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Not to be left behind, the European companies too are forming a bee-line to the accelerator activity buzzing here. Last month, Bosch India, a German technology and engineering solutions company, launched its first accelerator programme for start-ups called DNA, for discover, nurture and align.

"Bosch India will partner and collaborate with start-ups that work on disruptive solutions in the areas of mobility solutions, smart manufacturing, smart cities, meditech, agritech and energy. It would also work with start-ups who could help build solutions in enabling technology areas such as IoT, deep learning, analytics, cloud, virtual reality and blockchain," said Manohar Esarapu, head of Bosch India's Start-Up Alliance programme.

In November 2015, UK-based accelerator Entrepreneurial Spark partnered with Delhi-based Viridian Ventures to launch ESpark-Viridian Accelerator to create programs for entrepreneurship development in which they plan to invest about $300 million. The same month saw French innovation agency Paris and Co tying up with two Indian incubators, Mumbai-based Venture Nursery and Noida's Nkube, while Numa, a French accelerator, partnered with Bangalore's co-working space Cobalt to launch an accelerator here, the second international Numa accelerator after Moscow.

"India has the third highest density of start-ups. Investors don't want to go to the primary market. It is always the developing market as opposed to the developed that is sought," says Naresh Narasimhan, CEO of Numa in Bengaluru. Numa has taken a 5% stake in each of the 11 start-ups accelerated under its six-month program.

A bumpy road

Despite the interest and the high number of accelerators and angel funds, it is not a smooth and easy ride for a hardware start-up. You can blur the lines between hardware and software (since software funding seems a bit easy) but at the end of the day, the accelerator or the investor must see a really good business plan and stand by it.

An evangelist for the hardware ecosystem in India, Sharad Sharma, former CEO of Yahoo! India R&D and current CEO of BrandSigma Inc. said, “Early-stage funding for all start-ups is currently tight [difficult] in India. Hardware start-ups are affected by an even larger extent because of this development,” he said.

And he should know, having made over two dozen start-up investments. “Kickstarter, Wishberry and other crowdfunding platforms are the way to go. VCs come in much later in the evolution of the venture but it is early stage investment that start-ups clamour for — that is lacking despite the number of accelerators and seed funding one reads about.”

 
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