Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his US visit on Tuesday, announced the launch of $150 million Bharat Fund, aimed at creating and providing support to disruptive startups in impact areas.

The announcement was made at the India-US Startup Konnect organized by Nassocom, TiE Silicon Valley and IIM-Ahmedabad’s Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), on the sidelines of his visit to Silicon Valley.

The Bharat Fund is an endeavour to bring together government, academia and corporates to create an enabling ecosystem and encourage youth to solve India’s key problems by providing them risk-capital, prototyping support, guidance and market-access. The fund aims at catalysing over $150 mn for innovative Indian startups through a venture fund and, in addition to capital, provide technical support to entrepreneurs.

The Fund aims to rope in corporates, financial investors and donors to contribute towards strengthening the impact-innovation ecosystem in India.

Bharat Fund derives its name from the ancient name of India. “We want Bharat to stand for ‘Better Health, Agriculture, Renewables and Technologies’ and look forward to working closely with the Government, Indian and global corporates, universities and foundations in this mission to incubate and scale disruptive solutions for India’s masses”, Prof Ashish Nanda, Director, IIM-Ahmedabad, said here.

Among those who announced their support to this partnership include the Union Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Department of Science and Technology and Tata Trusts.

"India needs disruptive ideas and technologies to revolutionize the lives of the masses. Tata Trusts believes entrepreneurship is one of the more effective means of creating scalable solutions,” said Ratan N. Tata, Chairman, Tata Trusts. Tata Trusts is a founding partner of the Bharat Fund.

The India-US Startup Konnect event saw stalwarts of the Indian and US entrepreneurial ecosystem like Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Naveen Tewari (InMobi), Kanwal Rekhi (Inventus) and Naren Gupta (Nexus) discuss various aspects of entrepreneurship.

The event also saw see Indian and US-based organizations jointly promote entrepreneurship in key areas. The IIM Ahmedabad’s CIIE announced collaborations with organisations like University of California at Berkeley, Google and Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator to promote entrepreneurship in impact and technology areas. The Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology will announce a collaboration with Stanford University’s Prakash Labs, and TiE and NASSCOM announced their partnership to support entrepreneurs in the Valley and India.

Also at the event, there were 40+ India-focused startups across impact areas such as agriculture, health, energy and other technology areas exhibiting their work.

The current Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem is more geared towards eCommerce and solutions for urban privileged consumers and significant support for startups in impact areas is required through initiatives like Bharat Fund, said Jaydeep Mandal, Founder of Anandi Pads, a low cost solution for menstrual hygiene for rural India.

If one looks at the startup investment trends over the last 18 months, a miniscule part of total investments in India has gone into areas like healthcare, agriculture, energy or affordable technologies for the masses. Most startups are creating solutions for urban elites. “Through Bharat Fund, we want to bridge this gap”, said Kunal Upadhyay,CEO, CIIE.