The total number of start-ups in India recognised by the Commerce and Industry ministry under its flagship initiative for fostering entrepreneurship and promoting innovation has gone up to an impressive 44,766 as of March 14 this year, according to official figures tabled in Parliament on Friday.

The country's industrial heartland Maharashtra tops the list among states with 8,353 startups as the Mumbai-Pune belt is a major hub. Karnataka, which is home to India's silicon city Bengaluru, comes at the second spot with as many as 5,999 startups, while Delhi is ranked third with 5,587. Next on the list is UP accounting for 3,880 startups as its industrial hub Noida, adjoining Delhi, has made rapid progress in recent years.

Gujarat figures at the 5th spot with 2,622 startups and Haryana, where Gurugram is located comes at the 6th position with 2,495. Telengana has been ranked 7th as Hyderabad has been doing well followed by Tamil Nadu at the 8th spot as its capital Chennai is a prominent entrepreneurial centre.

The Government's Startup India flagship scheme had been launched in January, 2016 to create an ecosystem conducive for the growth of startups. Many IT startups came up on their own even before the scheme was launched and have grown to become Unicorns (valuation of $1 billion and above). These ventures also highlighted the scope for such projects and with the government stepping in to provide easier access to finance and facilities, the movement has accelerated, a senior official said.

Government-backed IITs have played a key role in this regard and helped youngsters with out-of-the box ideas to put cutting edge technology to practical use. The incubation centres set up at various IITs like Delhi have contributed significantly to the growth of startups.

India is home to 100 unicorns across sectors which are collectively valued at over $240 billion, according to a report released by Swiss brokerage firm Credit Suisse on Tuesday. These unicorns are across industries, beyond technology and tech-enabled sectors as well and include pharmaceuticals, and consumer goods, Credit Suisse India equity strategist Neelkanth Mishra said.

The unicorns also include the education sector which companies such as Byju's growing exponentially during the pandemic. Energy, logistics and industrials are the other sectors in which startups have started making their mark.

Mishra said two-thirds of the 100 unicorns in India came into being after 2005 and added that among the listed companies' universe, there are 336 stocks commanding a market capitalisation of over $1 billion.

From an enabling perspective, he said the shortage of risk capital is also being addressed by private equity funds which have upped their play and also exceeded public issues, while telecom and infrastructure connectivity have also helped. The financial technology (fintech) firms are among the leaders in the unicorn club, with five start-ups valued at over $22 billion, the brokerage said.

Future Prospects
According to Credit Suisse, from a future perspective, the software as a service (SaaS) sector is one of the most attractive ones as Indian IT makes the leap to being a products-led story from being a service delivery-led one.

There are over 7,000 SaaS companies in India now and the growth has been enabled by vast availability of IT trained professionals, low economical cost of business set up, increased adoption of digital technology and increased availability of funding.

Mishra said the education technology sector will also show a good interest, and the Edtech market in India is expected to grow five times by 2025 to $4 billion.