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AIT India 2023: Entrepreneurs build a bridge between Switzerland and India

04.12.2023 09:25, Rita Longobardi

The Academia-Industry Training (AIT) Camp India has selected ten researchers from Swiss universities who discovered the innovation’s potential in the Indian market. For some startups, including four from India, this training represented their inaugural foray into the dynamic Indian landscape. Bengaluru, the heart of India’s southern Karnataka state and a nucleus of high-tech industries, played host to their exploration.

In championing the aspirations of Swiss entrepreneurs, the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) has entrusted the execution of the AIT program to the Leading House in South Asia and Iran at ZHAW. This collaborative initiative is strengthened by partnerships with Venturelab and Swissnex India, the stalwart business embassy of Switzerland in India, renowned for its commitment to encouraging business networks with the highest professional standards.

Discovering the Indian landscape from day one

The journey kicked off with a detailed orientation on Monday, November 27, as the startups explored the full program in collaboration with Swissnex India. The day started with an enriching session by Speciale Investe, providing helpful advice on the intricacies of the Indian investment market. This was followed by a session on intellectual property (IP) strategy led by Ravi Bhola, a globally recognized patent attorney awarded as The World’s Leading Patent Professionals by IAM Patent 1000 for five consecutive years. Ravi illustrated the nuances of protecting innovation in the Indian landscape.

After lunch, the startups were divided into three groups based on their focus areas: sustainability, robotics, and MedTech. Each group took an industry-specific tour, visiting key hubs such as Infosys – a global leader in next-generation digital services, committed to being an environmentally sustainable organization, TBI – India’s first corporate hospital-based startup incubator and co-creation space for biomedical innovators, and Cynlr – a visual object intelligence platform that enables industrial robotic arms to see and manipulate any object in random unstructured environments. These visits provided an up-close understanding of India’s technological landscape and the potential for collaboration.

“AIT India is a cultural exchange, market discovery, and networking hub. For researchers experiencing the lab-to-business transition, it’s a challenging journey. Yet, no one comprehends the value of their work better than researchers themselves. Venturelab imparted business expertise and Swissnex connected us with India’s stakeholders and decision-makers. I discovered India as a special place where simplicity, honesty, and depth of emotions are valued in every context of life, including work. This experience changed my life in many ways,” said Michele Serra, CEO of Obios.

Day 2: Behind the scenes with industry giants

The second day was dedicated to deepening the startups’ understanding through company visits: Titan – India’s leading lifestyle company that established a major position in the jewellery, watches, and eyecare categories, and Remidio – an ophthalmological-certified medical device company. The startups engaged in interactive sessions, witnessing the fusion of product design and sustainable business models. Connect Ventures facilitated further interaction, connecting the entrepreneurs with key industry stakeholders. The day culminated in a networking event, providing a platform for startups to pitch their solutions to potential investors and partners.

“Many thanks to the ZHAW, Venturelab, and Swissnex team for this incredibly well-organized AIT India program. I’ve gained lots of interesting insights into my entrepreneurial potential and the promising horizons of international business!” said Donato Rubinetti, CEO of Ionix Innovations.

Exploring the Indian market dynamics

Wednesday started with a comprehensive session on the Indian market by Mr. Rakesh Mishra, guiding the startups through the complexities of the venturing landscape. The day continued with visits to WRI and Social Alpha, further enriching the startups’ business knowledge and expanding their network.

The week reached its peak on Thursday, with the Bengaluru Tech Summit, one of the biggest summits in Asia, a colossal gathering of 50,000 participants and 2,000 companies. The startups seized the opportunity to present their innovations, establishing connections with industry leaders, government representatives, and potential collaborators.

As the week concluded with 1:1 meetings and a visit to the Science Gallery, the startups found themselves at a juncture where newfound connections held the promise of future collaborations. After collecting interesting contacts and hundreds of business cards, a closing party provided a well-deserved moment of celebration.

“AIT provided a highly curated program for rapid market discovery and introductions to potential partners in India. The AIT team really understood the needs specifically for my startup and connected me with the most appropriate contacts, ” added Anish Kirtane, CEO of Enviro Helix.

A call to future explorers

Stay up to date with the next AIT and seize the opportunity to expand your horizons.

Learn more about the 10 Indian startups and entrepreneurs who participated in AIT India 2023

Enerdrape: Commercialising the world’s first prefabricated geothermal panel technology.

AeroSpec: Empowering businesses and governments to create a cleaner and healthier world through in-depth air pollution analysis.

REMA: REMA’s mission is to provide the world with access to cost-effective and high-quality green hydrogen.

NEOSENS: Tackling a global health concern: The unnecessary antibiotic treatment of 12% of all newborns in low and middle-income countries due to false sepsis diagnosis.

Openversum: Providing clean and safe drinking water where it is most needed.

RoBoa: Entering confined spaces to save the lives of disaster victims, and to inspect industrial plants – minimizing downtime and increasing operational safety.

Enviro Helix

Ionix Innovations

: Offering an efficient virtual testing procedure for the new development of dental implants.