At Nexus, a startup incubator in New Delhi, cutting-edge businesses are learning how to develop and protect innovative ideas.

Startup founder Suchin Jain, whose company Inoviea patented a solar panel cleaning system that doesn’t require water or moving parts, says that working with the Nexus incubator helped him develop and focus his business.

The 2019 Nexus startup class “was a great learning experience that fine-tuned my understanding of the start-up process,” Jain told SPAN magazine. He says the Nexus team guided and supported his startup efforts.

Nexus is a collaboration between U.S. Embassy New Delhi and the Alliance for Commercialization and Innovation Research (ACIR), a global nonprofit that supports economic development and growth through innovation.

The Nexus startup program brings “American best practices in entrepreneurship and incubation to India and links promising Indian startups with U.S. businesses,” says Erik Azulay, president of ACIR and manager of the Nexus program. ACIR is proud to be a part of “the U.S. Embassy’s commitment to supporting the Indian innovation ecosystem and joint U.S. Indian prosperity.”

At the incubator, startup founders undergo a nine-week intensive course that covers everything from developing ideas and securing financing to pitching their product to customers.

Person on rooftop handling solar panels (© Greenaperture/Shutterstock)
Solar panel installation in an Indian village. Inoviea’s patented technology can clean solar panels without using any water or moving parts. (© Greenaperture/Shutterstock)

Intellectual property is a key focus of the Nexus program. By giving people ownership of their ideas, intellectual property allows entrepreneurs to protect their inventions, artists to sell their work, and businesses to establish unique brands.

Intellectual property is a foundation of modern business. For World Intellectual Property Day, April 26, President Biden issued a proclamation highlighting the critical role “small businesses play in our society and the ways intellectual property can help support their continued growth and resilience.”

In addition to the Nexus program, the U.S. Embassy is committed to supporting innovation in India through its U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in New Delhi, which educates students, entrepreneurs and startups across India on intellectual property protection and how to use it to mitigate business risks.

Intellectual property training is crucial for startups, says Rahul Bagga, the managing director of Aumirah, an intellectual property analytics firm. Bagga mentors and trains startup founders as part of the Nexus program. He says when starting a business, founders have to make sure they understand their own rights and the rights of others.

During his trainings, Bagga addresses the rules of intellectual property systems in India, the United States and Europe, and how founders should protect their ideas under each system. He focuses on helping startups fit intellectual property into their broader business strategy and avoid getting overwhelmed by intellectual property issues.

Nexus isn’t trying to turn startup founders into “IP lawyers or professionals,” Bagga says. Rather, it’s trying to help startups make decisions and evaluate intellectual property as part of an overall plan.

Inoviea has already patented its solar panel cleaning technology in India and has applied for a U.S. patent.

Jain says Inoviea is growing at 100% year over year and has a positive cash flow. He says the Nexus program was “inspiring and gave me renewed focus to continue building on my passion for innovation.”

The Nexus program says it has assisted more than 150 Indian companies that have raised over $19 million in funding.

Nexus will launch its 14th cohort at the end of September 2021. In the past, the incubator has helped startups working in agriculture, educational technology, sustainability and artificial intelligence, among other areas.