There may be biases for innovation in rural and urban startup zones in India. Some founders may claim that “jugaad” is in India’s DNA, while others may reflect upon technology’s role in innovation. There are many examples to support either claim, but few that can compare two distinct journeys in the same industry. Since there are various factors involved, reducing the variables is key. We can compare two stories, industries or journeys but not two results as an outcome of rural v/s urban.
There are many startup success stories in the rural landscape that are tackling local problems. Urban startups are focused more on scaling across the nation. This seems to be the trend that’s permeating the Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem. That’s where funding is being channelled as well.
There are large development gaps in the rural market, where local champions (bio-farming, agri-tech, cotton, etc.) are excelling through innovation. They’re providing cost-effective solutions to real-world challenges. They also serve as examples for urban startups to analyse and implement in their solutions.
Rural innovation comes in the form of individual innovation and organizational-based research. There are individuals that start a new field, a new product line or create a rural breakthrough. There are also organizations (government, private sector, etc.) that are actively designing products that benefit rural India. They are also moving the needle in the space, providing much needed inspiration and support to innovators.
The Rural Innovators Startup Conclave (RISC) hosts rural innovators to present in front of investors and industry players. They attract hundreds of participants to present their innovations, which are typically in the areas of sustainability, local tech and consumer products. At the conclave, the researchers at National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (NIRDPR) are also launching many technological innovations that they’ve developed in conjunction with rural innovators.