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The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) has recently issued a draft policy, the ‘Sagarmala Innovation and Start-up Policy’, for stakeholder consultation. This policy aims to harness new technology developed by Indian start-ups and entrepreneurs to co-create the future of India’s growing maritime sector. The ultimate goal of this policy is to build a strong innovation ecosystem in the country that will drive sustainable growth and generate large scale employment opportunities.

The draft policy identifies several key areas for start-ups to flourish, including decarbonization, optimizing processes through data, maritime education, multi-modal transportation, manufacturing, alternate/ advance materials, maritime cybersecurity, smart communication, and marine electronics. The framework is designed to distribute responsibilities and benefits among the various stakeholders, including upcoming young entrepreneurs with innovative ideas.

The policy outlines several initiatives to support start-ups and entrepreneurs in the maritime sector. These include a digital portal-based selection of start-ups, grants to create a minimum viable product/ services (MVP), commercialization of proprietary technology, including market entry or scaling up, creation of ‘Launch pads’ at ports for carrying out trials, facilitating pilot projects, establishing working space and adopting products and solutions, annual start-up awards in the maritime sector recognizing distinguished efforts of innovation, organizing buyer-seller meetings, providing technical knowledge support for VCs, and guidance to non-registered start-ups and individuals with promising ideas in the maritime sector, including registration of start-up and availing Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) recognition. The policy also provides regulatory support in tenders and sub-contracting and legal and accountancy backup to start-ups for IP-Patent filing, company registration, annual filings, and closures.

The promotion of start-ups shall be through the development of Maritime Innovation Hubs (MIH) which shall perform several functions. These include developing incubators and accelerators with state-of-the-art facilities to cover all aspects of the startup journey from idea to scaled product, developing a centralized repository containing all pertinent information to assist emerging entrepreneurs, attracting investment for eligible start-up businesses and innovative maritime technology, entrepreneur development through ‘know-how’ sessions about the various aspects of the maritime industry and launching of innovation-focused programs, and collaborating with national & international stakeholders for mentorship, knowledge sharing, and facilitating access to global subject matter experts, serial entrepreneurs, business leaders, and investors with the potential to get their entry and scaling in India. Overall, this policy is a significant step taken by MoPSW to create a strong ecosystem for fostering start-ups and innovation in the nation. The ministry believes that this will surely promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the maritime sector. Through this policy, MoPSW wants to enable start-ups to grow and prosper through innovations. With the creation of a robust maritime innovation ecosystem, the country will be able to establish long-term action plans, networks, infrastructure, and other resources to further develop the port-led development and the maritime sector in India.

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