[2020 Outlook] Indian startup ecosystem raring to break new ground in the new year – YourStory

The Indian startup ecosystem has seen significant growth in the past decade, with many of India's homegrown startups developing innovative solutions that have gone on to disrupt the industries that they operate in and take on established players across the globe.

And this trend -- experts and Indian startup industry observers say -- is poised to continue in the new decade too.

As we step into 2020 and usher in a new decade, the Indian startup ecosystem has much to look forward to, and there's a palpable sense of enthusiasm and optimism for the year ahead, albeit mixed with a tinge of anxiety as concerns over the impact of a macroeconomic slowdown weigh.

Even as the year 2019 saw the creation of around nine new unicorns, with the Indian startup ecosystem attracting investments of close to $12 billion, the later part of the calendar year was marred by controversy surrounding WeWork and a slowdown in the domestic economy.

However, industry observers believe these trends from the latter half of 2019 are unlikely to have a significant negative impact on Indian startups, particularly given the fact that India's entrepreneurial ecosystem emerged as one of the shining stars of the Indian economy.

Flipkart, Ola, Paytm, Swiggy, and Freshworks -- the brightest stars of the Indian startup ecosystem -- have now become household names, with more startups being added to this group in 2019, particularly with the emergence of new unicorns like Delhivery, Bigbasket, Dream11, and Druva to name a few.

As industry observers say, the startup ecosystem in the country will go through a course correction during this year, but the spirit of entrepreneurship is bubbling with energy.

Today, Indian startups, by solving huge challenges faced by the country, are also becoming role models for global companies.

This has resonated across the world with Google even writing a letter to the US Fed Reserve asking them to look into the strides made by Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and how the worlds largest economy could learn from it.

This, in fact, is a testimony of the strides made by the startup ecosystem in India.

The startup ecosystem in the country has also evolved over a period of time. If the business to consumer (B2C) was the flavour of the season at one point of time, it turned towards fintech, especially the revolutionary changes emanating from digital payments, and now it has moved into the world of software as a service (SaaS).

This evolution will continue, and the startups will continue to address the needs of those segments of the population, which fall outside the ambit of the typical English-speaking crowd residing in the metros.

Amidst all this is the continued investor interest in Indian startups. The year 2019 saw Tiger Global, the leading venture capitalist and private player, coming back with vigour by investing in numerous startups, and others like Sequoia, Lightspeed, and Accel matching up to the tempo.

This looks like more or less compensated for the kind of hibernation that SoftBank went through in 2019, where it just invested in one startup Lenskart.

There were 134 exits last year, and most of these exits remained undisclosed. According to YourStory research, Bengaluru regained its top spot in funding in 2019, especially after Delhi-NCR narrowly beat the city in 2018. The silicon city of India raised $4.3 billion with 273 deals, when compared to Delhi, which raised only $1.3 billion in 2019 with 73 deals.

Paytm, Udaan, and Delhivery were the top funded startups in 2019 beating Swiggy, Oyo and Byjus, which were the top companies in 2018. Only Paytm had $1 billion investment in 2019.

The good news is that in 2019, Series B, Series C, and Series D rounds were good, and have all crossed more than $1 billion in total funding, unlike 2018, where only Series C saw a billion dollars in total funding.

Last year saw some rumbling within the startup ecosystem globally with very tepid listing of Uber and Lyft, followed by the WeWork fiasco, which was one of the brightest stars globally.

Balakrishnan says,

Fintech became the number one funded sector in 2019 by raising $2.5 billion. It was followed closely by the transportation and logistics industry, which raised $2.05 billion. Ecommerce remained third. Interestingly, Software-as-a-Service, which has never figured in the top ten funded industry for the last three years, entered the top ten.

Agriculture or Agritech saw the biggest rise since 2018, from just $64.5 million raised in 2018, the funding doubled to $177.9 million in 2019. Sectors like gaming, IoT, and AI continue to see a drop in funding over the last three years.

Interestingly, the food processing industry increased its appetite, and has more than doubled since 2017. From just $60.2 million raised in 2017 and $77.09 million in 2018 to $144.90 million in 2019, the industry captured the consumption story in India.

Despite these changes in the startup ecosystem and the looming threat of an economic slowdown in the country, the spirit of entrepreneurship remained very much vibrant.

As the startup ecosystem enters a new decade, it is likely to see new business models emerge, different breed of entrepreneurs will come to the fore, and there will be a different kind of or unique challenges to be solved.

Already, there are some early signs showing with the emergence of deep tech startups, which are not looking at some transactional services, but diving deep to solve issues at the core.

(Edited by Megha Reddy)

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[2020 Outlook] Indian startup ecosystem raring to break new ground in the new year - YourStory

[2020 Outlook] What investors expect for the Indian startup ecosystem in the year ahead – YourStory

India witnessed a steady rise in the emergence of unicorns in 2019, across segments like logistics, grocery delivery, B2B, and mobility. The nine unicorns born this year include Delhivery, BigBasket, Ola Electric, Druva, Icertis, Dream11, CitiusTech, Lenskart, and Rivigo.

But will this trend continue into 2020? Will the valuations grow? And will startups continue to raise more funding?

Sanjay Nath, Managing Director, Blume Ventures says, (If you look) at the numbers, everyone is going to be cautiously bullish this year.

And despite the global economic slowdown, capital flow into venture and private equity will continue as it runs in a seven to 10-year period. But Alok Goyal, Partner, Stellaris Ventures, cautions that there might be some distinction between early and late stage startups.

The first year of the new decade is likely to put a stronger focus on India versus global, while SaaS and core technology companies that target markets outside India continue to scale.

Sanjay believes B2B SaaS segment will continue to grow as these startups have cracked the capital-efficient business model and also have a global reach.

This makes it important for startups to put defensible business models and plans in place. An investor might bet on a company based on the sector, but the business model needs to be completely in tune and the founder must specify how the funds will be deployed, investors say.

Naganand Doraswamy, Managing Director, Ideaspring Capital, believes that while SaaS and B2B models are in focus, later-stage funding is still going to be slower. You may need both on-premise and SaaS models, but you cant get away without a SaaS strategy, he says.

Alok agrees that later-stage funding will see a slowdown.

The key factors investors are betting on are growth in mobile internet users, explosion of data consumption, pervasive 4G coverage, and the expected rise in disposable income, driven by increasing GDP per capita.

India has over a billion consumers with unique problems to be solved in every sector. While funds like Accel have already closed their funds, deployment is more likely during earlier stages. This may also be the WeWork effect, with the industry feeling the need for course correction.

Speaking of how 2019 fared, Tarun Davda, Partner and Managing Director, Matrix Partners, says, 2019 has been a record year for the Indian VC ecosystem, and a very active year for us at Matrix with over 20 new investments in the year.

Tarun believes three key trends stood out in 2019:

Sanjay Nath of Blume Ventures adds that 2019 saw the comeback of some large hedge funds that had been dormant in the market, especially in SaaS and Fintech.

Most investors agree that this is an incremental theme every year. It was more apparent in 2018 and 2019, which saw several second-time entrepreneurs.

Alok Goyal of Stellaris Ventures says there has been a strong stratification of the venture ecosystem as well.

Sameer Brij Verma, Managing Director, Nexus Ventures, says 2019 was not just stellar in terms of the investments made, but also because there was a vast increase in the quality of entrepreneurs.

He adds that the past two years have been interesting for Indian startups.

Alok agrees, adding that the year saw a lot of second-time entrepreneurs who came with experience in building for scale and helped grow younger startups.

What stood out in 2019 for Sameer of Nexus Ventures? Education, financial services, digitisation of SMEs and the B2B segment.

Sameer adds that the SME segment will continue to grow in the New Year.

Tarun, of Matrix Partners says 2019 saw the emergence of DINVIB (digitally native vertically integrated brands) consumer brands, social commerce, and fintech (neobanks) as strong sectors.

The year 2019 saw Tiger Global investing in NinjaCart and others like DeHaat raising funding. And 2020 is likely to put the spotlight on agritech and impact-driven startups.

Deepak Menon, Chief Programme Officer, EMEA at Village Capital, agrees.

He explains that startups are trying to solve hard problems on ground. Citing an example, Deepak says that a lot of people in the financial inclusion space that they work with have a professional background in financial services, banking, or insurance. They have dealt with clients, seen challenges, and are keen to solve them.

They're trying to build business models to address some of these problems. The shift that we are increasingly seeing involves more people looking at business, getting these things right, and building non-profit models around impact, Deepak says.

Avnish Bajaj, Founder and Managing Director, Matrix India, inconversation with Rajinder Balaraman, Director, Matrix India, in a recent podcast said,

All in all, 2020 is going to be a cautiously bullish year.

(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)

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[2020 Outlook] What investors expect for the Indian startup ecosystem in the year ahead - YourStory

THE CONNECTIVITY B2B ECOSYSTEM: How 5G and next-gen networks are transforming the role telecoms play in enterp – Business Insider India

Connectivity is central to doing business today - enterprises rely on telecoms to connect the various sprawling parts of their businesses as they engage in digital transformation and modernize practices. It will become even more important as telecoms roll out their blazing-fast 5G networks, which enable near-instantaneous communication alongside complementary wireless protocols that let companies monitor assets scattered around the world.

5G and other next-generation networks can allow telecoms to become the key partner in enterprise connectivity, where they previously were one among many. But telecoms aren't uncontested in trying to take advantage of the growing opportunity in enabling enterprise transformation: Cloud, software, and technology vendors are also out for the market, setting the stage for a clash of titans between two connectivity models that will reign in different industry verticals.

In the Connectivity B2B Ecosystem Report, Business Insider Intelligence unpacks the enterprise telecommunications ecosystem at the cusp of the 5G era. First, we highlight the ways that companies employ telecommunications technology in business, both today and in the near future with 5G. Next, we look at the various types of companies involved in the wider ecosystem and explore the relationships between these company archetypes. Then, we examine the players involved in these relationships and look at specific efforts and initiatives that are driving change and transforming the companies involved. Finally, we look to some of the key trends that will define the next decade of B2B telecommunications.

