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Action plan for promoting startups in India

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Action plan for promoting startups in India

The concept of building a Start-Up environment in India and creating an eco-system for developing entrepreneurship in India, the Government has issued an Action Plan for the ‘STARTUP’s IN INDIA’. The various aspects of the action plan are noted below:-

(A) Registration:-

In order to commence operations, Startups require registration with relevant regulatory authorities. Delays or lack of clarity in registration process may lead to delays in establishment and operations of Startups, thereby reducing the ability of the business to get bank loans, employ workers and generate incomes. Enabling registration process in an easy and timely manner can reduce this burden significantly.

Towards these efforts, the Government has introduced a Mobile App (startupindia) to provide on-the-go accessibility for:-

a. Registering Startups with relevant agencies of the Government. A simple form shall be made available for the same. The Mobile App shall have backend integration with Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Registrar of Firms for seamless information exchange and processing of the registration application.

b. Tracking the status of the registration application and anytime downloading of the registration certificate. A digital version of the final registration certificate shall be made available for downloading through the Mobile App.

c. Filing for compliances and obtaining information on various clearances/ approvals/ registrations required.

d. Collaborating with various Startup ecosystem partners. The App shall provide a collaborative platform with a national network of stakeholders (including venture funds, incubators, academia, mentors etc.) of the Startup ecosystem to have discussions towards enhancing and bolstering the ecosystem.

Applying for various schemes being undertaken under the Startup India Action Plan.

(B) Compliance Regime based on Self-Certification:-

To reduce the regulatory burden on Startups thereby allowing them to focus on their core business and keep compliance cost low.

Details Regulatory formalities requiring compliance with various labour and environment laws are time consuming and difficult in nature. Often, new and small firms are unaware of nuances of the issues and can be subjected to intrusive action by regulatory agencies. In order to make compliance for Startups friendly and flexible, simplifications are required in the regulatory regime.

Accordingly, the process of conducting inspections shall be made more meaningful and simple.

Startups shall be allowed to self-certify compliance (through the Startup mobile app) with 9 labour and environment laws (refer below).
In case of the labour laws, no inspections will be conducted for a period of 3 years.
Startups may be inspected on receipt of credible and verifiable complaint of violation, filed in writing and approved by at least one level senior to the inspecting officer.
In case of environment laws, Startups which fall under the ‘white category’ (as defined by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) would be able to self-certify compliance and only random checks would be carried out in such cases.
Labour Laws:-

The Building and Other Constructions Workers’ (Regulation of Employment & Conditions of Service) Act, 1996
The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment & Conditions of Service) Act, 1979
The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972
The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970
The Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952
The Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948
Environment Laws:-

The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
The Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Cess (Amendment) Act, 2003
The Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
(C) Fast-Tracking Patent Registration:-

The scheme for Startup Intellectual Property Protection (SIPP) shall facilitate filing of Patents, Trademarks and Designs by innovative Startups. Various measures being taken in this regard include:

a. Fast-tracking of Startup patent applications: The valuation of any innovation goes up immensely, once it gets the protective cover of a patent. To this end, the patent application of Startups shall be fast-tracked for examination and disposal, so that they can realize the value of their IPRs at the earliest possible.

b. Panel of facilitators to assist in filing of IP applications: For effective implementation of the scheme, a panel of “facilitators” shall be empanelled by the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (CGPDTM), who shall also regulate their conduct and functions. Facilitators will be responsible for providing general advisory on different IPRs as also information on protecting and promoting IPRs in other countries. They shall also provide assistance in filing and disposal of the IP applications related to patents, trademarks and designs under relevant Acts, including appearing on behalf of Startups at hearings and contesting opposition, if any, by other parties, till final disposal of the IPR application.

c. Government to bear facilitation cost: Under this scheme, the Central Government shall bear the entire fees of the facilitators for any number of patents, trademarks or designs that a Startup may file, and the Startups shall bear the cost of only the statutory fees payable.

d. Rebate on filing of application: Startups shall be provided an 80% rebate in filing of patents vis-à-vis other companies. This will help them pare costs in the crucial formative years.

The scheme is being launched initially on a pilot basis for 1 year; based on the experience gained, further steps shall be taken.

(D) Relaxed Norms of Public Procurement for Startups:-

To provide an equal platform to Startups (in the manufacturing sector) vis-à-vis the experienced Entrepreneurs / companies in public procurement

Typically, whenever a tender is floated by a Government entity or by a PSU, very often the eligibility condition specifies either “prior experience” or “prior turnover”. Such a stipulation prohibits/ impedes Startups from participating in such tenders.

At present, effective April 1, 2015 Central Government, State Government and PSUs have to mandatorily procure at least 20% from the Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME).

In order to promote Startups, Government shall exempt Startups (in the manufacturing sector) from the criteria of “prior experience/ turnover” without any relaxation in quality standards or technical parameters. The Startups will also have to demonstrate requisite capability to execute the project as per the requirements and should have their own manufacturing facility in India.

