Global Business Forum Will Be A Great Melting Pot For Collaboration: Brigade REAP’s Abhay Garg

In an exclusive conversation with Outlook Start-up, Abhay Garg, the Head & Chief Mentor of Brigade REAP shared his insights on the deep-tech subsectors that are expected to attract investments at the GBF 2024 and maximise value for the state’s new-age economy
New-age economy
New-age economy

In a first for India, the New York-based World Trade Centers Association (WTCA) and WTC Bengaluru are all set to host the 54th Global Business Forum (GBF), formerly called the “General Assembly”, in Bengaluru between March 3-6, 2024. The GBF is the Association’s premier event, gathering representatives from Member WTC businesses and leaders in business, government, and international organisations.

The theme for this edition of the event is ‘EPIC: Empowering Progress through Innovation & Collaboration’, which aims to showcase the region’s economic potential, particularly Karnataka which has often been referred to as the Silicon Valley of India.

The event is expected to witness partnerships being forged and the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) across 12 diverse sectors including tech startups, aviation, biotech, construction and information technology. In an exclusive conversation with Outlook Start-up, Abhay Garg, the Head & Chief Mentor of Brigade REAP (Real Estate Accelerator Program) shared his insights on the deep-tech subsectors that are expected to attract investments at the GBF 2024 and maximise value for the state’s new-age economy.

Could you tell us how this year’s Global Business Forum (GBF) will impact India’s deep-tech trajectory?

I think it's (GBF) a great melting pot for collaboration and learning. This is one area which is geography agnostic, as you can implement it across the world at scale. For instance, if Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) crack a problem for visualisation or sales in a microenvironment, then that experience will be similar for somebody sitting in South Africa, Brazil or the USA. And that is where GBF plays a crucial role in bringing all the stakeholders into one room where we can learn from each other and collaborate. There can be an import and export of ideas, technologies and business models. Although business models might be tweaked a little in various geographies, that doesn’t bother (me). What bothers me is the customer adoption. If there is customer adoption, then monetisation and models will follow. And if we can prove that adoption has happened in a certain context in a certain geography, that's where GBF helps deep-tech.

What kind of collaborations can be expected in the deep-tech sector during the upcoming GBF?

I think there will be a lot of B2B opportunities which will mean two things: at the GBF, there will be business and money. You will have contracts or MOUs and opportunities to (form) joint ventures or partners and to take your product or service (across borders). And then, as a complement, you will have financing opportunities via equity, debt or other structured instruments. For the expansion of business, besides capital, I think what is underrated is manpower.

What potential does the GBF promise in terms of opportunities for hiring talent? 

We (India) are after all the lowest cost manpower when it is adjusted for intellectual capacity. There might be other people out there but when you adjust it, I think we will also be exporters for manpower. I see a big wave coming, like we did with the software exports and IT exports. That is why I say deep-tech for India is going to be even employment accretive, because just like software was or is, this will create opportunities for companies not just to export products, but to also export manpower. So, those are the areas where I think the GBF will be a melting pot.

Which sub-sectors under deep-tech are likely to attract investment and see partnerships being forged?

At least in the urban tech space, sustainability is a big area. Looking at sustainability from an environmental standpoint, we have companies that are using plastic and waste to create building materials, construction technology and manufacturing technology. 

Another area is expanding sales experience through virtual or augmented reality, and 3D. And this is not just for sales, but also for manufacturing. We see a lot of 3D applications in auto, real estate construction and sales. If I can visualise my project execution or what my house will look like with certain interiors, I think those are areas which are continuing to see a lot of action. We will also see action in the marketplaces segment, because that is where deep-tech will help analyse data. We are in the process of exploring acceleration and investment across marketplaces, which are helping discover buyers, suppliers and pricing.

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