In full, the report:

The companies mentioned in this report are: Amazon, Arm, Artik, Arundo Analytics, AT&T, C3 IoT, Cisco, Dell, Ericsson, Everactive, GE, Google, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Hitachi, Honeywell, Huawei, IBM, Intel, MediaTek, Microsoft, Nokia, Nvidia, Oracle, Particle, PTC, Qualcomm, Salesforce, Samsung, SAP, Semtech, Siemens, Sierra Wireless, Sigfox, Splunk, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

Interested in getting the full report? Here are three ways to access it:

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THE CONNECTIVITY B2B ECOSYSTEM: How 5G and next-gen networks are transforming the role telecoms play in enterp - Business Insider India

Chuck Todd Finds All the Disinformation In ‘Ecosystem Problem’ on the Right – NewsBusters

Chuck Todd ended 2019 with a special edition of Meet the Press on "Alternative Facts: Inside the Weaponization of Disinformation." It felt more like moving Reliable Sources to NBC. It had all the same pomposity about liberals possessing all the truth and conservatives being responsible for all the disinformation.

Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon was the only pundit from the right, and he was Todd's punching bag:

TODD: Matthew, he's getting at what I wanted you to tease out here, which is almost -- it's the cultural connection that the right has decided it doesn't have with mainstream media. So it doesn't matter what we report. "Well, you don't understand my life. So why should I care?"

CONTINETTI: Right. And that cultural disconnect is decades old.

TODD: Sure.

CONTINETTI: What gives us this perfect storm of alt-truth is a few things. One is you have the technological change, which Kara mentioned. Another is you have the institutional breakdown, which I think you showed earlier in the program. Confidence in these big institutions has just totally failed.

TODD: Thank God for Congress, or we'd be the bottom.

CONTINETTI: And then what makes it -- then you have President Trump, right, who kind of plugs into -- benefits from both of those changes but also uses it to amplify his message. And so what you end up with is this place where no one can really agree on the very basic material governing our democracy.

Journalists like Todd decry we can't agree on "shared facts," but so there are so many facts they can't stand to discuss -- take the Horowitz IG report -- that it's a one day story after three years of pushing Russian collusion.

As The Washington Post acknowledgedthe Horowitz report destroyed the Steele dossier, Todd has nothing to say about how aggressively Rachel Maddow & Co. pushed that disinformation. The problem is only on the Other Side (click "expand"):

TODD: Matthew, I wanted you to address what I think is an ecosystem problem, at least on the right. I want to put up something that my colleague, Ben Collins, put here. It's a bit of an ecosystem here. It'll say, something starts on 4Chan. There's the subreddit of Trump. InfoWars might pick it up. Then it starts inching into the mainstream. Gateway Pundit might just say, "Oh, what's this about?" Then it gets to Drudge, might have a provocative headline link. Rush might say it in his fun, little way. Then it does make its way into Fox News and then, of course, your Facebook feed. How do you create more accountability in the conservative ecosystem for, basically, dealing with propaganda?

CONTINETTI: Well, it's hard work. And I think it begins by trying to instruct young conservatives in the canons of journalism, mainly, empirical verification, right? And this, I think, the distrusted institutions, thats longstanding among conservatives, has led many of them to no longer believe in the idea that you need, kind of, evidence, in order to forward a fact. Or they don't believe in certain verified sources, credentialed sources, of evidence or information. They don't trust any of it.

There should be a devotion to facts and honesty in conservative media. Sites like ours have no interest in crackpot sites like InfoWars. But if the conservatives have a trust problem with the Old Media, it's only exacerbated by Todd's loaded suggestions that "you people don't care about good reporting, and you spread lies with impunity. You guys have an accountability problem."

Just like Reliable Sources, Todd fiercely defended the anti-Trump press, and suggested they had no need to be questioned.

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Chuck Todd Finds All the Disinformation In 'Ecosystem Problem' on the Right - NewsBusters

Looking back at the Indian startup ecosystem in 2019 – YourStory

Today marks the end of another decade, which has been nothing less than a roller-coaster ride with various technological and economic advancements.

The saying, Data is the new oil defined the year as chatbots, cloud computing, and blockchain became buzzwords, and artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) became the cornerstone technology for a myriad of industries.

This year also witnessed some major events, both at home and across the world. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched its second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2 with homegrown technology.

While competition got fierce in the smartphone sector with foldable phones launched by Samsung and Huawei, the startup ecosystem too got competitive.

India is now the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world, after the US and China. According to YourStorys nine-month funding report, homegrown Indian startups raised $7.67 billion in the nine months ended September 30, 2019, down by about four percent from the comparable period in 2018. As far as the number of deals goes, startup funding deals were just three deals short of the total 606 deals seen in the comparable period last year.

While an economic slowdown has subdued the fundings in startups, this has not stopped entrepreneurs from chasing their dreams. 2019 also saw nine startups getting into the coveted unicorn club - BigBasket, Delhivery, Ola Electric, Druva Software, Icertis Software, Dream11, CitiusTech, Lenskart, and Rivigo.

At YourStory, we introduced new series such as The Turning Point, Behind the Scenes, which showcased never-heard-before stories of startups and entrepreneurs.

As we wrap up this year, as well as this decade, and bid our goodbyes, we will take you through some of the trends we witnessed and some of our top stories.

Wish you a very Happy New Year.

The Indian ecommerce industry has created pathways to bring more shoppers to the online platform, which will only strengthen in 2020, but there are worries about the delay in implementing the right policies.

In 2019, in what can be described as truly a step towards embracing the future, digital storytelling reigned strong across every domain of media publishing. As a medium dedicated to bringing to you some of the most powerful, impacting, and inspiring stories of businesses, women, leaders, and changemakers, YourStory ensured the storytelling was in sync with global standards. With the year coming to a close, heres a look at 10 video stories that you our readers and viewers loved the most.

Startup Bharat is a series of stories celebrating the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tier II and III India. Startups from beyond the metros are showing the way when it comes to innovation, and we have rounded up YourStorys best Startup Bharat stories of 2019.

From Dimple Parmar who launched Love Heals Cancer to raise awareness about the disease after she lost her husband, to acid attack survivor Lakshmi Agarwal whose story of strength and perseverance has inspired the nation, SocialStory brings you our top 10 picks from our Monday Motivation series of 2019.

In a bold and far-reaching move, Indias electric vehicle goals are set to flourish as Niti Aayog, the governments thinktank brandishes the emobility mantra. Of the 26 million vehicles sold in India, even if 10 percent were to go electric by 2022, the vision for a cleaner, greener country would be on its way to realisation.

Around the year, SMBStory covers the inspiring stories of SME entrepreneurs who have not only contributed to the Indian business ecosystem but have also seen growth by implementing a sustainable business model. These entrepreneurs have surely set an example for current and future generations by showing just how essential it is to build businesses that last.Here are some of their stories.

Foodtech sector trends 2020

In 2019, the foodtech sector saw unicorns Swiggy and Zomato establishing their stronghold, growing exponentially, and focussing on single-serve meals. But 2020 is likely to see increased supply, improved choices, faster deliveries, and greater use of technology.

2019 did not prove to be a great year for the auto industry. But several players took on the market by launching affordable motorcycles with a sticker price of less than Rs 2 lakh (ex-showroom).

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Looking back at the Indian startup ecosystem in 2019 - YourStory

2019 In Review: Key Milestones That Indian Startup Ecosystem Achieved This Year – Inc42 Media

Of SIDBI-sanctioned INR 3123.20 Cr to 47 AIFs under FFS, only INR 695 Cr has been released to startups so far

Angel tax abrogation to the most investments made, 2019 is a landmark year for the ecosystem

EV among the most sensitised vertical, as 6 states implemented EV policies and Centre FAME II

This article is part of Inc42s special year-end series 2019 In Review in which we will refresh your memory on the major milestones for Indian startups this year such as the major funding deals, their impact on various stakeholders from entrepreneurs, to venture funds and VC investors. Find more stories from this serieshere.

Indian tech startups raised the largest amount of funding, this year, according to the upcoming Indian Tech Startup Funding Report 2019 by Datalabs by Inc42 . The year 2019 has surpassed 2018 stats in many aspects, with many new milestones and achievements.

In 2018, if the Indian tech startups had raised $11 Bn in funding across 743 deals with more than 637 Indian startups raising funding, in 2019, 660 unique startups raised a whopping $13.16 Bn funding through 800 deals. This is comparable to 2017, numbers. The record though still held by 2016, when 1,002 deals were recorded across the year. Despite a good start to the year, 2019 was not able to clear those milestones.

In contrast to 2018, when according to Inc42 DataLabs, 10 startups entered the unicorn club, only seven Indian tech startups have turned unicorns, this year. While this could also be a sign of Indian tech startup ecosystem stepping into 2.0 with more stability and maturity, analysing the growth curve and potential soonicorns, DataLabs also predicts that by 2025, India will have over 100 unicorns.

Launched in 2016, Startup India has sensitised the Indian ecosystem about entrepreneurship, innovation and the business value, startups bring in to the country. While most of the states have now dedicated startup policies, the central governments flagship Startup India programme registered a parabolic growth instead of an exponential one. However, it crossed plenty of milestones in 2019.

Interestingly, out of INR 10K Cr Fund of Funds for Startups (FFS) committed to disburse by 2025, only INR 695.94 Cr has been disbursed to the startups. The government of India doesnt directly invest in the startups but through Alternate Investment Funds. The investment made by the government varies from 20% to 30% of their funds. The catalysed fund thats been invested in startups currently stands at INR 2,669.83 Cr.

In 2018, 541 recognised startups were registered on GeM with over 281 products being published. The total startups registered on GeM is currently 2,263.

Policy-wise, 2019 has been a landmark year for Indian startups, as the finance minister in July, this year announced the angel tax abrogation for Startup India-recognised startups completely. FM Nirmala Sitharaman also stated that the decision will be equally applicable for startups which have already been notified.

