Japanese multinational automotive and motorcycle company Suzuki announced an elaborate long-term initiative to support the burgeoning Indian startup ecosystem by forming Next Bharat Ventures—a substantial corpus of Rs 340 crore exclusively to invest in new ventures. The investment is part of Suzuki’s strategy for building innovation capabilities and social impacts in constantly growing Indian markets.

Suzuki Launches For Next Bharat Ventures

PC: Moneycontrol

Next Bharat Ventures will be a sub-entity of Suzuki, wherein the auto conglomerate will be its sole limited partner for the first fund. This new vehicle underscores Suzuki’s commitment to nurturing startups that can drive significant social impact, particularly in sectors such as agritech supply-chain management, financial inclusion and rural mobility. Harnessing experience of several years in this industry and the financial muscle it can boast of, Suzuki hopes to identify and then nurture ventures in tune with this mission of improving the livelihoods of not only gig workers but also sanitary workers, farmers, and artisans in rural areas.

This fund has been envisioned to make as many as 20 investments annually over the next three to four years, that, at a discrete level, can stand at anywhere between Rs 1 crore and Rs 8 crore. These are investments to be made in enterprises holding the promise of generating immense social value, and being committed to economic development in underserved areas. Much emphasis has been placed on the obvious agritech, as technology applied to agriculture could easily enhance productivity and sustainability for farmers. Supply chain management startups are going to be supported to optimize logistics and distribution—something really critical in a country witnessing an e-commerce and retail boom. 

Concurrently, they will seek to support financial inclusion endeavors to come up with solutions to affordably and predominantly provide accessible financial services to citizens who are neither served by the mainstream banking industry nor are financially included. Rural mobility projects will engage in an exercise aimed at broadening the base of transportation alternatives in rural areas, which will increase connectivity and access to economic activities.

 Next Bharat Ventures is launching operations with a residency program that works much like known accelerators Antler and Y Combinator. This program, starting this October, will incubate some of the selected startups, availing them with all the resources that are essential for scaling up their operations in an effort to attain set business goals. Applications for the residency program are now open, commencing on Thursday and offer a path for innovative startups to attract Suzuki support and investment.

This will be part of a greater initiative of Suzuki to integrate corporate social responsibility along with business strategy to promote sustainable development through technology and innovation. This shows a focus from Suzuki towards critical societal challenges by investing not only in the creation of potential financial returns but also in the creation of shared value that will benefit the community and environment alike.

Suzuki’s venture into the startup ecosystem is not entirely unprecedented. In June 2023, Maruti Suzuki India, a Suzuki subsidiary, selected six startups for its nurture program organized in collaboration with IIM Calcutta Innovation Park. Some of the startups selected in this program were DriverShaab, Route2Jute, OiHelp, Hopun Innovations, Backyard Creators, and Salutem Ridegear. And proof that Suzuki never stops supporting innovations in the Indian entrepreneurial landscape. Further, in February this year, Maruti Suzuki India picked up a 6.44% stake in Amlgo Labs, again showing strategic investments the company has been making in young technologies and startups. 

This launch will be a major step for Next Bharat Ventures to engage with the startup ecosystem of India by providing investment, strategic leadership, and a growth platform from where Suzuki will be well poised to bring in significant changes in developing Indian early-stage startups. This is an initiative that underlines Suzuki’s other commitment: of active social impact and sustainable development and towards placing the company as a big part in shaping the future of innovation in India. With the first cohort set to begin its residency in October, the Indian startup ecosystem looks towards the churning ability of Suzuki’s Next Bharat Ventures.