ONGC news: ONGC-backed startup ecosystem offers solutions for the energy sector

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What do String Bio, Chakr Innovation and StrautX Technologies have in common?

These are three of the 15 startups spun off from the start-up fund of the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).

The ONGC has so far committed Rs 61.31 crore from its Rs 100 crore corpus seed fund to encourage innovation in the energy sector and support solutions for the energy industry .

ONGC Startup Fund – launched in 2016 – is in the process of obtaining current valuations of invested startups by an IBBI-registered evaluator, ONGC Acting Chairman Rajesh Kumar Srivastava said.

“These startups that have been working on innovative ideas are located across the country…and have been successful in their respective businesses,” Srivastava told ET.

ONGC is supporting startups in the early stages and has made a maximum investment of Rs 5 crore in a few, he added.

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String Bio, based in Bengaluru, converts methane into edible protein for water and poultry feed ingredients. Chakr Innovation, based in Pune, captures particulate matter from diesel engine exhaust to reduce pollution, by converting carbon monoxide and HO into water and carbon dioxide, thereby minimizing the carbon footprint. StrautX Technologies captures solar thermal energy in the form of hot air in a ceramic heat exchanger and a Stirling engine converts the thermal energy into electricity.

In addition, the fund has also backed startups such as Bengaluru-based Sparkyo Technology, Mumbai-based Sagar Defense Engineering, and Chennai-based Planys Technologies.

The Rs 100 crore seed fund was launched in the year of ONGC’s Diamond Jubilee to nurture, foster and incubate new ideas related to the oil and gas sector, Srivastava told ET.

Under this initiative, ONGC will provide the full chain of support for startups, including seed capital, ownership, mentoring, market linkages and follow-ups.

The aim is to increase the contribution of new and feasible ideas in the oil and gas sector.

This initiative will foster entrepreneurship among the younger generation by creating an ecosystem conducive to the growth of startups in the oil and gas sector, which harbors enormous potential for technology-based ideas.

For example, String Bio has developed technology to convert methane into edible protein. While edible proteins for animal feed and agriculture have been developed, the development and validation of products for human consumption are ongoing.

Aiming at decarbonization, it works with supply-side waste gases to replace products like meat for human consumption and harsh chemicals in agriculture, and offers sustainable substitutes.

He recently obtained India’s first microbial biostimulant patent.

The biologic has been tested in 20 states on 40 crops and has seen a yield increase of 15% to 40%. A factory is being set up to increase the production of these products.

ONGC had invested Rs 4.5 crore in 2019 during String Bio’s seed funding round.

In a funding round earlier this year, the startup managed to raise $20 million (Rs 150 crore), from various investors including Indian and Australian investors.

“Globally, more than 1.1 billion tonnes of animal feed is produced each year for feeding livestock and pets. This puts pressure on naturally available resources. The animal feed industry depends on more than 75% of soybeans and 65% of the total fish harvested worldwide to maintain its production,” Vinod Kumar, co-founder and managing director of String Bio, told AND.

String’s proprietary fermentation process converts a greenhouse gas like methane into protein. Its products under development contain amino acids and minerals to meet the nutritional needs of the animal.

“Our products bring benefits to animals, feedstuffs, manufacturers and farmers. Our goal is to bring about a change in the way the industry views nutrition by reducing reliance on plant and animal protein,” Kumar said.

Chakr Innovation has also recently launched a Bi-Fuel Kit and Certified Retrofit Emission Control Device (RECD) that will allow users to run their DG sets for two hours even during the winter season.

It is said to be the first company in India to obtain type approval certification from the laboratory recommended by the Central Pollution Control Board for RECD to be installed on diesel generators.

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