This year, while the government passed laws to prohibit e-cigarettes completely, it also implemented new national policies on software products as well as electronics with little change to the previous ones.

Among the other major milestones for the startup ecosystem, the developments in the EV industry have been promising. According to FAME India stats, around 28K vehicles were sold out under the FAME subsidy this year. This includes Phase I as well as Phase II of the FAME scheme.

This year, we saw the implementation of Phase II of FAME India scheme after Phase I extension expired on March 31, 2019. With a budget allocation of INR 10K Cr, the Phase II subsidy scheme will be active for three years and will mainly focus on supporting electrification of public & shared transportation.

The scheme aims to support through incentives about 7000 e-buses, 5 lakh e-3 wheelers, 55000 e-4 wheelers passenger cars and 10 lakh electric two-wheelers.

In addition, a budget provision of INR 1000 Cr has been made for setting up of charging infrastructure under the Scheme and Department of Heavy Industry had issued an Expression of Interest (EoI) inviting proposals for the establishment of 1000 charging stations under this phase of the Scheme.

According to the official updates, out of about 500 charging stations sanctioned under Phase-I of FAME-India Scheme about 230 charging stations have been installed. PSU EESL has already deployed 65 public charging stations for EVs in the country. EESL is also tasked to deploy around 300 AC and 170 DC captive chargers across government offices in the country.

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2019 In Review: Key Milestones That Indian Startup Ecosystem Achieved This Year - Inc42 Media

Vivo, OPPO and Xiaomi Partner to Bring New Wireless File Transfer System to Global Consumers – PRNewswire

Vivo, OPPO and Xiaomi have established the "Peer-to-Peer Transmission Alliance" to provide users with an unparalleled file transfer experience. The new wireless file transfer system will allow consumers of these three brands to easily transfer files between their mobile devices without the need for any third-party applications or network data, supporting a wide range of files, including photos, videos, music, documents and more. The move is also in anticipation of 5G adoption, where the average file sizes are expected to significantly increase with the availability of varied and richer content.

"Vivo, OPPO and Xiaomi all share a strong user base, and such partnership will benefit even more consumers globally. For vivo,this partnership reinforces our commitment to bringing a fast, secure, first-in-class mobile experience by making it even easier for our users to share files with their friends wirelessly. We will continue to bring more strategic partnerships like this for our users across the globe," said Spark Ni, Senior Vice President of vivo.

Instant and stable connection with low power consumption

The wireless file transfer system provides a streamlined mobile experience which does not require internet connection. It uses Bluetooth for fast pairing and WiFi P2P (Peer to Peer) technology for the data transfer, bringing together an instant, stable and high-speed connection between devices, as well as low power consumption. This technology delivers an average transfer speed of 20MB/s. Also, the WiFi P2P technology does not interrupt the WiFi connection, meaning users remain connected and can continue their activities on the device during the file transfer.

Users just need to turn on their WiFi and Bluetooth, or turn on the function under "menu", then select the files that they wish to share. If the other party also has the function turned on, an icon will pop-up to notify the user. Once confirmed, the selected files will be transferred.

Customer-first approach to drive healthy industry development

The Peer-to-Peer Transmission Alliance is a collective commitment between vivo, OPPO and Xiaomi to drive the next generation of mobile experience. Together, the three brands will continue to openly collaborate to deliver new technological breakthroughs. The Alliance is also looking forward to welcoming more brands to participate and expand the ecosystem in the future.


This feature will be gradually rolled out on new vivo products in different markets from February 2020.

About vivo

Vivo is a leading global technology company committed to creating trendsetting smart mobile products and services. vivo is devoted to forming a vibrant mobile internet ecosystem, and currently owns and operates an extensivenetwork of research operations, with R&D centres in San Diego, Shenzhen, Nanjing, Beijing, Hangzhou and Taipei. These centres focus on the development of cutting-edge consumer technologies including 5G, AI, mobile photography and next-generation smartphone design. vivo has also set up 5 production bases around the world across China, South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Vivo has over two hundred million users enjoying its mobile products and services around the world. vivo features offline retail stores in over 1,000 cities worldwide.


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Vivo, OPPO and Xiaomi Partner to Bring New Wireless File Transfer System to Global Consumers - PRNewswire

Bringing start-ups and corporates together to foster maritime innovation – Riviera Maritime Media

Established in 2018 by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the National University of Singapores entrepreneurial arm, NUS Enterprise, Port Innovation Ecosystem Reimagined at BLOCK71 (PIER71) seeks to build a vibrant maritime entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem in Singapore.

This involves boosting innovation in the maritime and maritime-related industries by attracting talent, creating opportunities for exchanging knowledge and ideas, attracting investment into start-ups and accelerating ventures.

Central to this mission is the annual Smart Port Challenge, which seeks to match tech start-ups with maritime challenges and innovation opportunities raised by maritime corporates, and to facilitate investment in such start-ups by venture capital. Start-ups may be located anywhere in the world, while participating corporates are required to have a presence in Singapore. These corporates come from a range of maritime backgrounds, including owners such as TATA, NYK and CMA CGM, managers such as Wilhelmsen, Thome Group and OSM Maritime, and other players such as BP Maritime, Jurong Port, and more.

We gather a problem statement from maritime corporates, then transform this into an innovation opportunity which is published worldwide in order to gather the best solutions, explains Pier71 programme director Dr Mark Lim, adding that Pier71 acts as a neutral party to ensure the innovation opportunities are not overly specific to a particular corporates needs, but rather address the needs of the whole industry.

Twenty-four start-ups were selected from more than 200 applications and invited to take part in the PIER71 Accelerate programme, a five-week market and business model validation programme. Covering technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, robotics and wearables, these 24 start-ups were whittled down to a group of 10 who were invited to pitch to an audience of more than 300 investors, corporate partners, venture capitalists and maritime professionals.

The overall winner for the Smart Port Challenge 2019 was Dravam, a Singapore-based start-up that developed a fuel quality-monitoring solution that can be installed on a vessel to provide real-time detection of bunker quality issues. Current assessment of fuel quality such as drip sample testing can take up to a week, while Dravams system, based around multi-phase flow monitoring, incorporates both modelling and big data techniques to offer real-time assessment of bunker quality based on flow patterns. Dravam received a prize of S$10,000 (US$7,400).

The first runner up, US-based KoiReader Technologies, aims to address the labour-intensive process of checking and cross-referencing financial and declaration documentation. The start-up developed a machine-learning visual-recognition system that extracts unstructured textual data from images and translates them into usable structured data. This improves the accuracy of filling up logistics data for regulatory clearance and reduces the risks associated with misdeclared dangerous goods. KoiReader received a prize of S$5,000 (US$3,700).

The second runner up, Netherlands-based Teqplay, developed a context broker that provides information and tools to empower the shipping industry to make smarter and better-informed decisions when both planning and executing port calls and the wider maritime supply chain. They have developed a platform that crawls the web to collect, bundle and refine public data. Combining this data with machine learning and artificial intelligence creates a shared picture which results in better-informed decision-making, and ultimately faster and cheaper port calls. Teqplay received a S$3,000 (US$2,200) prize.

Judges also gave a special mention to Singapore-based Performance Rotors for developing a unique drone solution that overcomes the challenges of confined spaces and presents many new possibilities in maritime inspection.

All start-ups participating in the Smart Port Challenge are eligible to apply for grant funding of up to S$50,000 (US$37,000) from MPA, to embark on pilot projects or develop prototypes with the maritime companies, Dr Lim adds. Start-ups based outside Singapore are encouraged to build a presence here to further their technology development and immerse themselves in the ecosystem.

PIER71s activities are not limited to the Smart Port Challenge, Dr Lim says, adding Our goal is to establish Singapore as a vibrant maritime ecosystem that spearheads world-class innovation, and the smart port challenge is a vehicle for this.

We act as a catalyst for the acceleration of digital transformation within the maritime industry by bringing this innovation ecosystem together, fuelling it with an entrepreneurial spirit and providing access to education, talent, technology and funding.

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Bringing start-ups and corporates together to foster maritime innovation - Riviera Maritime Media

Fixing the rot in Indias financial ecosystem – The New Indian Express

The RBIs latest warning that the burden of bad loans in Indias banking system is likely to go up is a timely red flag not only to get our financial system back on an even keel, but also to use the new year to try and resuscitate the entire economy. The central bank has warned that despite non-performing assets (NPAs) contracting in 2019, they are set to rise to nearly 10% of all loans by next September.

The signs this could happen are there for all to see. Despite the government pumping in huge amounts into banks as capital, lending was just not happening. A slowing economy and a series of spectacular shadow bank collapses means risks are multiplying. At greater than usual risk are the real estate, power and telecom sectors, besides the huge amounts of money lent by banks to shadow banks. RBI is expected to soon take up with the Centre the issue of fresh provisioning of risky loans that may amount to as much as Rs 3.8 lakh crore. The loans to shadow banks or non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), as they are called in India, remain suspect as, according to multiple reports including by RBI and CIBIL, NBFCs remain under stress, with a recent portfolio shift to higher-risk unsecured credit.

This shows the need for setting right not only Indias formal banking sector comprising scheduled commercial banksboth state-run and privatebut also the larger financial ecosystem of NBFCs and cooperative banks. Neither RBI nor Central and state governments have any real idea of how deep the rot in the larger financial setup is. Fixing it will require hard decisions including shutting down or amalgamating many of these shadow banks and cooperative credit banks. At the same time, the government has to wake up to the fact that in bad times, everything may go from bad to worse. The need of the hour will remain putting right the basics of our economy on whose revival a lot depends, including greater credit offtake and improvement of the ability of firms and individuals to repay past loans.

