Editorial Team

Indian Institute of Technology Madras has launched a ‘Centre for Research on Start-Ups and Risk Financing’ (CREST) to provide academic and thought leadership in innovation, entrepreneurship and risk capital.

It would also create a unique world-class data repository on Indian start-ups and ventures to address a major hurdle for engaging in high-quality research. This information resource would be made accessible for researchers and policymakers that can result in top-tier publications

With risk capital investment in Indian technology start-ups touching $68 Billion (₹4,76,000 crore approx) in the period between 2011-20, academic research and thought leadership can play an important role in sustaining and furthering this growth in entrepreneurship. Insights and evidence from the rigorous academic research would support policy-making as well as increase the effectiveness of managerial and investment decision-making in entrepreneurship.

Prof. Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School

Delivering the Inaugural Keynote Lecture of CREST on Tuesday (22nd June 2021) on ‘Cultivating societal trust can unlock India’s Entrepreneurial Potential,’ Prof. Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School, said, “Entrepreneurs with great ideas in developing countries cannot rely on the usual trust-building foundations – law, regulatory oversight, and government projects, as they might in the developed world. Assuming the existence of these phantom factors predisposes ventures not to succeed at scale. Instead, smart entrepreneurs in these countries need a mindset shift, focusing not only on creating but also the conditions to create these.”

Further, Prof. Tarun Khanna said, “There is a need to build trust between Scientists and business leaders. Amazing technology is coming out of the labs but the condition to get the maximum out of such innovations is not there.”

The Vision of CREST include:

Ø  To be globally recognized as a leading centre of research engaged in scholarly research in the areas of creation, development, and financing of innovation, start-ups, and entrepreneurship

Ø  Cross country collaborative research, resulting in the use of unique data sets on start-ups and venture capital that increases the chances of breakthrough findings

Ø  Evidence synthesis on the start-up and innovation ecosystem to inform policymakers and practitioners

Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras

Delivering the Presidential Remarks of the event, Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, said, “These research initiatives we (IIT Madras) are creating, almost all of them, have very strong international collaborative connections. We are knitting together partnerships with leading groups across the world. We want to have strong flow of people and ideas. We will have the interactions in online mode till the pandemic gets over.”

The key mission of CREST would be to engage in scholarly research encompassing the areas of innovation, entrepreneurship, and risk capital. The data repository being developed on innovation, venturing and risk capital will create the infrastructure to carry out high-quality research. The creation of entrepreneurship specific language models will facilitate a better understanding of the entities in the ecosystem while facilitating the use of latest research in AI, ML to generate new insights.

Providing an overview of CREST, Prof. A. Thillai Rajan, Principal Investigator, CREST, IIT Madras, and Faculty, Department of Management Studies, IIT Madras, said, “The role of higher education institutions in the area of start-ups and entrepreneurship is four-fold. The first is the creation of intellectual property that can be commercialized through start-ups. The second is to train for entrepreneurship through various formal and unstructured programs. The third is to provide a nurturing environment for start-ups by setting up incubators and providing access to various facilities to young start-ups. The fourth is to generate insights through rigorous research that can inform and guide policy making and practice.”

Further, Prof. Thillai Rajan said, “While substantial progress has been achieved in the first three, much needs to be done on the fourth. CREST is a big step in that direction. The timing cannot be more apt. Start-ups have been playing a very critical role in different walks of life during the pandemic period. Therefore, a research centre that helps to enhance the success of start-ups through appropriate policy formulation or managerial decision making is even more relevant now than even before.”

Prof. P. Krishna Prasanna, Department of Management Studies, IIT Madras, Dr. R.K. Amit, Associate Professor, Department of Management Studies, IIT Madras, also spoke on the occasion.

A confluence of factors has resulted in India becoming one of the key centres globally for start-ups and innovation. Innovation, venturing, and entrepreneurship is getting increasing attention from policymakers. These three areas of economic activity are expected to play a key role in the journey to become a $5 Trillion economy apart from strengthening India’s position as an innovation country.

Because of these, there has been a fillip to start-up activity in India. Formulation of start-up policies, setting up of incubation centres, growth in investments and focus on entrepreneurship in academic curricula have led to an increase in the number of start-ups.

CREST would also push for use of evidence to guide policymaking. CREST would synthesize existing evidence as well as generate new evidence-based on unique data sets from organizations in the start-up ecosystem such as incubators, investor networks, government missions, and so on. Such grounded research can help to generate novel findings, that are likely to interest high impact journals

The Current Projects and Studies of CREST include:

Ø  Book Project – Shifting Orbits: Decoding the trajectory of the Indian Start-up Ecosystem (Thillai Rajan A, IIT Madras, Srivardhini K. Jha, IIM Bangalore, Joffi Thomas, IIM Kozhikode, Rohan Chinchwadkar, IIT Bombay)

Ø  Research Studies–

o   Role and Effect of Corporate Venture Capital Investments: Evidence from Indian Corporations  (Arushi Gupta, IIT Madras)

o   Angel investors in India: Does the start-up stage matter? (A. Niroopa Rani, IIT Madras)

o   Performance of Start-up Incubators: Do host organizations matter? (Abhishek Gupta, IIT Madras)

o   Entrepreneurship at the Grass Roots: Challenges faced by Rural Women Entrepreneurs of Tamil Nadu (Aarthi Ramachandran, IIT Madras)

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