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CIIE set to launch India’s first agribusiness accelerator – exclusive

India's Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) is expecting over 100 applications and will work with six of them alongside local VC firms.

India’s Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) is launching an agriculture-specific accelerator, the first dedicated accelerator in India, in May.

The organisation is expecting over 100 applications and will shortlist 20 of these to interview further before selecting six to accelerate and invest in.

CIIE is working with local associations including the National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM) and the Center of Innovation and Business Acceleration (CIBA) that will help train and support the teams.

The organisation is also working with local investment firms such as agri-focused venture capital firm Omnivore Partners, and impact investor Aspada Investments, part of George Soros’ Development Fund, which could mentor and potentially co-invest into some of the accelerated companies, according to Vipul Patel, senior manager: social impact.

“Though the opportunities of receiving growth-stage capital in food and agri-business sector in India has increased in recent years, the support for early0stage, pre-revenue stage and close to revenue start-ups continues to be limited,” he told Agri Investor, adding that CIIE has already accelerated three agriculture companies.

“With this accelerator, we will be able to scout, nurture, accelerate and invest in start-ups that are trying to address the existing gaps in this sector through product and process innovation. It will also provide a good pipeline of food and agribusiness start-ups for the later stage investors such a venture capital firms. Thus it will become a catalyst to the industry’s growth,” Patel added.

The incubator will ask for pitches from companies in the following agri sectors: farm mechanisation; sustainable inputs; agri processing technology and techniques; healthy/innovative food technology; farm fresh retail; supply chain technology; ICT for sustainable agriculture; precision farming and protected cultivation; soil, water and weather solutions; internet of things for agriculture.

CIIE has created a small fund to invest Rs3 million ($47,000; €44,000) into two start-ups.