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Top 5 incubators for startups gone virtual to fight the pandemic in India

It has been a difficult time for businesses of all sizes due to the uncertainty of this global pandemic, but the impact on startups with shorter cash runways has been severe. Until this pandemic runs its course, survival and sustainability is the key focus for entrepreneurs. In this global economic environment, and at a time when startup founders are forced to rethink the fundamentals of their ventures, a sophisticated support system like an incubator or startup accelerator can be a blessing.

There are a number of startup incubators operating in India. Some are government funded, some institutional, while many others are privately held. But all such ecosystems are united with a vision to empower entrepreneurs, and provide ample support to get startups to the best place possible. Some of the benefits offered by such ecosystems also include access to marquee business leaders and investors – who offer valuable early stage business advice and connections. Some programs also coach the founders in fundamentals of product development, marketing strategies and fundraising.

The greatest benefit is being on a journey with a network of fellow founders to lean on, learn from and grow with.

Like many incubators around the world, there are a handful of incubators in India that have gone virtual for short and mid-term needs of startups arising amid the global pandemic situation. The primary function of such virtual incubators is now to cater to startups located across the country and maintain community engagement and enthusiasm to a level experienced in a physical centre.

  1. Supreme Incubator

Supreme Incubator has been active in the entrepreneurial ecosystem for the past 2 years – organizing regular events and mentorship meetups. With their Summer cohort, the program has transitioned to a fully digital model where the 30 selected founders now get together on regular video calls to share progress, meet mentors or join workshops. With a virtual program, they have expanded the scope of support offered and startups incubated. The mission is to make India as the hub for entrepreneurial support, and for founders in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities  to get the same level of networking and support opportunities as their counterparts in metro cities.

The program of SI has received great reach with over 100 applications in the first cohort (Winter 2020) and 350+ applications in the second cohort (Summer 2020), currently, more than 600 entrepreneurs have applied to the program.

  1. Catalyst by Societe Generale

Offering global exposure and mentorship, Catalyst, a 12-week innovation programme from Societe Generale’s global solution centre in India (SG GSC), is calling all enterprise-relevant fintech startups to co-create solutions along with business leaders for the future-ready and customer-focused bank. The 12-week acceleration programme is a platform for technology startups, incubators, accelerators and academic institutions to deliver solutions for current banking challenges. Having successfully completed six editions, the seventh edition of the challenge has identified 396 challenges from across Societe Generale’s units in India, Europe and Africa.


With programs specifically catering to entrepreneurs with profit ventures and social ventures, also student and women entrepreneurs, NSRCEL offers its support to various players of the startup ecosystem.

NSRCEL brings together startups, industry mentors, eminent academicians from its parent institution Indian Institute of Management Bangalore and researchers who thrive on continuous interaction of theory and practice.

NSRCEL is also the first incubator with a program tailored for social entrepreneurs and their unique challenges.


Innovative Ventures and Technologies for Development (INVENT) is a joint collaboration of the Technology Development Board (TDB), Government of India and the Department of International Development (DFID), Government of the United Kingdom. INVENT aims to make a positive social impact by providing incubation support to technology-oriented start-ups. Through the INVENT program, SIDBI Innovation and Incubation Centre (SIIC) Kanpur aims to incubate 40 start-ups working in social enterprise.

  1. IAMAI

Industry body IAMAI has launched the country’s first virtual incubator for short and mid-term needs of technology-related startups arising amid the global pandemic situation. The primary function of the virtual incubator is to address the needs of the start-ups located outside the major cities of Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, and Kolkata, the Internet and Mobile Association of India stated. The industry further said that the programme will be a virtually accessible that will provide state-of-the-art incubation services to every Indian startup and enable them to charter their success stories. It will entail close supervision by the dedicated mentors from the relevant industry for multiple cohorts that would be created based on the domain, sectors and the progress of the startups.

IAMAI also said that it would be providing an initial start-up kit worth 70 Lakhs to all those registered with the virtual incubator.

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