New Delhi: The National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) unveiled the second phase of the 10,000 start-ups initiative that will focus on mentoring deep technology ventures in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and blockchain.

Nasscom, the lobby group for the IT industry, aims to tap the trillion dollar opportunity in the future demand for AI-related technology through its initiative called ‘Accelerate 10X’, Debjani Ghosh, president at Nasscom told reporters at a press conference.

Under the Accelerate 10x programme, 100 start-ups will be mentored every year for a period of six months and will be supported on three aspects including product, technology (engineering and deep tech lab) and access to patient capital.

Unlike the flagship 10,000 start-ups programme that supported early age start-ups, the Accelerate 10X will mentor mature and advanced stage AI start-ups.

Nasscom has forged partnerships with global accelerator Tech Stars and tech giants such as Google, Facebook, IBM, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft that will help set up labs and innovation centres across the country as a part of the programme.

In addition, it is also collaborating with companies such as PwC, Xinova and CEOQuest for strategic mentoring and will work closely with venture capital and private equity firms including AXILOR, SAIF Partners and Inventus Capital Partners.

“Over the years while India has emerged as the third largest start-up ecosystem, our readiness to ride the next wave of deep tech and AI revolution will determine whether India will be able to unlock the trillion-dollar opportunity," said Rishad Premji, chairman of Nasscom.

Since the launch of the 10,000 start-ups in 2013, Nasscom claims to have closed 700 funding deals for early age start-ups worth $250 million until 2017 and aims to ride on the success of the former initiative.

According to estimates, the AI start-up sector saw an increase in funding of over 70% in 2017 with natural language processing being one of the major focus areas for investors.

The single biggest challenge will be to develop the deep-tech talent skill, Premji added.

According to Nasscom, artificial intelligence has the potential to add $957 billion to India’s economy by 2035 and foresees the market for tech startups growing at a rate of 25-30%.

“Prowess in deep tech and artificial intelligence will be one of the main drivers of economic competitiveness in the near future and deep tech startups will drive innovation and spearhead the broad structural transformation of the economy," said Ghosh.

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