthen our interconnected innovation ecosystems,” Raimondo said, adding that this is an important step to bolster the US-India commercial relationship.

In June, Prime Minister Modi paid a state visit to the US at the invitation of President Biden.

Goyal said that the Handshake signals a joint commitment to strengthen the startup ecosystem and promote cooperation in CET between the two nations.

“Signing an MoU to Enhance Innovation Ecosystems through an Innovation Handshake is an important step in growing the India-US partnership for the 21st century,” Goyal said.

The Innovation Handshake, a concept developed under the US-India Commercial Dialogue, will bring the two governments together with venture capital leaders, entrepreneurs and other industry and institutional stakeholders in a series of frank discussions designed to open up opportunities and address challenges in the priority sectors identified under the US-India iCET.