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Fixing the rot in Indias financial ecosystem - The New Indian Express

Regional disparities in the Indian innovation ecosystem – Forbes India

Image: Shutterstock The 21st century has seen profound technological innovations with developments like automation and artificial intelligence (AI) making new forays into the industrial processes. With the world innovating at such a breakneck speed, no country wants to be left in the lurch. As this author has argued elsewhere (2018):

Most significantly, China has laid out a plan to become an innovative nation by 2020 and an international innovation leader by 2030 in its current Five-Year Plan.1 Even resource-dependent countries like Saudi Arabia are making a conscious move towards greater innovation.2

These countries are beginning to recognise the fact that building a competitive advantage based on factor endowments (cheap labour in the case of China and oil reserves for Saudi Arabia) cannot be sustained in the long run.

A transition to a knowledge-based economy with greater emphasis on innovation to drive economic growth and competitiveness is imperative to move out of the middle-income status. In fact, there is irrefutable evidence that the competitiveness of a nation, or the productivity with which it utilises its resources, is highly correlated to its level of innovation. A countrys competitiveness is defined by the World Economic Forum as the set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country. Increased productivity leads to growth, resulting in improved income levels which in turn translates into greater well-being.

When firms innovate, they derive prosperity by creating value-adding products through efficient utilisation of their resources. This ability to innovate increases their productivity and in turn, enhances their competitiveness. So, innovation should be considered as the basis for creating prosperity.

Recognising the importance of innovation in enhancing the competitiveness of nations, the Global Innovation Index (GII) was constructed by researchers at Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to provide detailed metrics about the innovation performance of 126 countries. These nations represent 90.8% of the worlds population and 96.3% of global GDP. Its 80 indicators explore a broad vision of innovation, including political environment, education, infrastructure and business sophistication.6

The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) published by the World Economic Forum, on the other hand, ranks countries based on 12 pillars of competitiveness including infrastructure, ICT adoption, macroeconomic stability, skills, product market, labour market, financial system, market size, business dynamism and innovation capability, to mention a few. It emphasises the role of human capital, innovation, resilience and agility as not only drivers but also defining features of economic success.7

Figure 1 shows the link between competitiveness and innovation at the global level using the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) and the Global Innovation Index (GII) scores of over 120 nations. The coefficient of determination between the two turns out to be a high 0.88.

The first half of this article concentrates on an assessment of Indias performance in the Global Innovation and Competitiveness Indices, through comparison with other countries. The subsequent sections reflect on the innovation landscape in India across sectors and regions, finally culminating with some policy recommendations that can help augment innovation and herald economic prosperity.

The Innovation Environment in IndiaIndias performance on the innovation front has not been historically promising, as revealed by the trends in the Global Innovation Index (GII). In GII 2018, the country ranked 57 out of a total of 126 countries. Figure 2 shows the performance of the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia. India, China and South Africa between 2013 and 2018. It is quite apparent that India has been the worst-performing nation of the group for a large part of the period and has only managed to better Brazil recently. In fact, until 2015, Indias scores fell quite drastically, which explains why its recent scores are hardly different from those in 2013.

As far as the number of researchers is concerned, India presents a worrisome trend as well. The country had about 216 researchers per million people in 2015 while the world average had already crossed 1277 in 2010. At the other extreme, countries like Israel had over 8255 researchers per million. Thus, the Indian innovation ecosystem is at a very nascent stage.

However, in such a vast landscape, it would be a mistake to make sweeping generalisations. India did achieve excellence in sectors like the pharmaceuticals, automobiles and Information Technology (IT). More than half of the business R&D expenditure is distributed across just these three industries. These are also the fastest-growing sectors in India, making significant forays into the world market.

Innovation at the Sub-National LevelJust as the innovation ecosystem in India varies across sectors, Indian states present similar disparities. Across the globe, there are some regions which have been more creative and innovative than the others. The key is to identify factors that enable innovation and to then leverage them to build regional competencies and drive competitiveness.

One of the common ways to assess the innovation ecosystem across regions is through the number of patents filed. Using patent filings as a proxy for innovation suffers from limitations. Whenever patents are filed by businesses, they are done from the location of the company headquarters instead of the place of innovation. Hence the number of patents cannot capture the full extent of innovation taking place in a country. Nevertheless, despite all its imperfections, it is one of the best proxies for innovation.

Based on data from the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DIPP), it can be concluded that patent filings are highly concentrated around southern and western India with Delhi being the only outlier. The latter has the highest number of patent filings per lakh of population followed by Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. This is because the major Indian cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad which are the leaders in innovation are located in these states.

The rest of India seems to be seriously lacking. In absolute terms, while Maharashtra filed about 3600 patents in 2016-17, Uttar Pradesh, a state that dominates the former in terms of population, filed merely 637 patents. Surely, such high levels of disparities cannot be attributed to factors like skewed location of company headquarters. States like Uttar Pradesh are simply unable to provide enabling conditions for greater innovation. Be it human capital, policy, infrastructure or funding the drivers of innovation are weak across most Indian states.

One of the most basic conditions that sets the wheels of innovation in motion is the availability of human capital. Silicon Valley, for instance, stands out because of the presence of world-class research universities like Stanford and the University of California Berkeley in its vicinity. Similarly, in India, innovation gravitates towards states that manage to produce a healthy supply of human capital.

To assess the performance of Indian states on human capital, an aggregate of a set of three indicators is taken: number of students in engineering and technology per lakh of population, number of full-time researchers per lakh of population and the pupil-teacher ratio in higher education.

Based on this measure, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Telangana and Karnataka form the top five states with respect to human capital. Apart from Maharashtra, these states file the highest number of patents as well. Once regions have an adequate supply of human capital, the next inevitable enabler to drive innovation is the provision of commensurate infrastructure.

Figure 5 puts this in perspective. It shows the number of research and development labs set up across states as of 2018. This includes both government-funded and privately-funded labs. The typical southern and western concentration is evident from the figure. With greater availability of human capital and prevalence of research labs, i.e. greater investment in research, innovation is bound to concentrate around these regions.

Incidentally, the top three Chinese provinces registering the highest number of patent applications Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang account for about half of the countrys patent applications. Likewise, the top three Indian states by number of patent application Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka account for more than 56% of the countrys patent applications.

Therefore, regional disparities in innovative activity experienced by India seem to be a general trend in emerging economies around the world. In contrast, the geographical spread of patenting activity spans more regions in developed economic blocs like the US and EU.

Coming to more specific concerns, there remain multiple challenges with the Indian education system. First, the education system is not industry-oriented and hence produces students with low employability, forcing industries to give them months of intensive training to improve their productive capabilities. Secondly, the focus of the Indian education system is on quantity the numbers of hours taught rather than on the quality of education imparted. As a result, the human capital produced by the states is hardly satisfactory to cater to global innovation standards. Even though India produces the highest number of engineering graduates in the world, a study by Aspiring Minds on the programming skills of Indian engineers found that only 1.4% of them could write functionally correct and efficient code.

In order to resolve this challenge, industry and academia need to work together to design syllabi and curricula to enhance the employability of graduates. Also, the focus of universities should be on the quality of education imparted by the professors rather than the time spent with students. This will improve the quality of human capital while ensuring the professors have more time to focus on their research.

A second challenge that needs to be considered pertains to industry-academia linkages. Indian universities tend to work in silos and their lack of synergy with industry results in research that has little commercial value. There is also a lack of clarity on ownership of intellectual property rights on innovations resulting from the collaboration between industry and academia. To encourage greater innovation, such issues need to be addressed.

Finally, states that are lagging in innovation need to draw inspiration and insights from their southern counterparts and begin working towards addressing their deficiencies. Only governments can enable conditions for greater innovation. Therefore, they need to provide determinants like adequate human capital, proper infrastructure and attractive opportunities for businesses within their regions. Only by working along these lines can India drive innovation and further prosperity.

[This article has been reproduced with permission from ISBInsight, the research publication of the Indian School of Business, India]

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Regional disparities in the Indian innovation ecosystem - Forbes India

The inside story of the AppStore, Salesforces Marc Benioff, and a gifted URL to Steve Jobs – 9to5Mac

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff came up with the idea of calling the companys software ecosystem AppStore after a meeting with Steve Jobs in 2003, years before the iPhone or Apples App Store launched. Benioff even registered the domain AppStore.com. Heres the inside story of how he came up with the idea and why he ended up gifting the domain to Steve Jobs.

TechCrunch shared the fun story about how Benioff came up with the name AppStore.com for Salesforce after getting advice from Steve Jobs back in 2003. The details were shared in Benioffs book that was released last fall,Trailblazer: The Power of Business as the Greatest Platform for Changeas well as in an interview with Salesforce co-founder and CTO Parker Harris.

the idea for the app store came out of a meeting with Steve Jobs three years before AppExchange would launch. Benioff, Harris and fellow co-founder Dave Moellenhoff took a trip to Cupertino in 2003 to meet with Jobs. At that meeting, the legendary CEO gave the trio some sage advice: to really grow and develop as a company, Salesforce needed to develop a cloud software ecosystem. While thats something thats a given for enterprise SaaS companies today, it was new to Benioff and his team in 2003.

Benioff found clarity for the implementation at dinner one night, he shared in his book:

One evening over dinner in San Francisco, I was struck by an irresistibly simple idea. What if any developer from anywhere in the world could create their own applications for the Salesforce platform? And what if we offered to store these apps in an online directory that allowed any Salesforce user to download them?

What name did he land on? AppStore.com and he registered the domain the next day. Funny enough though, customers liked the idea but werent into the name.

When Benioff talked to customers prior to the launch, while they liked the concept, they didnt like the name he had come up with for his online store. He eventually relented and launched in 2006 with the name AppExchange.com instead. Force.com would follow in 2007, giving programmers a full-fledged development platform to create applications, and then distribute them in AppExchange.

So AppStore.com went unused and then Benioff was floored when Jobs unveiled the App Store.

Meanwhile, AppStore.com sat dormant until 2008 when Benioff was invited back to Cupertino again for a big announcement around iPhone. As Benioff wrote, At the climactic moment, [Jobs] said [five] words that nearly floored me: I give you App Store.

