Civic Tech Connect 2018 marked the official launch of the Civic Tech India 2018 Accelerator and brought together entrepreneurs and investors to build the civic technology ecosystem in India
Global philanthropic investment firm Omidyar Network, in partnership with venture development firm Village Capital, hosted India’s first-ever civic technology event – the Civic Tech Connect 2018 – focused on bringing together investors and entrepreneurs to build India’s civic tech ecosystem. The event, held in Bengaluru on June 14, saw more than 100 entrepreneurs, investors, philanthropic funders, industry experts, and civic tech opinion leaders from across the country come together on a single platform for the first time.
The event connected aspiring civic tech entrepreneurs with potential investors, mentors, and potential customers to drive conversations around the development of the civic tech industry in India and further boost its adoption. While the industry is still at a nascent stage in India, its development has accelerated across the globe in the past couple of years.
With 337 million Indians slated to use a smartphone in 2018 and an increasing number of technology-led initiatives by the government such as Digital India, BharatNet, and the Smart Cities program, the Indian civic tech ecosystem is poised for growth. Omidyar Network, which has invested more than $132M across 75 civic tech organizations around the globe to date, with more than $9M+ investments in India, is keen to further nurture and develop this budding ecosystem in the country through the Civic Tech India 2018 Accelerator program, in collaboration with Village Capital.
Speaking at the event, Roopa Kudva, Partner and managing director at Omidyar Network India Advisors, commented, “India needs more entrepreneurs driving the growth of the civic tech industry. With important technology enablers in place, the sector has the potential to develop rapidly. As the ‘next half billion’ Indians come online for the first time through their mobile phones over the next five years, there is a huge opportunity for investors and entrepreneurs to create innovative civic tech solutions to enable central, state, and local governments to be more responsive and efficient in the delivery of critical services, while empowering citizens to engage more effectively with governments.”
The event also saw discussions with experts such as Viraj Tyagi, CEO, eGovernments Foundation; political economist and former IAS officer, Santhosh Mathew, and Kartik Desai, executive director, Asha Impact; as they shared their insights and experiences in developing technological initiatives that will scale and create long term impact. Poor infrastructure, lack of waste management and traffic issues were identified as some of the key civic issues that can be tackled though civic tech, and the discussion highlighted the opportunities and challenges for entrepreneurs looking to build scalable and impactful solutions in this space in India.
“Awareness around the application of civic tech remains low among potential end-users, even with increasing smartphone and internet usage,” said Deepak Menon, regional director, Emerging Markets, Village Capital. “It is important to not only create business opportunities and provide mentorship for entrepreneurs to ideate and innovate within this space, but also proactively initiate conversations around civic technology among citizens as a viable solution to their everyday civic and social issues,” he added.
Civic Tech Connect 2018 was the official launch of Omidyar Network and Village Capital’s Civic Tech India 2018 Accelerator program. The three-month accelerator program will train early-stage civic engagement ventures by bringing together entrepreneurs, influencers, the government, and potential funders from across the country, through a series of forums and workshops. The program is designed to help the ventures scale, grow their revenue, and become more investment ready, while building a community of diverse ventures and stakeholders working to solve India’s most pressing civic engagement problems.