Eight trends in entrepreneurship to look out for in 2022

– Anand Sri Ganesh, CEO of NSRCEL at IIMB

These eight underlying entrepreneurship and innovation trends will help Indian entrepreneurs endure and survive beyond the pandemic to define the state of entrepreneurship-led progress in the years to come.

Recently, headlines have been dominated by entrepreneurs, scaling heights of valuation, creating blockbuster IPOs, and achieving global recognition. While these headlines hide the innovation, excitement, struggles and headwinds thousands of entrepreneurs grapple with, it does serve as a bellwether for both the aspiration and achievement of a new breed of tenacious innovators.

COVID-19 has shown — resilience among entrepreneurs to weather all constraints and continue to overcome, and agility to look at the pandemic as an opportunity to pivot to meet the healthcare needs of millions and the emerging economic and livelihood needs.

Observing these changes, eight underlying entrepreneurship and innovation trends have emerged in India, which will endure and survive beyond the pandemic to define the state of entrepreneurship-led progress in the years to come.

Tech-enabled, tech-embedded

To get the elephant out of the way — today, even entrepreneurs from a non-tech background are extremely comfortable in imagining technology-enabled products and services. In fact, they can build organisational capability at scale.

Technology will enable innovative business models, disruptive product-market constructs, customer adoption, and co-innovation with suppliers and partner networks, becoming the foundational route to sustenance and scale.

Software-enabled, ‘as-a-service’ models

Both enterprises and consumers are turning digital natives and spawning a wide range of propositions to migrate to platforms or software-enabled business models with AI-enabled self-service capabilities.

Platform business models are stabilising and proliferating, building on omnipresent connectivity and information access, creating massively networked ecosystems of customers, suppliers, and market enablers.

IP-led propositions

There will be a surge in IP-led product and service propositions, especially in areas like medical diagnostics and affordable healthcare, financial inclusion, and agritech.

Academia and research institutions will participate strongly in enabling such entrepreneurs through models that allow co-innovation and commercialisation of patents.

India for India

Innovation, targeting Indian consumers, will take mainstage. Entrepreneurs will further capitalise on the youth economy, truly benefiting from the demographic dividend.

New-age businesses will offer a great market for innovation, allowing digital-first ventures to design products and services efficiently.

India for the world

India’s global entrepreneurial footprint will expand beyond enterprise and SaaS products to include diverse offerings, including consumer brands, healthtech, and social ventures.

India has long been seen as a source of low-cost innovation. There will be a pivot from low-cost to high-impact innovation, catering to global consumer and enterprise needs.

India from India

There has been a small yet steady undercurrent of products and solutions that embed an Indic dimension to their construct. This spans GI-tagged products, artisan craftsmanship, manufacturing techniques, raw materials, and cultural origins.

A growing wave of Indian consumers, rediscovering their identity in Indian heritage and culture, will prefer such innovations. 

Intrapreneurship and Entrepreneurship

Intrapreneurship and corporate accelerators will start embracing entrepreneurs in more strategic and sustaining ways.

Boundaries of innovation will extend beyond the corporate firewall, allowing corporates to create a network of entrepreneurs that allow incumbent corporates to keep a pulse on disruptive innovations and access them quickly to discover and scale new market opportunities and industry trends.

Cross-border collaborations

There is a growing interest from mature economies and global clusters of innovation to partner with Indian entrepreneurs for joint and cross-border propositions. Still, in its nascent stages, there is great potential for such collaborations to create solutions that address global problems at scale.

In all this, the ecosystem needs to play a role in encouraging experimentation by creating safe sandbox environments to design, test, and iterate ideas.

Moreover, the government – through favourable policies for ventures to experiment, pivot, fail, re-emerge and enable market access for industries — and academia, in fostering fundamental work in innovation plays a critical role.

Continued investment by all three pillars of the ecosystem will accelerate the pace and impact of entrepreneurship in delivering significant economic value and societal progress.