The Karnataka Innovation and Technology Society, (KITS) and the Department of Agriculture, Govt. of Karnataka has announced a partnership with the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms or C-CAMP at the formal launch of Phase II of two of CCAMP-KTech flagship innovation programs, one in the agriculture domain and the other in the startup acceleration for scale-up of Karnataka’s rapidly growing biotech startup community.
Agri Grand Challenge II
India is still largely an agrarian economy. Agri & allied sectors contribute 18% percentage of GDP to Indian economy. But critical gaps remain. The GDP contribution has been stagnating in the last decade, farmer suicides are on the rise, climate change has drastically impacted crop productivity and thus farmer income, we lose 30-40% of our fruits and vegetables post-harvest. Cumulatively these factors indicate the immediate need for disruptive agri innovation to transform this sector.
C-CAMP K-tech Agri Centre of Excellence set up in 2018 is an effort in mitigating this. By nurturing cutting-edge agriculture solutions, it aims to usher in India’s next Agri revolution through scientific solutions for problems at the grassroots. One of its initiatives is a Grand Challenge call for science-based solutions to address specific problem statements across agri & allied sectors. These problems are selected through thorough deep-dive field immersion and vetted by a nationally & globally represented expert core committee convened by the CoE.
The first call in 2021 had selected four startups in its cohort of which two, Krishitantra and Ekosight have created national impact with their solutions for point-of-care testing of soil health. Krishitantra is implementing the Soil Health Card Scheme with the Ministry of Agriculture, Govt of India to digitize end-to-end soil collection and testing for farmers. Ekosight has deployed its IoT-enabled, PoC soil quality meter for improved farming decisions in 5 states, resulting in 30% savings on fertilizer inputs and 20% increase in farm yield.
On 1st Dec, at the Bengaluru Tech Summit 2023, Hon’ble Minister of IT, BT & Rural Development, Shri Priyank Kharge and Dr Ekroop Caur, Principal Secretary, Department of Electronics, IT & BT, Govt of Karnataka launched the Agri Grand Challenge II with problem statements relevant in plant pest and disease mitigation, post-harvest loss, cash crops processing and dairy farming domains.
At the launch, the Department of E, IT & BT, Govt of Karnataka said " This is an unparalleled opportunity for startups in these sectors to gain substantial support, funding, and expertise to take their innovations to the next level. With Agri Grand Challenge II, we're elevating our efforts expanding the scope to include agriculture and allied sectors like dairy farming. "
C-CAMP Director-CEO Dr Taslimarif Saiyed said, “Agri Grand Challenge I was a grand success when it came to addressing problems at the national scale. Agri Grand Challenge II goes into the next level by broadening the scope to agri plus allied sectors such as dairy farming. With support from Govt of Karnataka, we will provide investment funding of up to 50 lakhs INR and more importantly, help with field trials through our vast network in agricultural sciences ecosystem. I invite agritech startups across India to join this effort.”
Karnataka Startup Advancement Program K-SAP Phase II
C-CAMP with the support from the Department of IT, BT, and S&T, Govt of Karnataka has initiated the Karnataka Startup Advancement Program (K-SAP) BIO 50 for giving Karnataka based start-ups in the life sciences a global edge.
Kicked off in 2018 K-SAP BIO 50 is an integrated deep-dive mentorship program that provides technical and business handholding, entrepreneurial skill and knowledge development and access to networks to life-sciences startups at the early stage. The aim is to accelerate their idea-to-market trajectory through a customized roadmap to achieve faster traction and increase startup’s chances of success in Indian markets and beyond.
In Phase I of K-SAP, C-CAMP has accelerated 5 cohorts of 50 startups addressing challenges in domains of healthcare, agri science and agri-technology and environment at the interface of social systems. Nesa Medtech and Blackfrog are two shining success stories. Nesa has developed a treatment for symptomatic uterine fibroids in menstruating women minimally invasively by a patented and US FDA approved image guidance & navigation system. Blackfrog’s active cold chain system for vaccine delivery is deployed across 12 states including the NE and in talks with several LMICs.
Announcing the objective of Phase II, Dr Saiyed said, “In Phase II, C-CAMP will move towards scale up support of startups at the early and mid (venture-funded) stages through fast-tracking milestones and closing gaps in the last mile to market.”
December 6, 2023