Even though Apple didnt really need it since the App Store wasnt web-based, he thoughtfully signed over the domain to AppStore.com to Jobs that day, a kind gesture for his mentor who helped him evolving and growing Salesforce.

Benioff wrote that he and his executives actually gasped when they heard the name. Somehow, even after all that time had passed since that the original meeting, both companies had settled upon the same name. Only Salesforce had rejected it, leaving an opening for Benioff to give a gift to his mentor. He says that he went backstage after the keynote and signed over the domain to Jobs.

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The inside story of the AppStore, Salesforces Marc Benioff, and a gifted URL to Steve Jobs - 9to5Mac

2019 In Review: The Best Of Inc42 – Inc42 Media

This article is part of Inc42s special year-end series 2019 In Review in which we will refresh your memory on the major developments in the Indian startup ecosystem and their impact on various stakeholders from entrepreneurs to investors. You can read more stories from this series here.

For last years words belong to last years language and next years words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning TS Eliot

As the curtain falls on 2019, Inc42 is taking a look back at our coverage over the past 12 months to recall our achievements, milestones and growth so far. India has had an eventful year to say the least and we have already recapped some of these highlights in our 2019 in Review series. It gives us so much joy to share that Inc42 didnt just do what it does best but also took up new endeavors and aced them.

We have expanded this year. With some highly talented professionals joining our team, our coverage is now wider and deeper than ever.

This year we published more than 5,300 stories, which reached over 20 million people every month. Besides this, Inc42 organised 19 events bringing the ecosystem together at various times and with different agendas in particular, the BIGShift series took an expanded form with a six-city tour and Datalabs by Inc42 published over 19 reports and research articles on the ecosystem.

This year, we dug deeper to get more exclusive stories and original insights than ever before.

Exclusive: Quikr Lays Off Up To 2000 Employees In Aftermath Of Major ScamExclusive: Doodhwala Employees Also File FIR Against Founders Over Unpaid SalariesExclusive: Reliance Acquires Majority Stake In Deeptech Startup Tesseract

Exclusive: Behind Amazon Indias Food Delivery Platform Coming This DecemberExclusive: Vijay Shekhar Sharma Backs Up Admiration For Nurturing Green With Investment

Exclusive: Social Commerce Startup Wooplr Shuts Down As Merger Talks Fall Through

Exclusive: Government Says No Plan To Create 1 Lakh Digital Villages, Reveals RTI

Inc42 would also like to take this opportunity to give a shoutout to you. While we were busy garnering startup stories or brainstorming to hook you in with our events, our readers showered us with love and support.

We began the year with the Inc42 Startup Watchlist of the most promising startups in India. As was expected, many of these have gone on to clinch funding this year to validate our predictions.

As it is said old habits are hard to die, so Inc42 revived the much-loved Moneyball series in the middle of the year as VCs and investors opened up about the new India and their approach to investments.

Here are some of the best Moneyball stories from the year:

Moneyball: Lightspeeds Vaibhav Agrawal On Converting Startup Ideas Into Numbers

Moneyball: Aavishkaars Anurag Agrawal On Investing For Social Change

Moneyball: BV Naidu On Why StartupXseed Targets Low Investment Size And Prefers Faster Exits

Our signature What The Financial series went through a major revamp this year as well. Inc42 laid bare the financial performance of startups and analyzed what makes the company tick and where it is losing money. Heres our pick of the best:

[What The Financials] Heavy Discounts Helped Grofers Boost Revenue But Expenses Eat Up Growth

[What The Financials] Despite TikTok Success, ByteDance Earned Almost Nothing From India Business In FY19

[What The Financials] Olas Path To Profitability, IPO Blocked By Losses In Food, Vehicle Leasing[What The Financials] Dunzo Comes Undone With No Real Revenue And Towering Expenses

[What The Financials] PhonePe Continues To Burn Cash But Revenue Grows 4X

And while unicorns go through growth pains, soonicorns represent the next big hope for the Indian startup ecosystem. The Inc42 UpNext series captures the mood at soonicorns and their plotting to reach the unicorn club. Heres a selection:

Inc42 UpNext: Nazara Bets On Its Gaming Ecosystem To Get India To Pay To Play

Inc42 UpNext: Livspace Fuels Indias Appetite For Home, Interior Design With Omnichannel Play

Inc42 UpNext: UrbanClap On Designing AI Systems To Expand And Scale Up Sustainably

Inc42 UpNext: Can Zerodhas Million-Strong Investor Base Hold Its Digital Investment Fort?

Inc42 UpNext: How Capital Float Is Fighting SME Lending Battles On The Unicorn Path

It was a great year for Datalabs by Inc42 as the team of analysts, data engineers and researchers dug out the most insightful trends of the ecosystem across sectors and for various quarters. The Datalabs team also plays the role of the data enabler for the Inc42 editorial stories and many of our biggest stories this year would not have been possible without this invaluable support.

In addition, Datalabs gave us in-depth articles about the scope of Indian drone and aerospace startups in the well-received feature To Infinity And Beyond: Indias Aerospace Startups Are Starting To Blow Their Thrusters. It turned its attention to the foodtech industry amid protests from restaurants. Read The Dark Side Of Discounts: Lessons From Zomato Gold For Indias Food Startups to know more about the Datalabs insights.

Here are some interesting reads from the Datalabs vault this year:

Why Its Time To Take Notice Of Indias Evolving Food Service Market

Why Data Is Not Oil: Heres How Indias Data Localisation Norms Will Hurt The Economy

Japanese Investors In India Are Placing Safe Bets As They Chase The Billion-Dollar Dream

Are Investments In Indian Startups Slowing Down? Heres The Base Year Fallacy

Union Budget 2019: Sitharamans Fresh Ideas To Push Indias Towards A Digital Economy

See all stories from Datalabs by Inc42 here.

Finally, we produced stories that not only changed the narrative of the industry but also enabled players to raise important questions, debate over policy decisions, analyse market trends and perceive the changes as they happen.

Here are the top news stories from this year:

Exclusive: Amit Bhardwaj And The GainBitcoin Investor Saga Lands On President Kovinds Desk

The main accused in the massive GainBitcoin scam case, Amit Bhardwaj, in September, filed a separate application in the Supreme Court of India, seeking to deposit INR 2 Cr in lieu of Supreme Courts order of depositing INR 10 Cr within six month period, which was passed on April 3, 2019.

Sex Sells, So Why Not Sexual Wellness? Indias Startups On Emerging From The Shadows

Flipkart Video Originals Are Here: Has Flipkart Got The Timing Right?

Production houses such as Studio Next, Frames and Sikhya Productions will be bringing original content across languages and genres to Flipkart Video Originals, said Flipkart said in a press statement.

White Revolution 2.0: Dairy Tech Startups Rise On Indias Cow-Friendly Policies

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, India produces 160 Mn tonnes of milk in over 75 Mn dairy farms per year for a market that is worth around $30 Bn. The country is the second-largest milk producer after the US.

Searching For Superman

Indians, nowadays, are overtly dependent on apps, which take precious space on smartphones. However, Tapzo (one of Indias earlier super apps) founder Ankur Singla, in a blog post in 2017, said that almost all apps (except for the top 5-8 apps) see 60-80% uninstall rate within 90 days of users installing the app.

All That Glitters Is Not Gold: The Hard To Digest Economics Of Zomato, Swiggy & Co

The Economics Of Foodtech Part 2: The Math Behind Cloud Kitchens In India

One of Delhis first cloud kitchen restaurateurs and owner of 11 online kitchens across Delhi and Mumbai, Madhav Kasturia, told Inc41, We started four years ago with a high street restaurant but soon realised that paying INR 45K on just rent for the orders we were raking in was too high, so in a year we pivoted.

Indian Govt Requests Maximum Social Media Content Takedowns In The World

The which government censors online data the most report states that social media platforms and global technology companies have received as many as 77,620 takedown content requests from India in a span of nine years.

I Do: How Indian Couples Today Are Tying The Knot With Wedding Tech Startups

Exclusive: 100X.VC Funds Sanjay Mehta On Creating A Finishing School For Startup Founders

Think of us as a finishing school for founders who have no idea how to raise money. Our aim for this class is to get everyone 100% placement among VCs, said serial investor Sanjay Mehta.

Last but not least, INC42 expanded its repertoire of events this year! Inc42s events are not just for the glamour and glitz but for networking and connecting. Any recap of 2019 will remain incomplete if we do not mention the VC Dinner and BIGShift series.

VC Dinner, which was supported by HSBC, commenced on November 28, 2019, in Bengaluru. The event brought together the decision-makers of the investment world for interesting collaborations, global connections, cross learnings, and umpteen interesting stories.

The latest edition of BIGShift an initiative to enable, engage and empower startups in Indias Tier 2 cities saw more than 350 attendees and more than 30 pitches. This years BIGShift events were also attended by more than 300 startups in six cities Kochi, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Vizag, Chandigarh and Indore.

Here are some stories of startups discovered at the BIGShift events.

Discovered at Inc42 BIGShift: Vizag Edtech Startup Botclub Is Helping Kids Discover The Joy Of Science

Discovered At Inc42 BIGShift: Raipurs Minocular Takes The SaaS Route To Boost Mining Efficiency, Safety

Discovered At Inc42 BIGShift: Indores ClassMonitor Takes Students Back To Tradition With Hybrid Digital Learning

Other events by Inc42 that grabbed limelight this year include Founders Meetup 10 By Inc42; The Dialogue By Inc42 And Ikigai Law; Pulse42, Mumbai: The Pulse Of Tech and Huddle Kerala.

Like every year, Inc42 is wrapping up this year with the year-ender series 2019 in Review. For the year 2020, we are lining up our signature Startup Watchlist, which is coming next month, along with the usual dose of exclusive scoops, insights and data about the Indian startup ecosystem!

Have a great new year and all the best for 2020 and beyond from Team Inc42!


