EU-India Innocenter: Leading European tech companies into the Indian market

As one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and the 3rd largest startup ecosystem, India provides a pool of promising collaboration opportunities for the European innovation ecosystem. 6 partners across Europe and India have brought their expertise and network together with the aim to help European companies to launch and expand their activities in India. The ambition was set out in the EU-funded Horizon2020 project “EU-India Innocenter”, launched in January 2021.

CIVITTA Lithuania is taking the lead as a coordinator of the project, ensuring the overall coordination and monitoring of project activities and the achievement of high-quality standards in the project’s execution.

The EU-India Innocenter provides tailored and personalised assistance to companies at different stages of their journey to India – from discovering business opportunities to creating a solid expansion plan and finding local customers and partners. The project connects companies to mentors, partners and other stakeholders that support their market entry. Also, to find the companies with the potential to scale to India, project partners devote immense efforts to scan, scout and engage the European companies across 4 main sectors: sustainability, HealthTech, Logistics & Mobility, Deep Tech. During the first half of the project, over 280 companies were introduced to the internationalisation to India opportunity.

64 companies have taken the challenge and attended the preparation training, aimed at introducing what constitutes a market opportunity and what to consider when building an international expansion strategy. During the Preparation training startups formulate assumptions about the Indian market. These assumptions, the company’s product portfolio and fit to the Indian market are then validated in the „Explore and Validate“ programme phase. For 31 startups participating in this phase, 180 matches were facilitated between Indian and European companies for technology transfer or co-creation; over 460 hours of workshops and mentoring were executed. The “Explore and Validate” phase enables startups to take further expansion decisions and potentially benefit from scaling services offered in the “Enter & Scale” phase. It offers a 12-week accelerator programme to help European startups with market entry to India. One of the main goals of the project is to support 20 companies in launching their business successfully in India.

Daniel Lewis from Awen Collective shares his experience in the project: “This programme is just brilliant as it's led by people who understand the markets and cultures in India. A must-do for European SMEs considering expansion in India or across the Asia Pacific.”

In November 2022,  the entire EU-India Innocenter team gathered to organise the first-ever in-country event in Bangalore, India. The team and startup founders had an amazing time meeting each other, mentors and partners in person after 2 long years of working remotely. The highlight of the programme in India was a Blue Carpet Night event, where European startups, participating in the project, presented their solutions to business partners, industry professionals, and government representatives from the EU and India. The focus was on how these technologies can nurture India in its growth across specific sectors.

Beyond providing a wide range of services, the Innocenter begins to establish itself as a self-sustaining organisation. German Entrepreneurship, leading the sustainability plan, is preparing a base for business mode validation and commercialisation. Additionally, to the network established, 20 European organisations were contacted to evaluate long-term partnerships and collaboration opportunities for the sustainability of the project.