ONGC-backed startup ecosystem comes up with solutions for energy sector

What is common to String Bio, Chakr Innovation and StrautX Technologies?

These are three of 15 startups that have come out of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC)’s startup fund.

ONGC has so far committed Rs 61.31 crore out of its Rs 100 crore corpus startup fund to encourage innovation in the energy sector and back solutions for the energy industry.

ONGC Startup Fund – started in 2016 – is in the process of getting the current valuations of the invested startups by an IBBI-registered valuer, said ONGC’s interim chairman Rajesh Kumar Srivastava.

“Those startups that have been working on innovative ideas are located across the country…and have been successful in their respective ventures,” Srivastava told ET.

ONGC supports startups in the early stages and has made a maximum investment of Rs 5 crore in a few, he added.

Bengaluru-based String Bio converts methane to edible proteins for aqua and poultry feed ingredients. Pune-based Chakr Innovation captures particulate matter from the exhaust of diesel engines to reduce pollution, by converting carbon monoxide and HO into water and carbon dioxide, thus keeping carbon footprint to a minimum. StrautX Technologies captures solar thermal energy as hot air in a ceramic heat exchanger and a Stirling engine converts the heat energy into electricity.

In addition, the fund has also backed startups such as Bengaluru-based Sparkyo Technology, Mumbai-based Sagar Defence Engineering and Chennai-based Planys Technologies.

The Rs 100 crore startup fund was launched in ONGC’s diamond jubilee year to nurture, foster and incubate new ideas related to the oil and gas sector, Srivastava told ET.

As part of this initiative, ONGC will provide the entire support chain for startups including seed capital, handholding, mentoring, market linkage and follow ups.

The aim is to increase the contribution of fresh implementable ideas in the oil and gas sector.

This initiative will promote entrepreneurship among the younger generation by creating an ecosystem that is conducive for growth of startups in the oil and gas sector, which has a huge potential for technology-enabled ideas.

For instance, String Bio has developed a technology for converting methane to edible protein. While edible protein for animal nutrition and agriculture use has been developed, product development and validation for human nutrition are under progress.

Aimed at decarbonization, it works with waste gases on the supply side to substitute for products like meat for human nutrition, and strong chemicals in the agriculture sector, and offers substitutes that are sustainable.

It was recently awarded India’s first microbial bio-stimulant patent.

The organic product has been tested in 20 states on 40 crops and seen a yield increase of 15% to 40%. A plant is being set up to scale up production of these products.

ONGC had invested Rs 4.5 crore in 2019 during String Bio’s seed funding round.

In a funding round earlier this year, the startup managed to raise $20 million (Rs 150 crore), from various investors including India and Australia-based investors.

“Globally, more than 1.1 billion tonnes of animal feed are produced annually for the nutrition of both livestock and pets. This puts pressure on naturally available resources. The feed industry is dependent on more than 75% of soy and 65% of the total fish harvested globally to maintain its output,” Vinod Kumar, co-founder and managing director of String Bio, told ET.

String’s proprietary fermentation process allows for the conversion of a greenhouse gas like methane in protein. Its products in the pipeline have amino acids and minerals to fulfil nutrient requirements of the animal.

“Our products bring in benefits to animals, the feed, manufacturers, and farmers. We aim to bring about a shift in how the industry views nutrition by reducing dependency on plant and animal proteins,” Kumar said.

Chakr Innovation also recently launched a dual fuel kit and a type-approved retrofit emission control device (RECD) which will allow users to run their DG sets for two hours even during the winter season.

It is said to be the first company in India to get the type approval certification from the Central Pollution Control Board’s recommended lab for RECD to be installed on diesel generators.

Source: Economic Times

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