Its Raining Funds for Mining Startups: Mines Ministry Unveils S&T-PRISM

The Union Ministry of Mines introduces S&T-PRISM, funding startups and MSMEs in mining. How will the scheme bridge financial gaps, promote innovation, and support research? To delve into the details, read the full article.

Swati Dayal
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In a significant move towards fostering innovation and research in the mining sector, the Union Ministry of Mines has decided to fund the startups and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) into mining, mineral processing, metallurgy, and recycling sector (S&T-PRISM). According to Traxcn, there are around101 Mining startups in India.

The Ministry has introduced the Science and Technology for Promotion of Research Innovation in Startups and MSMEs called as S&T-PRISM initiative. The Ministry has come out with the guidelines for the scheme to provide financial support for research and innovation projects in the related sectors.

Funding Guidelines and Eligibility Criteria

Under the S&T-PRISM initiative, the Ministry will welcome proposals from startups, MSMEs, and individual innovators directly impacting the minerals sector. The funding, with a duration of up to two years, will be extended to projects that have reached at least the "Proof of Concept (POC)" level. Financial support will be provided in the form of grants, and the implementing agency will collaborate with venture funds for additional funding opportunities.

Bridging the Gap for Startups

The primary objective of the funding scheme is to bridge the financial support gap experienced by technology-driven startups in their initial phases. By providing seed support, the Ministry aims to assist promising startups in progressing to a stage where they can attract investments from angel investors or venture capitalists, or secure loans from commercial banks and financial institutions.

Seamless Transition from Development to Commercialization

The funding mechanism serves as a crucial bridge between the development and commercialization of innovative technologies, products, and services. This strategic approach is designed to facilitate a smoother transition for startups from concept to market-ready solutions.

Implementing Agency and Mentorship Support

The Jawaharlal Nehru Aluminium Research Development and Design Center (JNARDDC) in Nagpur, operating under the administrative control of the Ministry of Mines, will serve as the implementing agency for S&T-PRISM. Selected startups and MSMEs will receive mentorship and incubation support, along with technical advisory assistance during the project development period and an additional two year post-technical completion.

Focus Areas of S&T-PRISM

The initiative emphasizes the translation of research into technology, focusing on strategic areas such as prospecting for rare and rare earth minerals, new technology development for mineral exploration and mining, and research in mining methods. The goal is to enhance efficiency in processes, promote environmental protection, and ensure mine safety.

Pilot Opportunities and Procurement Support

Startups and MSMEs will have the opportunity for piloting their projects in the mining, mineral processing, metallurgy, and recycling sectors. The proposal review process involves the Apex Committee, and successful projects will be presented on a 'Demo Day' to corporate representatives from relevant sectors.

The Ministry of Mines also aims to support the market viability of products and services developed by startups and MSMEs under S&T-PRISM. By collaborating with Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), the Ministry plans to secure educational orders and facilitate technology trials, aligning with the Public Procurement Policy for Micro and Small Enterprises (MSMEs).

Incubator Support

To further promote innovation, the Ministry has allocated grants of up to Rs. 10 crores for the establishment and strengthening of each Incubation Centre. This financial support underscores the commitment to nurturing a conducive environment for startups and MSMEs to thrive in the mining sector.

The S&T-PRISM initiative will play a pivotal role in fostering innovation, sustainability, and economic growth in the mining sector, while providing crucial support to startups and MSMEs on their journey from ideation to commercial success.

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