“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right” Oprah Winfrey
Much of the world will look back at 2016 as the year that changed it all – Brexit, the US Presidential election and India’s clash with cash were all potentially game-changing events. What affects the world definitely impacts us in Pune as well, and companies, small and big, have been putting their minds to dealing with these changed times. That’s not all that made news here, though – the technology ecosystem in Pune saw its own set of news-makers. Let’s look at a few things that made headlines in Pune.
Pune Smart City
The year dawned bright for the vision of Pune Smart City. The Government of India’s Smart Cities Mission’s first list of 20 cities, released in end-January saw Pune figure very close to the top of the list. This marked the start of a flurry of activity inspired by the Pune Municipal Corporation. The activity received special impetus when Prime Minister, Shri. Narendra Modi launched 14 projects of Pune’s Smart City plan in June. We at SEAP, are also putting our weight behind this initiative and have been involved in several consultations with those at PMC making these plans.The rest of the year has kept up the momentum and expect it to gather pace in 2017, especially with the announcement of the Union Cabinet approving the Pune Metro late in December.
The growing Pune Technology Ecosystem
Pune has lost none of its charm as a center of choice for technology companies looking to set up base in India. This year too several centres being expanded and some new names making their presence felt. What was especially noticeable was the growth beyond the traditional sectors like IT. German auto components company ZF set up a center for software and mechanical engineering estimated to create an additional 2500 jobs. Japanese auto testing systems major HORIBA opened their first India tech center in Pune this year. Auto players already at home in Pune also expanded, like Tata Motors’ global delivery center. Another Tata company, Tata Technologies, also expanded their Axia VAVE Center of Excellence for product development. The traditional software space also saw growth – take the case of EMC announcing their 2nd R & D center in Pune. Our space looks set to keep growing at a robust rate over 2017 too.
In the money – Pune Startups
The deal flow in the startup ecosystem continued at a slower pace than the previous years but was still quite encouraging. Pune emerged as the 4th largest magnet for such capital in India with some eye-catching deals. There were several deals over the $ 1 Million mark – startups like ElasticRun, Inuxu Technology, icustommadeit, ShoppingPal, Sminq, WorkApps and Tokri among others. There were bigger deals too significantly over the $ 10 Million mark, most notably Druva Technology, iCertis Technology and HelpShift Technology. This was apart from the several seed and angel funding rounds for earlier stage startups. There were some big acquisitions too, CitrusPay’s acquisition by Dutch payments company PayU, and LeftShift’s acquisition by Indonesian company GO-JEKbeing chief among them. L & T Infotech also joined in this flow by acquiring Pune-based analytics startup AugmentiQ. One Pune startup then featured for making a big-name acquisition was FirstCry, that acquired Mahindra Group-backed BabyOye. In some ways driven by government initiatives like StartUp India,this will continue to be an exciting space next year too.
How can we close out our report without mention of Pune Connect 2016 – the marquee startup event of the year. Mid-November saw the biggest and best Pune Connect ever – with tremendous participation from startups, entrepreneurs and several inspiring mentors. The event was marked by startups from sectors far beyond the traditional software space and this was most encouraging. The speakers, especially Mr. Gopichand Katragadda, CTO of Tata Sons was especially inspirational. The highlight of the event was an exciting shootout between the finally shortlisted startups, and event presided over by the Union Minister of State for Electronics & IT, the Hon. P P Choudhary, and the DG of the STPI, Dr. Omkar Rai. The bar has been set quite high for Pune Connect 2017 – but we will definitely strive to clear it.