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T-Hub launches new cohort for semiconductor startups

T-Hub, which leads India’s pioneering innovation ecosystem, announced the launch of the semiconductor cohort of the AIC T-Hub Foundation programme to foster innovation and entrepreneurship across the semiconductor sector. The programme is designed to help entrepreneurs navigate the challenges of scaling the startup through expert-led workshops, specialised mentorship, market access, and investor and industry connect.

This is a six-month-long intense hybrid cohort-based programme which will mentor 20 startups with potentially disruptive technologies that could reshape semiconductor supply chains in the future. The startups will be selected based on technological innovation, go-to-market readiness, scalability, and team composition. Interested startups can apply here, and the application closing date is 5 September 2022.

Mahankali Srinivas Rao (MSR), CEO of T-Hub, said, “Indian engineers have contributed massively to the semiconductor sector while working with global companies. Therefore, we must aid them in setting up and scaling their design startups with solid support from the ecosystem. T-Hub and AIC, together with other ecosystem enablers through this program, are trying to provide the semiconductor startups access to the right mentorship, funding channels and networking opportunities.”

The semiconductor cohort of the program will ensure that the selected startups get customised consultation for product commercialisation and market access with the help of global mentors from the industry. T-Hub and AIM will help the startups gain government connections with Indian Semiconductor Mission (ISM), Semiconductor Complex and GAETEC (Galium Arsenide Technology Centre) for quick compliance, certification, and testing to go to market seamlessly.

T-Hub partners like the Central Institute of Tool Design (CITD) and Qualcomm will provide startups free access to Electronic Design Automation (EDA) software tools for Very Large Scale Integration(VLSI) front and back-end development and evaluation platforms to design, validate, and simulate fabless designs. Furthermore, T-Hub and AIC, along with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and IIT -Hyderabad (Indian Institute of Technology), will help startups leverage free access to the Multi Project Wafer (MPW) shuttle.

SoftBank chief executive officer Masayoshi Son has a stark warning for startup founders. Son runs one of the biggest fund houses of the world, SoftBank that posted a record loss of $17 billion in its Vision Fund during the June quarter. Addressing the post-earnings briefing, Son said, “Our Vision Fund saw huge losses but unfortunately unicorn company leaders still believe in their valuation and they would not accept the fact that they may have to see their valuation go lower than they think. So, until the multiple of unlisted companies is lower than that of listed companies, we should wait.”

First, Son is hinting at prolonged funding winter in the startup funding space. That has already been apparent in the funding drop of Son’s Vision Fund. In the June quarter, the fund house invested only $600 million during this period as compared to over $20 billion in the same period last year. Secondly, the fund house implicitly admitted that there was a valuation bubble in startup ecosystem.

Many startups raised billions of dollars in astronomical valuations during the Covid pandemic period. Some of these startups hit the public market through IPO route. Since those listings, many of these new age startups have seen steep correction in their share prices and hence valuations. Son hinted that the fund house would like to wait since the private valuation of startups match the public valuation.

The stance of SoftBank in terms of valuation and future investment indicates that a funding winter is on the horizon. The rate at which India used to add unicorns in the startup space has declined drastically. Funding declarations has also dried down. Some of the recent fund raises have happened at reduced valuations. Amid such environment, we can safely assume that there is no free money available in the market now. Startup founders have to brace up for the impact. We have already seen startups laying off thousands of staffers in recent months. As funding winter looms large, cutting cost has come to the fore.

And this is going to further accelerate in coming months. In a way, such events are required for sustainable development of Indian startup ecosystem. Building something is incredibly difficult but sustaining it after building is considered more difficult. No doubt, Indian entrepreneurs have proved that they can build billion-dollar companies by solving critical problems.

But they now have to prove that these entities can outlast their founders and create generational wealth. To achieve this, cost and profitability have to be brought to the forefront of their business operations. The more their internal accruals take care of their funding needs that will be better for their existence. And current economic environment will separate the men from the boys in the startup space. The Hans India

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