There are sufficient reasons to be positive about the future of the deep-tech startup ecosystem in India. According to a NASSCOM report in January 2021, the Indian startup pool has grown at 40% CAGR since 2014. As of 2020, 19% of all tech startups were making use of deep-tech solutions, and 14% of all Indian startup investments in 2020 were in the deep tech space. Indian deep tech startups are building on the advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, 3D printing, etc., in the recent years. They are also providing cost-efficient solutions for expensive global problems across health care, mobility, robotics, space and agriculture, etc. Some of the achievements by Indian entrepreneurs in the last five years are Early detection of breast cancer, developing cryogenic rocket engines, building flying taxis, capturing water from the air.
The Indian healthcare system consisted of less than one doctor for 1000 people, a ratio that falls below the WHO recommendation. Affordability and ack of access to health care facilities continue to be a big issue in the country, particularly rural India. However, the health care sector has been one of the earliest to make use of technology. Compared to other sectors, healthcare tech startups have received a higher percentage share of funding. Online pharmacies, teleconsultations, AI-enabled diagnostics, fitness products have increased the affordability of healthcare.
Synthetic Biology (SynBio), includes the combination of biology, genetics, engineering, physics, computer science, and more. It is based on the presumption that DNA, the fundamental building block of life, can be altered to re-engineer existing systems or even create new systems. The most popular success story of SynBio is the synthesis of Insulin. Today, Insulin can be made from either yeast or bacteria, rather than extracting it from the pancreas of pigs and cows. Insulin could be synthesized by injecting specific human insulin gene sequence in bacteria and allowing the bacteria to ferment.
Therapeutic use of engineered living cells has almost helped in curing cancer.
CRISPR, the technology that allows scientists to accurately cut any strand of DNA they wish, was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. These techniques have become cheaper. India has premiere institutions such as IISc Bangalore, NCBS Bangalore, CCMB Hyderabad, and others with world-class infrastructure to support research in synthetic biology.