2019 In Review: The Best Of Inc42 - Inc42 Media

For 2020, Cross River Bank Says It Will Increase Collaboration to Grow New Jersey’s Fintech Ecosystem – njtechweekly.com

By Phil Goldfeder, Senior Vice President, Cross River Bank

Aspart of our end-of-year coverage this year, NJTechWeekly.com asked some NewJersey startups and established companies to look into their crystal balls andtell us whats ahead for them in 2020.

Cross RiverBank is a fintech and innovation leader headquartered in Fort Lee.For 2020, Cross River says it will emphasize collaboration among businesses,stakeholders and policymakers to help fintech innovation thrive in New Jersey.

In 2008, while most banks were slowto recover from the financial crisis and provide access to credit, Cross Riveropened its doors in Teaneck with a clean balance sheet and fresh capital todeploy to consumers in need. While ourgrowth in fintech and innovation has expanded our national footprint, ourcommitment to New Jersey today remains as strong as the day we opened our doors.

What began as a single branchhas evolved into a thriving institution and technology leader, with over 250employees and a bustling headquarters in Fort Lee. Thanks to a Grow NJ grant from the New JerseyEconomic Development Authority, we continued our expansion in Fort Lee byacquiring a 70,000-square-foot facility, further solidifying our roots in NewJersey. This new headquarters will not only house the current team members, butalso an anticipated 200 additional employees.

Working with New Jersey toattract talent and drive the state forward as a leader in technology has been anintegral part of our efforts to give back. In June, together with the NewJersey Tech Council, we hosted Growing NJs Fintech Ecosystem, a forum thatconvened elected officials, businesspeople, representatives of communityorganizations and New Jersey leaders to discuss the value the fintech industrybrings and how to broaden opportunities within the state.

Cross River is on the ground,working with regulators and policymakers at the federal and state levels toeducate and provide best practices for the banking and technology industrieshere. For us, its integral to ensure that businesses and government workhand-in-hand to provide consumers access to credit in a responsible way, justas when we started 11 years ago.

As a bank that has built itsroots in New Jersey, we have witnessed firsthand how the states support hasplayed an integral role in propelling the industry. We have demonstrated ourability to innovate while adhering to the strictest of regulations. Our focuson innovation earned us the Technology Company of the Year award from the NewJersey Tech Council, and our focus on the community earned us recognition as CorporateCitizen of the Year from NJBIZ.

Our work in 2019, coming out of astrong first decade of growth, is sure to continue in 2020. At the top of our agendain the coming year is increasing collaboration among businesses, stakeholdersand policymakers. As a company born in Teaneck, raised in Fort Lee and thrivingthanks to the help and partnership of our neighbors, we are excited about whatthe future holds for financial services and the state of New Jersey.

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As healthcare moves to the home, CISOs can’t be ‘Dr. No’ – MobiHealthNews

Healthcare is full of tensions. For security professionals at innovative health systems, one tension that can be hard to navigate is the pull between innovation and caution, a topic several experts discussed last month at the Healthcare Security Forum in Boston.

The job of the CISO is to say no, to look at risk, John Halamka, president of the Mayo Clinic Platform, said at the event. I had a CISO once tell me The most secure library never checks out any books.Well thats true, but that would be a somewhat useless library.

That perception of the security team, as the gatekeeper of progress, needs to be actively overcome, said Karl West, CISO and AVP at Intermountain Healthcare.

You as CISOs, you set a tone, he said. I was invited to speak to a group of CEOs of large healthcare groups in America earlier this year. [One thing they told me was] the 'Dr. No' issue is associated with who we are as part of our identity. We have to change that. If youve listened to us talk about consumerism, go away with this message: You can change that on your teams. Hold people accountable. [For] my employees goals every year, one is to be an enabler, to make this frictionless.

Sunita Patolia, team lead for human-centered design at Partners Healthcare Pivot Labs, agrees.

Language is so important, she said. Establishing the right kind of language in your organization, from the CEO to the front line. It has to stay the same: the message, the language and I think that gives people safety to experiment with different things because you all know youre working toward the same goal.

One goal shared by many innovative hospitals across the country is bringing more care out of the hospital and into the home a prospect that excites clinicians but is likely to worry security professionals, who have to concern themselves not only with data security, but also privacy, and not just with legal responsibilities but also ethical ones.

Although consumers want to take part in healthcare, we also have to educate them,Anahi Santiago, CISO at ChristianaCare, said. They want to bring in apps. They want to download the medical record to an app of their choosing, but we have a social and ethical responsibility to make sure that were educating them and ensuring them that the app they want to bring is protecting their information. Althoughonce that information leaves our ecosystem and ends up in their devices its technically, legally, not our issue, we still have an ethical responsibility to make sure were educating them and that they understand that there are risks.

Not only do CISOs need to be thinking about patient education, they need to make sure physicians are educated about security issues, at least enough to know how to spot potential issues and where to direct inquiries from patients.

Whats happening now is that a Medtronic vulnerability for the insulin pumps is showing up on the news and patients are coming to our physicians to say Hey, I have this device that I bought at home. I saw in this news article that theres a vulnerability. What should I do? Santiago said. And the physicians are not educated enough to respond, but they need to be. So as CISOs, we need to become educators to our clinicians and our patients and to our stakeholders to make sure that they understand some level of cybersecurity so we can bridge the gap of this new ecosystem of healthcare. So from the hospital to the home, cybersecurity is now a conversant topic across the ecosystem.

On a systemic side, theres some work underway to build cybersecurity into the medical education curriculum for residents, Santiago said. But given the speed at which the industry moves, that wont be a substitute for ongoing education and conversations.

We are going to have to change, West said. It will make us uncomfortable. So we are going to have to figure out how to do what has to be done.

I think we all agree that security is completely foundational, added Halamka. So as we now do more partnerships and we think of more platforms, security has to be at the very base of everything that you do. Understand what data youre exchanging, for what purpose, data governance, and even ethical uses of data.

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As healthcare moves to the home, CISOs can't be 'Dr. No' - MobiHealthNews

The story of why Marc Benioff gifted the AppStore.com domain to Steve Jobs – TechCrunch

In Marc Benioffs book, Trailblazer, he tells the tale of how Steve Jobs planted the seeds of the idea that would become the first enterprise app store, and how Benioff eventually paid Jobs back with the gift of the AppStore.com domain.

While Salesforce did truly help blaze a trail when it launched as an enterprise cloud service in 1999, it took that a step further in 2006 when it became the first SaaS company to distribute related services in an online store.

In an interview last year around Salesforces 20th anniversary, company CTO and co-founder Parker Harris told me that the idea for the app store came out of a meeting with Steve Jobs three years before AppExchange would launch. Benioff, Harris and fellow co-founder Dave Moellenhoff took a trip to Cupertino in 2003 to meet with Jobs. At that meeting, the legendary CEO gave the trio some sage advice: to really grow and develop as a company, Salesforce needed to develop a cloud software ecosystem. While thats something thats a given for enterprise SaaS companies today, it was new to Benioff and his team in 2003.

As Benioff tells it in his book, he asked Jobs to elucidate on what he meant by an application ecosystem. Jobs replied that how he implemented the idea was up to him. It took some time for that concept to bake, however. Benioff wrote that the notion of an app store eventually came to him as an epiphany at dinner one night a few years after that meeting. He says that he sketched out that original idea on a napkin while sitting in a restaurant:

One evening over dinner in San Francisco, I was struck by an irresistibly simple idea. What if any developer from anywhere in the world could create their own applications for the Salesforce platform? And what if we offered to store these apps in an online directory that allowed any Salesforce user to download them?

Whether it happened like that or not, the app store idea would eventually come to fruition, but it wasnt originally called the AppExchange, as it is today. Instead, Benioff says he liked the name AppStore.com so much that he had his lawyers register the domain the next day.

When Benioff talked to customers prior to the launch, while they liked the concept, they didnt like the name he had come up with for his online store. He eventually relented and launched in 2006 with the name AppExchange.com instead. Force.com would follow in 2007, giving programmers a full-fledged development platform to create applications, and then distribute them in AppExchange.

Meanwhile, AppStore.com sat dormant until 2008, when Benioff was invited back to Cupertino for a big announcement around iPhone. As Benioff wrote, At the climactic moment, [Jobs] said [five] words that nearly floored me: I give you App Store.

Benioff wrote that he and his executives actually gasped when they heard the name. Somehow, even after all that time had passed since that the original meeting, both companies had settled upon the same name. Except Salesforce had rejected it, leaving an opening for Benioff to give a gift to his mentor. He says that he went backstage after the keynote and signed over the domain to Jobs.

In the end, the idea of the web domain wasnt even all that important to Jobs in the context of an app store concept. After all, he put the App Store on every phone, and it wouldnt require a website to download apps. Perhaps thats why today the domain points to the iTunes store, and launches iTunes (or gives you the option of opening it).

Even the App Store page on Apple.com uses the sub-domain app-store today, but its still a good story of how a conversation between Jobs and Benioff would eventually have a profound impact on how enterprise software was delivered, and how Benioff was able to give something back to Jobs for that advice.


The story of why Marc Benioff gifted the AppStore.com domain to Steve Jobs - TechCrunch

NBCs Ben Collins to Chris Hayes: Trump Retweets Shady Accounts Because He Listens to Alternate Ecosystem Where Hes God Emperor – Mediaite

NBC News reporter Ben Collins spoke with MSNBC host Chris Hayes about President Donald Trumps habit of retweeting dubious accounts, arguing it was because he chooses to believe information from an ecosystem where he is a god emperor.

Sometimes the president will retweet an account and it has very few followers, sometimes its following zero people. In one case he retweeted the first tweet of an account. I thought to myself, how did he get there to finding out this person to retweet their first one. How does that work? Hayes asked on All In With Chris Hayes, with Collins noting a number of these accounts get taken down.

[Trumps] been on one recently, Collins said. Thats probably the best way to put it. When he is, he retweets these very shady accounts. The accounts all have very specific hyper-targeted messages.

