S02 E03: Connecting the Dots for Catalytic Capital


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Agriculture forms a significant bulk of the Indian workforce, with over half of our workforce dependent on the sector. Relentless urbanization notwithstanding, low and middle-income countries like India will have to nurture their rural populations’ agricultural contribution in the coming years to feed all of us sustainably. The potential to leverage agricultural output and biodiversity for new, exciting sectors like alternative protein is immense. But without the necessary infrastructure or investment, entrepreneurs can find themselves face to face with a valley of death between product innovation and commercialization. This just ends up crippling momentum and blunts opportunities in emerging sectors. Today’s guest on Feeding 10 Billion, Hemendra Mathur, is a Venture Partner at Bharat Innovation Fund and Co-Founder of corporate innovation platform ThinkAg. Hemendra has successfully built pathways among what he calls the pancha tatva (five essential ingredients of any ecosystem) of government, industry, R&D, investors or incubation, and entrepreneurs to forge patient, ecosystem-enabling, “catalytic capital” for vital sectors like agri-technology. We talk to Hemendra about how we can replicate this success with ecosystem building for alternative protein.


Companies & Organisations Mentioned:


Bharat Innovation Fund

Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR)

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)


Catalytic Capital falls on the impact investing end of the spectrum of investment, just shy of philanthropic grants and is often used to fill gaps for impact enterprises and facilitate additional investment.

From Tideline's Catalytic Capital: Unlocking More Investment and Impact. Adapted from Barby, C.; Pederson, M. (2014)


Several states amend the Mandi and APMC Act during lockdown to enable farmers to sell 46 fruits and vegetables directly without the Mandi. (Source: Business Standard)

2017 - the inflection year for Indian Agtech, by Hemendra Mathur, YourStory

Patient capital a must for deep-tech funds and startups: Hemendra Mathur, Bharat Innovation Fund, TechCircle

How "Zomatoisation" will impact Indian food supply chain? by Hemendra Mathur, Inc42

How Indian agritech can help address climate risks by Hemendra Mathur, AgFunderNews

Indian Agritech: Accelerate the Adoption of Agritech Innovations By Enabling the Ecosystem, by Hemendra Mathur, AgFunderNews

Indians are protein deficient, and it needs immediate attention, Forbes India

Further Reading Material:

The Future of Protein Summit 2019, Panel on “What does it take to create a conducive environment for scale-up of new protein companies?” Featuring Hemendra Mathur, YouTube

20 episodes