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Strengthening Startup Ecosystem: F.I.R.S.T, IIT Kanpur, and ASEAN Economic Forum Sign MoU

In a significant move to bolster the startup landscape across ASEAN nations, the Foundation for Innovation and Research Support (F.I.R.S.T), IIT Kanpur, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the ASEAN Economic Forum. The signing ceremony took place at the India-ASEAN ScaleHub Programme 2024 held in Bali, Indonesia.

Professor Ankush Sharma, Professor In-charge of SIIC (F.I.R.S.T), IIT Kanpur, and Sachin Gopalan, Director of the ASEAN Economic Forum, signed the MoU during the program. This collaboration aims to enhance access to technology, market opportunities, and valuable business connections for startups in ASEAN countries.

The India-ASEAN ScaleHub Programme, funded by the Government of India through the ASEAN-India Science and Technology Development Fund, is a collaborative effort supported by the Department of Science and Technology and the Ministry of External Affairs, and organized by F.I.R.S.T, IIT Kanpur. The program aims to promote India-ASEAN partnerships through science, technology, and innovation-driven activities across the ASEAN community, fostering economic ties, encouraging innovation, and promoting sustainable development between ASEAN member states and India.

The event brought together a delegation of senior stakeholders from the Indian innovation ecosystem and 40 promising startups from diverse sectors such as healthcare, agritech, cleantech, defense, aerospace, and AI/ML. This platform provided growth-stage startups with resources, infrastructure, and mentorship to facilitate networking, collaboration, and business expansion across ASEAN markets. Startups presented elevator pitches to distributors and channel partners and received multiple awards during the closing ceremony. This initiative aligns with ASEAN’s vision of fostering entrepreneurship and innovation while enhancing public-private partnerships for broader social and economic impact.

Reflecting on the collaboration, Prof. Ankush Sharma, Professor in Charge at SIIC, IIT Kanpur, said, “This collaboration marks a significant milestone in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship across ASEAN nations. By leveraging our collective resources and expertise, we aim to provide startups with the tools and opportunities they need to succeed in a competitive global market.”

H. E. Shri Jayant N. Khobragade, Ambassador of India to ASEAN, participated in the program and commended the organizers for a successful event. Representatives from Indonesia’s National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) and the ASEAN Economic Community also actively participated.

Against the backdrop of growing collective economies in ASEAN and India, the program offered a unique platform for government officials, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders to connect and develop strategies that drive economic integration and sustainable growth. The program included panel discussions, roundtable talks, startup pitches, and one-on-one networking sessions with channel partners.

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