India - The start-up powerhouse

The numbers are impressive. In India - as of 2023 - there are around 100,000 state-recognized start-ups and 111 unicorns with a value of USD 340.80 billion. Over 21,500 new start-ups were founded in 2022 alone.

Most unicorns and innovative start-ups are located in the country's urban centers, particularly in Bengaluru (state of Karnataka), the capital region around New Delhi and Mumbai (state of Maharashtra).

India is now the third largest start-up cluster in the world. With economic growth of around 6.5 percent per year, the country is well on its way to overtaking Germany and Japan economically in the next two years.

One of the prerequisites for this boom is the Indian government's major digitization efforts, including in rural areas. The country is expected to have more than 900 million active internet users in 2025 - a significant leap forward compared to the figures for 2022, when India "only" had around 759 million internet users. However, this "digital leap" is not limited to the metropolitan areas, as around 56% of all new internet users will then come from India's rural regions.


The spread of smartphones is playing a decisive role in this digital expansion. By 2025, India will have over 1.1 billion smartphone users, making it one of the largest smartphone markets in the world.

It is therefore only logical that most Indian start-ups are founded in the e-commerce or FinTech sectors.

On the other hand, India has built one of the largest agricultural research systems in the world to specifically promote innovation in agriculture: the National Agricultural Research System (NARS), which includes the institutes of the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) and the State Agricultural Universities (SAU). The mission of the ICAR incubators is to provide services and technical support to agritech start-ups and entrepreneurs. To date, 818 agritech start-ups have been supported. The additional five competence centers and 24 agribusiness incubators have spawned another 779 start-ups in the fields of agriculture and agritech.

Agro start-ups such as WaycoolFood, Crofarm or Agrostar generate annual sales in the double-digit billions and contribute to a booming economy.



India also showed foresight with the establishment of the world's first Ministry of Biotechnology in 1986. The then Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi recognized the rapid pace at which life sciences would develop worldwide: "If we do not take a leap forward, we will not be able to keep up with the rest of the world".

India is now regarded as the "pharmacy of the world" and is the world's largest producer of low-cost generics. The country supplies more than 50 % of Africa's demand for generics and 40 % of the demand for generics in the USA. India also supplies about 60% of the world's vaccine needs and is a leading supplier of DPT, BCG and measles vaccines. 70% of the WHO's vaccines (according to the Essential Vaccine Plan) come from India.