4 Types Of Startup Incubators Every Founder Should Know

Image Source: T Hub

Startup incubators play a key role in nurturing and scaling ideas. The primary task of an incubator is to drive entrepreneurial spirit and be a mainstay of economic development. The Indian Government has put technological growth and advancement in emergent technologies at the heart of its agenda. High-growth and innovative businesses are a part of their economic agenda. In this article, we list down key incubators that are playing a pivotal role in business development, building startup ecosystem and sustainable value creation.

This is not an exhaustive list of incubators across India, but slots top programs across the four main categories

  1. Government
  2. University-backed
  3. Corporate
  4. Private.

Government-Supported Incubators In India

Startup India: This is Government of India’s most famous startup initiative. Startup India promotes tech entrepreneurship through mentoring and funding. Since its launch in January 2016, the initiative has successfully incubated several startups. The programme also provides a comprehensive four-week free online learning program with dedicated research parks, incubators and startup centres across the country. A key feature of the initiative is the ‘Fund of Funds’ to help startups gain access to funding. At the core of the initiative is the effort to build an ecosystem in which startups can scale effectively with facilities such as online recognition of startups, Startup India Learning Programme, facilitated patent filing, easy compliance norms, incubator support and innovation focused programmes for students, funding support, tax benefits and addressing of regulatory issues.

T-Hub: The country’s major incubator, T-Hub by Telangana government has incubated 346 startups so far, a report indicates. Pegged as a startup engine, T-Hub has played a crucial role in bringing entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and mentors onto a single platform. T-Hub has catalyzed Hyderabad into a startup capital.


NSRCEL: This is one of the most well-known and oldest business incubators in India that is open to all entrepreneurs , across sectors, domains, and industries. This incubator provides an ecosystem for development activities and also empowers entrepreneurs through academic research.

CIIE: One of India’s leading innovation centre, IIM Ahmedabad’s Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) CIIE provides significant seed-fund and incubation support to aspiring entrepreneurs in IT, cleantech, healthcare and education space. In its effort to establish a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem in India, CIIE has conceptualised and partnered with several initiatives like INFUSE, Power of Ideas, iAccelerator, Stay Hungry Stay Foolish, MentorEdge among other.

Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE): Another big tech incubator from IIIT Hyderabad, CIE has incubated 250 startups in the last few years and is now focusing on deep tech startups to strengthen the deep tech startup ecosystem in India. According to a recent news report, CIE is now looking to kick-start domain specific accelerators that focus on emergent technologies like machine learning, AI and VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration).


Khosla Labs: Vinod Khosla and Srikanth Nadhamuni founded Bengaluru-based Khosla Labs is a startup incubator that focuses on startups working on financial inclusion and retail solutions. The incubator’s motto is “Ideate, Prototype, Validate and Launch”. The projects get prototyped through their in-house design and pilot tested. Some of the startups incubated have been in the area of mobile banking, machine learning and retail. Novopay that provides retail and banking solutions is one such startup incubated at Khosla Labs.

Wadhwani Centre for Entrepreneurship Development: Set up in 2008, this initiative aims at bolstering the tech entrepreneurship in India and is headquartered in ISB Hyderabad. Some of the key startups incubated at WCED are Richcore Lifesciences and Orkash.


10,000 Startups: Hosted by NASSCOM, this initiative aims to incubate, fund and support 10,000 technology startups in India. Google for Entrepreneurs is also a founding partner of this initiative and provides key mentorship, Google training resources on how to scale startups globally. NASSCOM floated the now famous FAME model to scale startups — Funding, Acceleration, Mentoring, and Enterprise that gives startups the opportunity to network with key stakeholders.

SAP Labs India: In 2016, SAP Labs India launched its Startup Accelerator Program to drive entrepreneurship and tech development in India. Since its inception, SAP Labs India has already hosted startups like, logistics solutions provider Blubirch, Ecolibrium Energy, a provider of energy management solutions among others. In addition to this accelerator, SAP also has a 75 seat incubation lab, Startup Studio at the SAP Labs campus in Bengaluru, that nurtures early/disruptive stage tech big data and IoT startups. The startups are incubated for one year and are backed by a robust mentorship program that extends beyond their first year.

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Richa Bhatia
Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.

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