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The ‘S factor’: The Startup20 engagement group in India’s G20 presidency

Garima Ujjainia ( )

India’s 18th presidency of G20 for 2023, with a narrative of “One Earth, One Family, One Future”, will focus on finding pragmatic solutions to global problems, and “the S factor” or the startups of India” will be the front runners in finding such solutions. 

Today, the Indian startup community is the third-largest in the world, with more than 84,000 registered startups working in healthcare, education, gaming, AR/VR, SDG, fintech, and agriculture, among other segments.

India has over 100 unicorns, of which 15% are led by female founders. 

Startups have become indispensable to measuring and driving the innovation streak of a society. Venturing into entrepreneurship is now a measure of skill and courage rather than a taboo. The startup culture has provided an agile response to market and societal needs.

As India leads the G20 presidency of 2023 under the vision of PM Narendra Modi—where, as he quotes, “India looks forward to a Presidency of healing, harmony, and hope.”—the ‘S factor’ of the Indian economy will be a perfect ingredient.

To harmonize this blend, the G20 India presidency initiated Startup20. Youngest among the 11 official engagement groups of G20, Startup20 aims to create a global narrative for supporting startups and enabling synergies between corporates, investors, innovation agencies, ecosystem enablers, and startups.

The group aims to provide a common platform for startups from G20 member countries to collaborate and develop actionable guidance for building enabler capacities, identifying funding gaps, enhancing employment opportunities, achieving SDG targets and climate resilience, and growing an inclusive ecosystem.

Engagement groups, independent of governments, comprising stakeholders of the international community, host meetings relevant to the G20 discussions.

Other established engagement groups are—Business Community (B20), Civil Society (C20), Labour Unions (L20), Scientists (S20), Startup20, Think Tanks (T20), Urban Cities (U20), Women (W20), and Youth (Y20). These groups aim to make contributions to the main communique by giving suggestions through deliberations. 

Coming back to Startup20. 

Startup20 has done two deliberations—Inception Meeting in Hyderabad (January 2023) and Sikkim Sabha in Gangtok (March 2023). These were focused on task forces namely—foundation, alliances, finance, inclusion, and sustainability.

Each task force is represented by a chair and co-chairs, who along with delegates, discuss and deliberate on the contours of the policy objectives, recommendations, policy actions, outcomes, and deliverables.

The Inception Meeting in Hyderabad was kicked off by Chintan Vaishnav, The Chair of Startup20, and Mission Director of Atal Innovation Mission, besides Amitabh Kant, The Sherpa G20.

The meeting was attended by over 200 delegates, including international delegates from G20 and invitee countries and prominent stakeholders of the Indian startup community. The two-day meeting was a success, with a representation of more than 25 countries, 40 speakers, and engagements of over 30 hours. 

Leaders from over 15 G20 countries met for the two-day Sikkim Sabha, the second meeting of the Startup20 group, inaugurated by Sikkim CM Prem Singh Tamang, Startup20 Chair, and other government officials.

As one of the epicentres of the startup community, Sikkim holds a unique place considering its tough geography and rich heritage. Sikkim Sabha forwarded the agenda finalised during the Inception Meeting.

The Sabha deliberations were organised as break-out groups across five sub-venues, with a task force group delegation, each ensuring diversity in terms of nationality, gender, and expertise.

The session conducted was in “The World Café” format that uses the cafe setting for participants to explore an issue by discussing it in small table groups. 

The next event of Startup20 will focus on finalising the policy communique after incorporating the discussions and deliberations from the past meetings.

Startup20 is an opportunity for India to position itself as ‘The Global Startup Hub’ among the Group of Twenty (G20). The ‘S factor’ will not limit to startups, but sherpa meetings, sustainability goals, alliance, cooperation, consensus, and a sense of oneness. It would also be towards innovation, entrepreneurship, and collaboration.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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