IIM Bangalore’s NSRCEL Incubation Centre for Startups & Entrepreneurs tops the list of incubators in the country for producing the most number of start-ups. Data put out by analytics platform YNOS Venture Engine shows that this 24-year-old incubator, one of the oldest in India, has incubated a total 1,431 start-ups until November 2023. While, cumulatively, they have raised funding worth ₹3,494 crore, 21 per cent of the total start-ups here have secured funding.

The second in the list is the Government of Rajasthan’s Technohub, which is based in Jaipur. While 1,320 start-ups have been incubated here, they have only cumulatively raised just about ₹576 crore. Just 8 per cent of their start-ups have been able to secure funding.

The Telangana government’s T-Hub comes third in the list, having incubated 647 start-ups. However, they have cumulatively raised ₹9,813.6 crore, the highest in the country. Also, 38 per cent of T-Hub’s start-ups were successful in getting funding. Set up in 2015, shortly after the formation of the Telangana State, T-Hub is a partnership between the Government of Telangana, three academic institutes in Hyderabad (the International Institute of Information Technology, the Indian School of Business and the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research) and the private sector.

Commenting on the success of NSRCEL and T-Hub, an investor says that setting up an incubator in a metro makes interactions with venture capitalists easier and, in turn, secures better funding. He adds, “An incubator should serve a few important functions — educate the founders on the basics of setting up the company and the regulatory reporting requirements, organise funds or fund start-ups in an early stage, provide a robust advisory committee that can forecast possible obstacles in the industry that they are building in and provide best practices to overcome those and to embellish the team with critical human resources through their network.”

At the same time, another start-up mentor, who we spoke to, said that it is not important for every start-up to go via the incubator route. “It solely depends on the experience and expertise of the start-up founders and what an incubator can offer,” he said. “In some cases, incubators are run by academia, which may not have the expertise to help start-ups become self-sustainable in five years. The start-up ecosystem in most Indian colleges, barring a few IITs, IIITs and IIMs, is not really up to the mark. The other colleges must really concentrate on research and look for ways to make research-driven start-ups profitable,” he says.

To help budding entrepreneurs and get them to secure funding for their start-up ideas, India currently has 923 incubators and accelerators. Among the States with the greatest number of start-up incubators, Tamil Nadu tops the list. The State has 127 of them. Of these, only about half of them, 66 precisely, are in Chennai. Karnataka is second on the list, with 119 incubators and 97 of them are located in Bengaluru. With 109 incubators, Maharashtra is the third on the list. While 48 of these are in Mumbai, 26 are in Pune.