It will be the biggest venture fund supporting the country’s AI and robotics sector, where funding is still at a nascent stage.
Bengaluru-based ARTPARK (AI and Robotics Technology Park) works closely with universities and researchers to develop cutting-edge technology solutions to real-world problems specific to India. It aims to help talented people and researchers set up companies and develop products.
“We have the university ecosystem that produces world-class talents. Connecting them to an institution like ARTPARK will help them to work on their ideas, use our resources and scale up solutions,” ARTPARK’s CEO Umakant Soni told ET. “We are launching this $100 million fund to help such companies.”
He said the fund could potentially address the existing gap in financing deep tech firms. “VC funds in India expect companies to show value in terms of revenue. But in reality, revenue is only a lagging indicator, not a leading indicator,” he said.
The soon-to-be-launched VC fund will focus on companies and startups that have a risk appetite. “ARTPARK is a place where people come to take risks. The institution will provide an ecosystem, talent and funding where innovative minds can take bold risks and develop tech solutions in strategic areas,” Soni said.
ARTPARK was incubated at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, last year, and set up with support from AI Foundry, also a section 8 company, in a public-private partnership with $32 million seed grant from the department of science and technology and the Karnataka government.
The organisation plans to seed and support unique companies in the AI and robotics space that can make visible societal impact in healthcare, education, infrastructure, agriculture and such select areas.
The technology innovation park is set up on the lines of Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in the US that has been at the forefront of creating Silicon Valley. “We want to take technology moonshots and create a sustainable ecosystem that can come up with some remarkable results in the next 10 years,” Soni said.
According to him, the VC fund aligns with ARTPARK’s economic model where the organisation will become autonomous in five years once the funding from the government stops. “The organisation will also hold stake in companies similar to SRI,” he said.
Soni is also founding partner at pi Ventures, one of India’s first focused deep-tech funds that had a fund corpus of $30 million.