As part of the Generation UK-India Programme, Digital India is a two-week immersion into India’s technology and startup ecosystem, seeking to highlight collaboration opportunities in which young people from the UK and India can work together.
Digital India (30 September – 13 October) has been created for young people from the UK keenly interested in exploring the relationship between technology entrepreneurship, India, and their own career. It has featured visits and workshops at IIT Bombay, IIIT Bangalore and IIM Bangalore; visits to Indian tech companies like Myntra and Infosys; multi-nationals including Microsoft Ventures, Twitter and IBM as well as social enterprises like the mid-day meal provider Akshay Patra
Digital India is part of the Cultural Immersion Strand of the British Council Generation UK-India Programme which is delivered by IndoGenius. Generation UK-India is a new student mobility programme launched by the British Council in November 2014. Working with partners in the UK and India, the British Council aims to encourage up to 25,000 young people from the UK to gain professional and academic skills and experience in India over the next 5 years.
This programme will build on the successful Generation UK initiative in China and the UKIERI Study India programme and will align with the strategies of UK Government and universities to increase outward mobility among young people in the UK.
40 budding entrepreneurs from the UK have taken part in the Generation UK-India Digital India Programme. The participants spent time in Mumbai where they also visited Dharavi, the Bombay Stock Exchange and a village in rural Maharashtra. The group then moved on to Bangalore - the heart of India’s tech ecosystem.
Mei-kwei Barker, Director, British Council South India says, “Our Generation UK-India Programme has supported 500 participants in the first year, building on the success of the UKIERI Study India Programme, which over the past 4 years has supported over 1000 students undertake a placement in India, but this is just the beginning. We have the ambition to work with partners to support up to 25,000 students to come to India over the next 5 years to 2020 in order to future proof this most important UK-India bilateral relationship. India’s technology and innovation ecosystem is the ideal place for young entrepreneurs. In Bangalore, the participants have connected with many of the leading entrepreneurs driving India’s digital revolution and developed the knowledge and connections needed to learn from and collaborate within this growing environment.”
The keynote address was delivered by T V Mohandas Pai, Chairman, Manipal Global Education who spoke about the innovations and importance of disruptive technologies and how it is changing the future of India.
One of the participants, Marianne Caroline Hughes, Founder of a digital clothes label - The Button, says, "I can't believe how quickly I've been able to develop my business in just two short weeks. Whilst in Mumbai I was able to get my prototype 3D printed and in Bangalore the software coded! Thanks to the British Council and IndoGenius I’m meeting potential partners, suppliers and even clients."
Additional Information on the Digital India Programme
Over 7000 young people from across the UK applied for the Cultural Immersion Strand and more than 200 specifically for Digital India. The 40 entrepreneurs come from over 30 different UK universities and range in age from 19 to 42. More than 50% of the participants are 21-22 years old and about 90% aged 26 or below. 50% of participants have just completed their undergraduate degrees, while more than one third already has a startup they are seeking to scale.
These 40 entrepreneurs have helped collect insight on their specific objectives. It is most common for participants to be at the early ideation phase with their start-up, but there is representation across the start-up development life cycle with about five participants focused on scaling an existing start-up.
These start-ups hope to disrupt a wide variety of industries and sectors, the most common being education, e-commerce, healthcare, social media and data analytics. However there is truly a wide variety of ideas touching everything from heritage tourism to wearable technology. Of course networking is a key aim of all participants, but these participants also bring specific aims and objectives with them.
- Validation: The UK entrepreneurs are looking to test key assumptions behind their start-up ideas including applicability to the Indian context.
- Hiring: Many are keen to collaborate with India’s technical talent - particularly outsourcing development and other key services to teams in India.
- Investing: Many view India as a key market for their business and hope to enter the Indian market to gain users for their product or service.
When asked whom they were most hoping to meet, the most common answers were start-up mentors, young entrepreneurs, outsourcing contacts, market entry experts and potential investors.
In fact, 30 of 40 participants indicated they would be in a position to pitch their startup to investors and other mentors by the end of the programme. Half a dozen will be picked to do just that to Indian tech-industry leaders like Mohandas Pai at an event held in the offices of Microsoft Ventures.