US-based cab hailing company Uber is considering a plan to incubate startups in India that will help in solving mobility and transport problems as part of its strategy to turn India into a laboratory of the world, for global research and development (R&D).
Additionally, the world’s most valuable company with valuation of $75+ billion, Uber is also all set to make India the global capital of its research & development (R&D) activities. With 10 R&D centres across the world, Uber’s India R&D unit is only one in Asia.
For its R&D centres at Hyderabad and Bengaluru, Uber will double the counts of its engineering team by next year.
Apurva Dalal, head of engineering, Uber India, said in a statement to Business Standard, “We want to find the best talent in an innovative way to solve the problems of mobility and transportation. We are definitely considering incubating many start-ups within Uber in the future and have some kind of incubation model. We are looking at doubling our R&D team in 2019 and this could be in the thousands,” said
To solve mobility and transportation problems of both India and other countries, Uber was trying to create ‘R&D muscle’ in India to make it the laboratory of the world, with charters to solve global as well as emerging market problems.
As part of this strategy, Apurva said that the company had been reasonably successful in persuading Indians in the US to come back and work in India.
One of the disruptive innovation which is product of UBer’s R&D centres at Bengaluru and Hyderabad is ‘Uber Lite’, an app that is 85 % lighter than the original Uber app. Developed in India, Uber Lite is now catering to users in several emerging markets where there are connectivity issues and poor data rates, and where consumers mostly use low-end Android devices with limited storage.
According to a feedback data, in countries like India, Brazil, Mexico, and much of Africa, 70% of the sessions on Uber were happening on low-end Android phones. The Uber Lite app, first launched in India in July’18, is now being rolled out in 14 more countries in Latin America, Egypt, West Asia, and Africa.
To recall, in February this year, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi was on India tour and during his visit he met several Indian government officials, regulators and the company employees. In his visit, Khosrowshahi met India’s Minister of State for Civil Aviation, and talked about possible partnerships between the Uber and India, including a flying car collaboration.
Uber was said to be working with 6-7 different vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft and sees big potential for flying taxis in India.
Regarding incubating and mentoring startups in India, Uber already has ‘UberEXCHANGE’, a startup mentorship & investment programme launched in 2016 in partnership with government of India’s investment promotion agency Invest India. In last two years, over 150 startups have been mentored by Uber’s senior leadership team. However, incubation of Indian startups will be something new that company will bring to India.
According to Business Standard report, Uber is now testing a new service “call to ride”, which is also developed in India and is meant for consumers such as elderly people who do not want to use apps at all and want to pay in cash.
In this system, riders merely have to call Uber on the phone and give details of their location and what kind of car they want.
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