In a move which could pave a new wave of ideas and innovation into the Indian startup industry, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently announced that she is considering putting together a SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) country meet for startups.

Speaking at the recent launch of startup India hub portal, which is an online platform for all stakeholders to discover, connect and engage with each other, Sitharaman said that the event can prove to be a great platform for the SAARC countries startups to come together, brainstorm and exchange new ideas for innovations, which can be mutually beneficial and can be put into action.

"I will be working towards having a SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) country meet for startups. There are so many complementarities among us in the South Asian region," said Sitharaman at the launch of Startup India Virtual Hub event.

For the uninitiated, SAARC's member countries includes Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives and Pakistan.

Sitharaman is also taking the help of some Indian startups in making the event possible. She has asked the startups to provide them ideas about who all should be invited from the SAARC countries for the meet. The Commerce and Industry Ministry is expecting to receive their answers in a month or two, and if everything goes according to the ministry's plan, India could be hosting the event in December itself.

At the launch event held in New Delhi, Sitharaman also shared that she has also been writing to all the Members of Parliament to encourage entrepreneurship in the country and help the industry progress from being the third largest startup ecosystem in the world to the numero uno position very soon.

In addition to the Startup India Virtual Hub, the Commerce and Industry Ministry is currently also planning on working in a few districts in the country to identify schools, which will be helped by the Ministry itself in qualifying to get tinkering labs for their respective schools under the Atal Innovation Mission.

Sitharaman also added that the ministry is currently in the midst of ironing out certain details to facilitate a meet between startups in Germany and India, similar on the lines of the SAARC meet.

The Startup India Virtual Hub unveiled yesterday in New Delhi is a marketplace where all the stakeholders can interact, exchange knowledge, and enable each other to grow and reach new heights. The hub is an attempt by the Ministry solve the persistent problem of information asymmetry and lack of access to knowledge, tools, experts, especially in the nascent ecosystems across Tier II and III towns in the country.

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