“Startup Runway on GeM” [https://gem.gov.in/startup_runway], is an initiative for Startups certified by Department for Promotion of Industrial and Internal Trade [DPIIT], Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, to engage with Government buyers and explore opportunities in public procurement. GeM Startup Runway seeks to align certified Startups with Government procurement orders and contracts, to enable Startups in scaling operations from ideation to growth stage in minimal time, and spur hyper-local job-creation and wealth-generation, for achieving socially-inclusive economic growth .
Since public procurement accounts for as much as 10-15 percent of GDP in developed countries and more than 30 percent in developing countries, Government buyers are required to ensure high quality and reasonableness of price, and therefore rely on documentation to ensure their adherence to procurement guidelines and regulations . Government of India has relaxed norms in Public Procurement for Startups by exempting them from prior experience, prior turnover and Earnest Money Deposit [EMD] stipulations , subject to meeting of quality and technical specifications.
While, product comparison and price discovery are two major challenges for Government buyers in procuring innovative products from Startups, common constraints in public procurement such as lengthy sales cycle, complex processes and significant effort, adverse Government experience and revolving agency contacts act as detriment for Startups to partake in public procurement who are constantly challenged to earn recurring revenues, raise capital, boost valuation and find the right market fit .Startup Runway will enable Startups to conduct market trials with government buyers, seek time-bound feedback and gain realistic product, price comparison and market valuation from potential buyers and investors.
Certified Startups will register on GeM portal as a seller with their DPIIT number, provide basic description about the performance of their products/ services along with the Test Certificates of quality, their functional utility and specify potential user Ministry/ departments where these products can be used.
On Startup Runway, 12 key sub-sectors or areas namely; Artificial Intelligence [AI], Big Data and Analytics, Block Chain, Advanced Manufacturing and Robotics [Next Gen IoT, 3D Printing], Agtech, Fintech [IoT], Health and Life Sciences [Biopharma, Medtech, Digital Health], Cybersecurity, Cleantech, Edtech, Virtual/ Augmented Reality [Mobile and eSports], Adtech and Consumer Electronics, have been mapped to broadly classify Startups who are applying innovation and driving new areas of economic activities .
Relevant Ministries/ departments will be sensitised proactively through system generated messages/ alerts in Marketplace about availability of such innovative products on the portal. Potential buyers can evaluate these products/ services with respect to their utility, uniqueness with respect to design, process and concept, and provide feedback in a time-bound interval and manner. Innovative products with 3+ ratings on a rating scale of (1-5) from 3 or more buyers will be accepted for listing as a regular product/ service on GeM.
India has approximately 500 million Internet users and demographic characteristics of these users reveal that nearly 54 percent of users are more than 25 years of age with higher discretionary income and likely to transact more online, half of internet users reside in Tier-2 cities and small towns, and present new opportunities for e-commerce . Most importantly, women constitute 33 percent or 143 million Internet users who, research extensively online for apparel and accessories that are not available in their towns, have a high degree of digital influence in their product purchase cycle and control 44 percent of household spending in India .
At the recently concluded The Next Web Conference [https://thenextweb.com/] in Amsterdam, 6 countries were acknowledged for incorporating initiatives to promote Startups in Public Procurement, and Startup Runway from India was one among them. Presently, 1,862 Startups are registered on GeM and have received 7,697 orders worth Rs 275 crores.
GeM Startup Runway seeks to support technology development, spur research and innovation by ensuring a conducive policy environment for industrial diversification and value addition to commodities, and aligns with Government’s philosophy to turn Job-seekers into Job-creators. GeM Startup Runway will address goals and objectives under United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation .“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” ― Joseph Campbell
The author is indebted to Ms. S. Radha Chauhan, CEO GeM, Dr. Rajeev Kandpal, CFO and Additional CEO GeM, Shri S Suresh Kumar, Additional CEO GeM and dear GeM colleagues for their valuable guidance and inputs during the compilation of Project Startup Runway.Special thanks to Nishant Malhotra, Senior Manager, Startup India and my colleague Sparsh Agarwal for their rich inputs and kind support.
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