- India had about 400 million smartphone users in 2017, which is expected to double to about 800 million smartphone users in 2022. This opens up a huge opportunity for data-hungry AI startups to build solutions for this growing market.
- Due to its diversity, training your models in India gives you the opportunity to accelerate your startup’s ability to replicate the same results in Asia or Africa, which holds the next six billion of the world’s rising population.
Artificial Intelligence is not intelligence per say. It’s the simple automation of chores such as identifying a cat in a picture. The difference is that, earlier, we coded and defined what pattern (fur, cuteness?) one should look for in a picture to identify it as a cat. Whereas now, we let the computer figure out the necessary patterns from millions of cat pictures.
The reason we hear a lot of AI nowadays is because of the cambrian explosion of data abundance. In this article, we will focus on the abundance of data in India.
With a population of 1.3 billion, India had about 400 million smartphone users in 2017, which is expected to double to about 800 million smartphone users in 2022 . This, coupled with an average of 12.5 GB of mobile data traffic per month (5x from 2017), opens up a huge opportunity for data-hungry AI startups to build solutions for this growing market.
The Indian government recognized this early on and created the infrastructure to make better use of this data;
- First comes the IDENTITY, the foundation for validating the existence of a real user to validate all digital transactions. For this, India created the ‘Aadhaar’ network which today is the world’s largest biometric ID system. World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer, described it as ‘the most sophisticated ID programme in the world’.
- The next step was to universalize and validate the digital payments. For this, a Unified Payments Interface (UPI) was created as an instant real-time payment system. Developed by National Payments Corporation of India and regulated by the Reserve Bank of India, today this interbank system has 142 banks live on UPI with a monthly volume of 799.54 million transactions and a value of ₹1.334 trillion (US$19 billion)
- With the basic infrastructure ready and running for billions, next up is the host of complex infrastructure layers that can ensure the smooth functioning of Aadhaar and UPI. The government of India is currently developing the INDIA STACK, which is a set of APIs that allow government organizations, businesses, startups and developers to utilize a unique digital infrastructure to solve India’s hard problems towards presenceless, paperless, and cashless service delivery
Abundance of data is not the only criteria for AI startups to proliferate in India. Veteran AI investors say that the level of data diversity in India is unparalleled. With 28 states having multiple regional languages, cultures and value sets, the ethnic diversity in India is comparable to that of Europe. Imagine keeping India as an early-stage AI startup base and training your models here. It could be anything from self driving cars to healthcare technology. It would give you the opportunity to accelerate your startup’s ability to replicate the same results in Asia or Africa, which holds the next six billion of the worlds rising population.
Let’s take the example of the Swiss AI startup, Deep Cube, which is developing AI technologies for real time medical diagnosis. With an unprecedented AI model accuracy of 91-99% and in the process of partnering with a few Swiss hospitals, Deepcube is a rising startup. They are currently closing A-Series funding and planning to enter the Indian Healthcare market in the coming months. Matt Morawski, BDO and Co-Founder, on asked why Deepcube chose to come to India, said,
Our skin AI model needs to have access to diverse data for different varieties/types/colours of skin. Also, India is one of the top 3 world wide biggest markets, and therefore it’s very significant that we need to learn our AI models with Indian data.
A vibrant startup ecosystem, language diversity, strong IT services, etc are some other factors that give India a distinct advantage over other countries. International players choosing to lay the foundation of their AI startups in India will be well placed to benefit from the tremendous growth predicted in this sector.