What we really have to do is come to the reality that we are all in now, which is that there are two different realities for news now and he has ventured into the one that appeases him the most, Collins continued. There is an entire ecosystem that exists to push narratives that absolve him of every crime, absolve him of every wrongdoing that has ever existed.

Hes created a secondary ecosystem for himself that absolves him of everything. In these spaces where hes like a god emperor, Collins said. He cannot do wrong.

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NBCs Ben Collins to Chris Hayes: Trump Retweets Shady Accounts Because He Listens to Alternate Ecosystem Where Hes God Emperor - Mediaite

The moon and Earths ecosystem – OrissaPOST

The silver yellow full moon lights up the sky and makes me instantly happy. We have forgotten how the moon can change the landscape, because we have so many artificial lights. But, as the moon spins round the planet, it alters the Earths ecosystems, transforming the lives, food, shelters and reproduction cycles of hundreds of species.

Tides are the result of the gravitational pull of the moon. When the moon is full, or new, it is directly in line with Earth and the sun, exerting a strong pull on the ocean and causing stronger tides. When the moon is half-full, it is out of alignment with Earth and the sun, producing weak neap tides. The life cycle of coastal creatures depends on these tides. From March to August the sand is carpeted in California with small silvery grunion fish, which digs into the sand, mates on top of the holes and releases eggs. Ten days later, the eggs hatch and are swept out by the high tide to sea, the entire event choreographed by the moon. Some species of sea turtles wait for the full moons high tide to ride waves onto shore, and lay their eggs far up on the beach.

The marine annelid worms, Platynereis dumerilii, regulate their reproduction cycle according to the phases of the moon with amazing precision. They live on the sea bed. Under the full moon, the sex cells in adult worms mature; then, exactly 14 days later under the new moon and four hours after sunset, they float to the surface and synchronously release eggs and sperm. After spawning the worms die, a new generation begins to grow in the seabed.

Many ocean animals have biological clocks finely tuned to the cycles of the moon. Zooplankton is tiny animal that swim up from below the ocean depths toward the surface every night to feed on algae. They are preyed on by larger animals that hunt by sight so, as soon as it is dawn, zooplankton head back down. This rhythm is dictated by the sun. But, in the Arctic, where the winter sun cannot be seen for months, zooplankton also has an internal clock that is set to the moon. When the winter moon is full over the Arctic, it stays above the horizon for a handful of days and during this time, zooplankton dive to take cover from predators. But the moon also rises and setsand the zooplankton respond, rising and diving over the course of this cycle.

Oysters, which open their shells to eat and spawn, also fall under the moons influence. French researchers monitored how widely oysters opened their shells during new moons, and are more closed when the moon was full. In addition, the oysters could tell the difference between the first quarter moon and the third quarter moon, and were significantly more open (by nearly 20 per cent) at the latter.

Speckled sea lice burrow in the sand in the intertidal zone, which is covered by water at high tide, and dry when its low. They have an internal lunar clock, and are more active during the full and new moons, with their stronger currents, and more sedate during the weak neap tide.Sandhoppers, tiny crustaceans that live buried in sandy beaches, can tell the difference between sunlight and moonlight, and so are able to move in the right direction between the sea and the shore regardless of the time of day.

The marine bristle worm, Platynereis dumerilii, looks like an amber centipede and lives on algae. Bristle worm populations swim to the ocean surface just after the new moon, and dance in circles while mating. Any change in the moons light changes the spawning ritual.

Studies of fiddler crabs have shown that even when kept in the lab under constant light and temperature, the animals are still most active at the times that the tide should be out. This internal lunar clock, running in synchrony with the Moon helps animals anticipate tide movements; a skill that might give some creatures an edge. Galapagos marine iguanas, with the most accurate lunar clock, are more likely to survive tough times, presumably because they are best at reaching feeding spots on the beach first.

On a full moon night, each December, corals around the world, but most spectacularly off the coast of Australia, synchronize a massive release of egg and sperm packed together in round, small, pink buoyant bundles. While environmental factors, like temperature, salinity and food availability, help in triggering the event, researchers have found that levels of moonlight seem to play a major role: If the sky is too cloudy, and the moon obscured, the corals will often not spawn. Sometimes they delay until the next full moon. Researchers reveal that not only do corals have light-sensitive neurons tuned to the dim blue wavelengths of moonlight, they also have genes that change their activity level in sync with the waxing and waning moon, regulating reproduction. Palolo worms, which live in warm ocean waters worldwide, also release sperm and eggs together in a precisely timed explosion. They live on the seafloor, or in coral, and feed for most of their lives. But, for two days in October when the moon is full, their rear bodies turn into sacks of egg or sperm, break off from the rest of the worm and swim toward the surface and the light of the moon. Exactly one month later, they repeat this feat in even great numbers.For many animals the moon is essential to migration and navigation.

During certain phases of the moon, Japanese Sesarma crabs collectively scuttle across mountain slopes toward sea-flowing rivers, where they release their eggs and sperm. The annual migrations of Christmas Island crabs, which move in waves of crimson from forest to sea to mate and lay their eggs, also seems to be linked to moonlights shifting intensity.

For other species, the moons light is more important as a navigational cue. Migrating chum salmon swim more quickly, and at shallower, depths during a full moon, likely because they are using its light as a lodestar. Albatrosses and streaked shearwaters often fly more frequently, and for longer periods of time under a full moon, perhaps because they can see farther.

Baraus petrel is a seabird that breeds on the island of Runion in the Indian Ocean. The petrels time their pre- and post-breeding migrations by the length of the day, waiting until it reaches 12.5 hours before setting off. They always arrive at the breeding grounds on the full moon, suggesting that they use the moon to synchronise their migrations.

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Frontline Systems Launches Analytic Solver V2020: Tool for Analytics-Powered Decision Models in the Microsoft Ecosystem – PR Web

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INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. (PRWEB) January 02, 2020

Frontline Systems, developer of the Solver in desktop Microsoft Excel, has released Analytic Solver V2020, a SaaS (software as a service) cloud and desktop platform that offers Excel-savvy business analysts point-and-click tools to create predictive and prescriptive analytics models themselves, without needing expert data scientists or programmers.

Available now in Microsoft AppSource, Analytic Solver (simulation and optimization) and Analytic Solver Data Mining (forecasting and machine learning) are the only next-generation Office add-ins for analytics models available that work in a browser with Excel for the Web, as well as in desktop Excel for Windows and Macintosh. A companion Windows desktop-only version is also available for download from https://www.solver.com, for users in firms who havent yet upgraded to Office 365 subscription versions.

Creation and Deployment of Decision Models

Analytic Solver V2020 complements RASON V2020, Frontlines JavaScript-embedded analytics modeling language and REST API, that makes model deployment and management easy for users of Microsoft Azure, Dynamics 365, Office 365, and the Power Platform (Power BI for business intelligence, Power Apps for custom applications, and Power Automate for orchestrating business workflows).

Analytic Solver V2020 has been rewritten from the ground up using JavaScript, REST API, Azure and Office 365 technologies, but it inherits the full power and ease of use of Frontline Systems analytics software from over 25 years experience supporting business analysts using these methods in practice.

Other vendors are talking about democratizing analytics through easier to use tools, said Daniel Fylstra, Frontlines President and CEO, but Frontline has been delivering on this vision for years.

User Interface Familiar to Business Users

Analytic Solver V2020 offers a user interface with a Ribbon and drop-down menu choices, a Task Pane for model analysis and navigation, and the full range of Excel features for model building, whether its used in a browser, on Windows, or on Macintosh. All the elements of optimization, simulation/risk analysis, and data mining models are saved in the users Excel workbook, which can be transferred freely between cloud and desktop. Unlike other prescriptive analytics tools, models and their results are fully transparent as Excel spreadsheets, readily understood at all levels of management.

DMN-Compatible Business Rules and Decision Tables

Analytic Solver V2020 (the only Excel-based tool) and RASON V2020 both support creation and editing of business rules in decision tables in a form compatible with the DMN 1.2 open standard and its FEEL (Friendly Enough Expression Language) first published by the OMG (Object Management Group) in 2015, and now a widely used alternative to proprietary business rules languages. Unlike other business rule systems where analytics is only a recent addition, Analytic Solver and RASON were designed from the ground up to use the full power of predictive and prescriptive analytics with business rules, to enable companies to implement analytics-powered decision management with far less time, risk and cost.

Optimization and Simulation/Risk Analysis Enhancements

Analytic Solver V2020 also features speed and functionality enhancements for analytics, even compared to Analytic Solver V2019 which is just six months old. Its built-in LP/Quadratic Solver, used for linear, quadratic (LP/QP) and mixed-integer (MIP) optimization models, is significantly faster and exploits all available processor cores. Its ultra-fast Monte Carlo Simulation engine features 36 new or enhanced probability distribution, statistics and property functions. This release also features new, faster versions of the Gurobi Solver V9.0, with a new ability to solve non-convex quadratic models; the Xpress Solver V35, with a new Solution Refiner, and the Artelys Knitro Solver V12.1, with SOCP and MIP speedups.

Frontline Systems Inc. (https://www.solver.com) is the alternative to analytics complexity, helping business analysts and managers gain insights and make better decisions for an uncertain future, without the cost, delays and risk of big vendor tools. Its products integrate forecasting and data mining for predictive analytics, Monte Carlo simulation and risk analysis, and conventional and stochastic optimization for prescriptive analytics. Founded in 1987, Frontline is based in Incline Village, Nevada (775-831-0300).

Azure, Dynamics, Microsoft Office, Excel, Power BI, Power Apps and Power Automate are trademarks of Microsoft Corp. Gurobi is a trademark of Gurobi Optimization Inc. Xpress is a trademark of FICO Inc. Artelys Knitro is a trademark of Artelys Corp. Analytic Solver and RASON are registered trademarks of Frontline Systems, Inc.

