Program Application



Accepting Applications from

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) is an international, non-profit organization that undertakes scientific research for development in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. ICRISAT advocates a holistic approach to its agricultural research agenda of improving the livelihood of smallholder farmers and the environment by focusing on partnerships and market-oriented, sustainable, and inclusive research-led interventions made possible by its multi-disciplinary scientific community.

ICRISAT is headquartered at Patancheru near Hyderabad in India, with two regional research hubs (at Kenya and Mali) and six research stations in sub-Saharan Africa (at Nigeria, Niger, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia).

Agri-Business Incubator of ICRISAT (ABI-ICRISAT) was established with a vision to support innovative technology-backed ag-tech start-ups and agribusiness enterprises working on solving dryland agricultural challenges. Over the years, it has supported 106 start-ups, of which 91 have graduated from the incubator. Our start-ups have generated over 3000 direct jobs and raised US$50mn in follow-on funding.


ABI-ICRISAT | Call for Applications under NIDHI-Seed Support Program

The objective of the NIDHI-SSP is to ensure timely availability of seed fund to deserving incubatee start-ups supported by the TBI, thereby enabling them to take their venture to next level and facilitate towards their success in the market place. The fund is meant to be used for quicker commercialization of innovative technologies/products/services and help the startups to graduate to a level where they will be able to raise follow-on investments from Angel Investors/Venture Capitalists/Commercial banks and financial institutions.

ABI-ICRISAT is seeking applications from start-ups working on innovative technologies/business models in:

  • Precision agriculture
  • Farm mechanization
  • Ag-biotechnology
  • Urban farming models
  • Alternate protein
  • Climate change and resilient models
  • Supply chain and traceability
  • Agri-fintech
  • Precision food & animal diagnostics
  • Farm inputs
  • Food technology
  • Value Addition Innovations

Selection of applicants
Applications for the seed fund will be subject to two level of the review process:

  • Internal review by ABI-ICRISAT
  • Selection for Incubation at ABI-ICRISAT
  • After completion of 3 months of mandatory incubation, start-ups will be invited to present before the Seed Support Management Committee (SSMC)

Broad criteria for review criteria will include (but not limited to):

  • Team with relevant skillsets, and execution capability
  • Clear value proposition and competitive advantage
  • Customer segment, Size of market, or potential for significant impact
  • Intellectual property
  • Roadmap with clearly defined milestones especially with regards to product development and visibility for revenue generation.
  • Regulatory/certification/policy risks

The fund is available only to registered start-ups as a private limited company with a minimum of 51% ownership by Indian citizens. Under the NIDHI-SSP, a company will be a start-up as per definition given by DPIIT.

  • Start-up should be incorporated as a private limited company
  • Turnover should be less than INR 100 Crores in any of the previous financial years
  • An entity shall be considered as a start-up up to 10 years from the date of its incorporation
  • Start-up should be working towards innovation/ improvement of existing products, services and processes and should have the potential to generate employment/ create wealth.
  • An entity formed by splitting up or reconstruction of an existing business shall not be considered a "Start-up"

Other eligibility criteria:

  • Support is not meant for-Indian subsidiaries of MNCs/foreign companies
  • Overseas Citizens of India-OCI and Persons of Indian Origin-PIO are considered as Indian citizens for the purpose of this scheme
  • Start-up which has already received NIDHI seed funding from any other incubator will not be eligible for seed fund
  • Funding for capital expenditure may not be encouraged
  • Minimum 3 months of incubation (mandatory) with ABI-ICRISAT at the time of SSMC pitch.

Fund usage

  • Product development: Procurement of equipment and tools, prototyping, testing and trials, raw material and consumables, fabrication, outsourcing of technical supports and services for the company‚Äôs product.
  • Manpower: Salaries for team members can be apportioned.
  • Marketing: For test marketing, sales, and promotions of companies products and services including traveling only for business and product promotion.
  • Mentoring: Seeking professional mentoring assistance.
  • Professional services: For legal, accountancy, IP, marketing, strategy, regulatory compliance, certification, or any other justifiable professional services.
  • Contingencies/Overrun: This shall not exceed 10% of the seed support.
  • For any other business operations purpose which needs to be justified in the application itself and as recommended/ approved by the Investment committee from time to time.

Broad terms of service

  • Disbursement of the seed funding will be in tranches, linked to pre-defined milestones. The funds will be released only after due diligence and execution of the Seed Support Agreement.
  • Investment mode: Soft loan (debt) with repayment terms
  • Monitoring: Investee companies will submit monthly progress and financial reports.

Shortlisted applicants will be contacted for subsequent steps. The selection decision taken by the SSMC will be final.

NIDHI SSP pitch templ...
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