(E) Providing Funding Support through a Fund of funds with a Corpus of INR 10,000 Crores:-

One of key challenges faced by Startups in India has been access to finance. Often Startups, due to lack of collaterals or existing cash flows, fail to justify the loans. Besides, the high risk nature of Startups wherein a significant percentage fails to take-off, hampers their investment attractiveness. In order to provide funding support to Startups, Government will set up a fund with an initial corpus of INR 2,500 crore and a total corpus of INR 10,000 crore over a period 4 years (i.e. INR 2,500 crore per year) . The Fund will be in the nature of Fund of Funds, which means that it will not invest directly into Startups, but shall participate in the capital of SEBI registered Venture Funds.

Key features of the Fund of Funds are highlighted below:

a. The Fund of Funds shall be managed by a Board with private professionals drawn from industry bodies, academia, and successful Startups.

b. Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) shall be a co-investor in the Fund of Funds.

c. The Fund of Funds shall contribute to a maximum of 50% of the stated daughter fund size. In order to be able to receive the contribution, the daughter fund should have already raised the balance 50% or more of the stated fund size as the case maybe. The Fund of Funds shall have representation on the governance structure/ board of the venture fund based on the contribution made.

d. The Fund shall ensure support to a broad mix of sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, health, education, etc.

(F) Credit Guarantee Fund for Startups:-

To catalyse entrepreneurship by providing credit to innovators across all sections of society Details In order to overcome traditional Indian stigma associated with failure of Startup enterprises in general and to encourage experimentation among Startup entrepreneurs through disruptive business models, credit guarantee comfort would help flow of Venture Debt from the formal Banking System.

Debt funding to Startups is also perceived as high risk area and to encourage Banks and other Lenders to provide Venture Debts to Startups, Credit guarantee mechanism through National Credit Guarantee Trust Company (NCGTC)/ SIDBI is being envisaged with a budgetary Corpus of INR 500 crore per year for the next four years.

(G) Tax Exemption on Capital Gains:-

To promote investments into Startups by mobilizing the capital gains arising from sale of capital assets.

Due to their high risk nature, Startups are not able to attract investment in their initial stage. It is therefore important that suitable incentives are provided to investors for investing in the Startup ecosystem. With this objective, exemption shall be given to persons who have capital gains during the year, if they have invested such capital gains in the Fund of Funds recognized by the Government.

This will augment the funds available to various VCs/AIFs for investment in Startups.

In addition, existing capital gain tax exemption for investment in newly formed manufacturing MSMEs by individuals shall be extended to all Startups. Currently, such an entity needs to purchase “new assests” with the capital gain received to avail such an exemption. Investment in ‘computer or computer software’ (as used in core business activity) shall also be considered as purchase of ‘new assets’ in order to promote technology driven Startups.

(H) Tax Exemption to Startups for 3 Years:-

With a view to stimulate the development of Startups in India and provide them a competitive platform, it is imperative that the profits of Eligible Startup initiatives are exempted from income-tax for a period of 3 years. This fiscal exemption shall facilitate growth of business and meet the working capital requirements during the initial years of operations. The exemption shall be available subject to non-distribution of dividend by the Startup.

(I) Tax Exemption on Investment above Fair Market Value:-

Under The Income Tax Act, 1961, where a Startup (company) receives any consideration for issue of shares which exceeds the Fair Market Value (FMV) of such shares, such excess consideration is taxable in the hands of recipient as Income from Other Sources.

In the context of Startups, where the idea is at a conceptualization or development stage, it is often difficult to determine the FMV of such shares. In majority of the cases, FMV is also significantly lower than the value at which the capital investment is made. This results into the tax being levied under section 56(2) (viib). Currently, investment by venture capital funds in Startups is exempted from operations of this provision. The same shall be extended to investment made by incubators in the Startups.

(J) Organizing Startup Fests for Showcasing Innovation and Providing a Collaboration Platform :

A pivotal component for growth of Startups is regular communication and collaboration within the Startup community, both national as well international. An effective Startup ecosystem can’t be created by the Startups alone. It is dependent on active participation of academia, investors, industry and other stakeholders.

To bolster the Startup ecosystem in India, the Government is proposing to introduce Startup fests at national and international stages.

These fests would provide a platform to Startups in India to showcase their ideas and work with a larger audience comprising of potential investors, mentors and fellow Startups

As part of “Make in India” initiative, Government proposes to:

Hold one fest at the national level annually to enable all the stakeholders of Startup ecosystem to come together on one platform.
Hold one fest at the international level annually in an international city known for its Startup ecosystem.
The fests shall have activities such as sessions to connect with investors, mentors, incubators and Startups, showcasing innovations, exhibitions and product launches, pitches by Startups, mentoring sessions, curated Startup walks, talks by disruptive innovators, competitions such as Hackathon, Makerspace, etc., announcements of rewards and recognitions, panels and conferences with industry leaders, etc.

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