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Frontline Systems Launches Analytic Solver V2020: Tool for Analytics-Powered Decision Models in the Microsoft Ecosystem - PR Web

Time to stop playing with acronyms and create vibrant eco system in North East – Economic Times

Christmas and the run up to it, with string of cultural festivals like Hornbill in Nagaland and Sangai in Manipur, is opportune time to be in the North East (NE). There was a very meaningful seminar by Assam Rifles on Act East policy at Imphal. Unlike earlier deliberations, innovation of hosting it in city convention centre with large number of academia and student invitees was very welcome. For some, with abiding interest in region, having spent defining years of our career there, it is time to repay part of debt of gratitude and reconnect. Every visit adds fresh perspectives. Unfortunately, during this outing, palpable fear, paranoia and mistrust seemed to be all pervasive. While it was interesting to meet officials from Delhi on their yearly sojourns, yet most do not realise that Yuletide is family and festivity time.

The famed Act East policy with so much of promise seems to be getting derailed even before the take-off. This initiative must be appraised on criteria like intent (mind set), enabling environment, bandwidth (capacity), road map, feedback and accountability. Intent was more than reiterated, with repackaging of Think East policy into Act East in 2014. It is pertinent to highlight that policy, first promulgated in 1991 by Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, was carried forward for 23 years by regimes of Deve Gowda, I K Gujral, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. The policy with much hype has been re-packaged yet again, Act East 2.0, as extension of SAGAR and Neighbourhood First articulations. With East Asian economies galloping away and SAARC blocked, Act East is undoubtably the most promising instrument in our foreign policy. To put it bluntly, three decades down the NE lane, with stalled Kaladan project and yet to take off Trilateral highway, we have really nothing to show.

The enabling environment, prima-facie seemed right for operationalisation of policy with entire NE, politically aligned with central government. The only stumbling block is resolution of Naga problem, which has the potential of unleashing domino effect, catalysing possible resolution of other low-order insurgencies, specially in Manipur. Coupled with this is the inescapable need for dismantling all pervasive extortion economy, which everyone accepts as the stark reality. Euphoria generated on impending Naga peace accord seems to have evaporated. There are reports that some insurgent leaders have crossed over to establish sanctuaries across borders and even taken refuge in China. Revocation of Article 370 has stoked suspicion on probability of similar fate for protective clauses like Article 371. Notwithstanding repeated assurances, mistrust has been reinforced by recent move to shift citizenship cut off in Assam from 1971 to 2014, disregarding Assam accord. It is clear that government is currently on back foot in perception battle.

On hind sight, it appears that sequencing of priorities has gone awry. Would it have been better to first resolve Naga problem, described as low hanging fruit, after Framework agreement in 2014 to kickstart Act East? In any case, citizenship issues could have been deferred, giving priority to economic agenda. Is it becoming case of stoking too many fires concurrently? It is earnestly hoped that government can reassure people and douse these fires as we cant afford to miss this opportunity. It is rather unfortunate that despite meticulous preparations, specially by Japanese, (their preparatory delegation was at Imphal), Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had to call off his visit to Guwahati and Imphal.

NE experts ensconced in Lutyens need to abide with seminal wisdom across Brahmaputra, it is- Lahe-Lahe (slow and slower), yes one can make hurry but only slowly. The second reality is that it is easy to get central fund seeking compliant political leaders to switch sides but with their very poor credibility, it is no guarantee of people being on board. Realistically, saffron NE, as yet, is only imaginative cartographic construct. It is also rather unfortunate that relevant lesson of language and culture overriding religion, as evidenced in liberation of Bangladesh, seems to have been forgotten. Across Siliguri corridor, ethnicity and language take precedence over religion. The main bone of contention is between Assamese and Bengali speaking populace cutting across religious divide. Consequently, two adjoining valleys of Barak and Brahmaputra have diametrically opposite reactions to influx of migrants. Chakma refugees, besides Mizoram and Tripura, are unwelcome even in Arunachal, despite religious affinity. Unique form of land holding laws with ownership vesting in tribal and village councils, further exacerbate the problem.

Despite high literacy rate, the region has abysmal record in skill building as education is skewed in favour of non-vocational streams. It is common to find PhDs, albeit in Theology, funded by foreign Baptist institutions. Functional rungs of economy are effectively serviced by migrant labour Bangladeshis and Biharis. Migration has economic dimension propelled by skill deficit and local reluctance for blue collar jobs. Fed up with addicted, lazy and abusive men folk, many Sema women prefer Miya husbands spawning new Semiya tribe. The only silver lining, in current impasse is another opportunity to review proposed plans and consider inclusive people-centric, bottom-up approach. Empirical study by Prof Gurudas Das of Silchar University questions financial viability of much-touted transportation projects. DONER needs to shed patronising donor attitude and shift focus from road-connectivity-based strategy to focus on holistic livelihood- oriented skill building, entrepreneurship and creating vibrant local eco system. In this game of repackaging and tokenism, replete with new acronyms, it is time to realise that it is- Now or never North East.

The writer is former ArmyCommander, Western Command

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Time to stop playing with acronyms and create vibrant eco system in North East - Economic Times

What You Can Do to Build an Innovative Ecosystem – CMSWire

PHOTO:Christina Morillo // wocintechchat

Innovation and research are no longer restricted to laboratories and research centers. Today, new ideas and innovative approaches emerge every day from people working on customer-facing situations and dealing with real-life issues. It is therefore essential to not only collect these ideas, but to encourage and reward them as well.

Companies such as Apple, Google, Samsung, 3M, Virgin Group, Nokia and Procter & Gamble have brought about significant changes in the nature of innovation itself. For these top performers, the winning equation is unassailable: Innovation equals growth. Innovation has evolved and taken many different forms over the last 50 years. The famous, patented 3M post-it was one such innovation. Since its invention, 3M has given creative time off to its employees, a concept many companies have embraced in recognition of the need to take a break in order to invent or re-invent an idea.

As Thomas Kuczmaski puts it,

There are inventors and there are innovators. One is creating a product with the dream of success. The other brings a product to market knowing with certainty that there is a need to be met. Understanding the difference and acting on it can provide an important stimulus for the economy in the challenging years ahead

The profligate and competitive society we live in means the ability to dictate changes and transformation provides a competitive advantage. Managing innovation and creativity is the key to this ability. Any organization that has resolved to tap the innovation potential of its employee base is halfway towards re-inventing or potentially producing some truly exceptional solutions.

Though many theories discuss organizational innovation, below are five simple steps to building an innovative ecosystem within the workplace. These strategies could be categorized into resource-based, organizational strategies as each of these elements includes resources as well as management strategies to encourage and inculcate innovation in employees, such that the entire organization works as an innovation platform, generating and capturing new ideas.

Generate an environment where creative ideas flourish, not just in R&D but throughout the organization, at every level. Consumers and frontline staff are in the best position to know what is needed and the ubiquitous availability of technology is creating innovation ecosystems out of the control of large corporations. Transformational leadership rebuilds traditional organizations to create innovative organizational climates, encouraging the creativity and innovation of its employees. Methods to create such an environment could be as simple as introducing dual career ladders, mentoring programs, technical conferences, jam and think sessions, brainstorming workshops, webinars and brown bags, and think tank events. All of these could be characterized as innovation events or workshops organized for the sole purpose of collaborating and generating ideas.

Related Article: Don't Wait for the Innovation Lottery: A Deliberate Approach to Ideation

Provide an opportunity to prove the idea and surface the innovation to those who can make the change. Research has found that creative people demonstrate high performances under personal autonomy. It is important to create this opportunity by providing autonomy to employees to process their thoughts and present their ideas. Some companies have instituted "Think Fridays," an excellent example of making space for creation.

Connect the innovator to the sponsors and the implementers. Fast connections between senior leadership and grassroots have proven to be the most important enabler for an innovative organization. Collaboration across the lines of hierarchy is one of the key elements in capturing new ideas and taking action. Building networking into the culture sparks communication across the silos and encourages and inspires new ideas, with the right cultural mindsets in place.

Related Article: DevOps and the Culture of Inclusion

Encourage diversity of thought and remove limiting assumptions. All organizations need to dispel and discourage the belief that disenfranchised groups cannot innovate. All groups need to be included in decision making so they can demonstrate their ability. Lack of diversity leads to two limiting assumptions: The dominant group is superior and so everyone should be (think) like them. Because of this superiority, it should naturally have power over the others.

Some examples of limiting assumptions in information technology are:

Related Article: IT Needs to Face Its Isms

Focus on the goal and dont measure the performance. Measuring innovative performance is perhaps the best way to stifle it. Research has shown that evaluating the innovation performance of organizations primarily based on positive outcomes may stifle the risky experimentation necessary for progress in difficult and unpredictable environments. A very high percentage of nonprofit and government innovation occurs in spite of the odds. Pushing innovation success while disregarding prevailing organizational hurdles may create negative outcomes and stifle innovation performance.

As Alan Kay puts it, The best way to predict the future is to invent it. Inventions happen in a culture where innovation is encouraged through culture rather than institutionalized in a process. Technological advancement and rising competition in the industrial and service companies have made innovation central to competitiveness. Organizations particularly technologically-driven ones need to be more innovative and pioneering than before to lead, to grow, to compete and to endure. Commercial organizations need to be efficient to survive in the short-term and encourage innovation and experimentation to survive in the long-term. With the advent of social media and technological advancements, customers have changed from being passive consumers to consumers as active participants. Organizations that have encouraged an all-round culture of innovation have seen the simultaneous emergence of new capabilities from technologies, to skills, to global scale and new disruptive business models and of new ways in which innovation happens. There are many theories of encouraging innovation across organizations. However, taking specific factors and specific steps to create a culture of independent thinking is critical for greater creativity and novelty at the organizational level.

Geetika Tandon is a senior director at Booz Allen Hamilton, a management and technology consulting firm. She was born in Delhi, India, holds a Bachelors in architecture from Delhi University, a Masters in architecture from the University of Southern California and a Masters in computer science from the University of California Santa Barbara.

The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of her employer.

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What You Can Do to Build an Innovative Ecosystem - CMSWire