The India Deep Science Tech report is an in-depth analysis of the latest investment trends in the sector. For the first time ever, we provide a ringside view of building IP-led technology companies from seed to commercial scale.
Today’s deep science is tomorrow’s mainstream tech.
The key takeaways
Deep science tech companies leverage years of scientific R&D to develop innovative technologies and IP-driven businesses, targeting major sectors like healthcare, food, and energy with highly differentiated products. This culminates into a $300 billion+ market.
Funding surge in deep science tech startups - Investment in deep science tech startups has consistently doubled every three years since 2010, with projections to surpass $10 billion by 2029, indicating robust growth and investor confidence.
Exponential growth in significant investment rounds - The number of investment rounds exceeding $5 million has doubled every three years. Since 2017, follow-on rounds have outpaced fresh funding, signaling investor commitment to doubling down on scale-up.
AI and biotechnology lead funding in India, but advanced materials is emerging - AI and biotechnology have historically dominated India's funding landscape (80% of total investments since 2010), with advanced materials gaining momentum in recent years.
Today’s deep science is tomorrow’s mainstream tech - Deep science tech ventures introduce first-of-a-kind products that pave the way for future mainstream technologies. Advances in computational and data-driven research methodologies, along with decreased costs of foundational technologies, are lowering the barriers to scientific innovation. Deep science tech companies have adapted the digital playbook but their journeys are unique.
It’s the right time to build in India for the world - With its efficient capital use, competitive talent pool, and large domestic markets, India offers an ideal ecosystem for developing and scaling deep science tech solutions, particularly in energy and spacetech sectors. Backed by policy support and significant investment in key sectors, India is rapidly becoming a leader in global deep science research and innovation.
Technology deep dives
Deep science tech innovations are driven by fundamental advances in four fields: Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology, Advanced Materials and Electronics & Photonics. In the report, we deep dive into the investment trends, key breakthroughs in the space, and emerging opportunities in each technology vertical.
Recent years have seen a notable increase in follow-on funding for early AI ventures, with 2022 witnessing five investments exceeding $10M, underscoring a growing interest despite a slowdown in fresh investment. Indian deep science AI companies have predominantly focused on spectral image and genomic data analysis for applications ranging from diagnostics to robots to satellite imagery. More recently companies are leveraging irregular datasets and complex sciences to create models capable of handling unstructured data. In response to the global proliferation of LLMs, companies are distinguishing themselves with proprietary data sets, targeting domain-specific use cases, and as facilitators for adjacent technologies such as semiconductor design.
Investments in India's biotechnology sector surged post COVID-19, with nearly $900 million allocated between 2013-2023, driven by a focus on therapeutics, diagnostics, and sustainable agri-food technologies. Key investments include Molbio Diagnostics' and Bugworks'. The agri-food industry has seen growth in innovations like biostimulants and alternative proteins, with notable investments in companies like String Bio and Sea6 Energy. M&A, particularly in the pharmaceutical sector, offer exit pathways in the sector.
In 2021, the number of fresh investments reached its peak, with a subsequent decline reflecting broader macroeconomic challenges. Notably, in the materials sector, strategic investments and joint ventures (JVs) have become more prominent, exemplified by partnerships like Amara Raja with Log9 and Graphite India's investment in Godi Energy. The drive towards energy transition and advancements in spacetech have predominantly fueled innovation in advanced materials. Energy storage tech in particular continued to see robust investment activity in spite of the broader slowdown.
Electronics and photonics
The electronics sector, while still emerging, has seen a shift towards later-stage investments post-2019, though with smaller average investment sizes compared to other technologies (average $1.77M as compared to $8.2M across the other three technologies). As Moore's Law decelerates and the demand for computing power escalates, particularly with AI adoption, there's a pressing need for architectural solutions. We see clear opportunities in upcoming semiconductor fields as well, such as compound semiconductors for mobility and telecom applications, secure and low-power cores for embedded systems, and optical interconnect systems for large- and medium-sized data centers.
We’ve defined deep science tech companies as ones building on fundamental science breakthroughs in one of four technologies (AI, biotechnology, advanced materials and electronics & photonics) AND either filed for or received patents for their tech.
We’ve analyzed investment data for startups founded in or after 2010. The data is CLEAN with only equity transactions being covered. The investment data was obtained from Tracxn and media reports.
The insights we’ve drawn stem from conversations with 500+ early stage founders over the past couple of years; and the lessons we’ve learned investing in deep science tech companies since 2016.