As India’s only coral island chain, with a lagoon area of approximately 4,200 Sq. Kms, territorial waters of 20,000 Sq. Km, Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 4,00,000 Sq. Kms and coastal line of about 132 Kms, Lakshadweep’s failure, thus far, to attract investors and start-ups to its shores is largely a consequence of the region’s remoteness and inaccessibility. But that could change.

In January, 2024, Prime Minister Narendra Modi triggered a rush to the region primarily from the tourism perspective after his visit to the serene archipelago. But tranquility, beauty and peace are not the only drawing factors. He also hinted at the unique and rewarding benefits the islands offer to eco-friendly business ideas.

A huge part of the population in Lakshadweep depends on the fishery resources for livelihood. Currently, Lakshadweep records over 21,016 Tonnes of annual production of fish, which is only about 21% of the total fishable potential. However, integration of technology in the fisheries sector can potentially raise the percentage, and as a consequence, the standard of local lives. Rajat Khare, founder of venture capital firm, Luxembourg-based Boundary Holding, is optimistic that deep-tech start-ups that can enhance fishing, tourism and transport will transform this region and accelerate its viability as a major economic hub in Indian Ocean Region (IoR).

“Precision fishing is the future and deep tech companies can help find fish more effectively. Sonar technology with Artificial Intelligence (AI) can create underwater maps, identify fish schools, and even estimate their size. This allows fishermen to target specific catches, reducing wasted time and fuel, and minimising bycatch – unwanted marine life accidentally caught in nets. The harmonization of solar ferries, software analytics, satellite data, cold storage and transport, and precision fishing methods is primed to accelerate island development significantly,” said Mr. Khare.

He added: “Solar ferries provide eco-friendly transportation, while software analytics furnish critical insights for decision-making. Satellite data facilitates precise resource mapping and environmental monitoring, complemented by robust cold storage infrastructure ensuring food security,” said Mr. Khare.The establishment of resilient cold storage and transport infrastructure is expected to shore up the island’s food security, ensuring the efficient preservation and distribution of perishable goods.

The local government of the Union Territory (UT) has helped entrepreneurs through programs, like the Lakshadweep Startup Support Program (LSSP) and the Lakshadweep Startup Summit. These programs offer aspiring entrepreneurs and start-ups help, advice, and chances to meet new people and relevant stakeholders. A number of start-ups in the fisheries sector across India could soon be setting shop in Lakshadweep.

InCEve, an internet-of-Things (IoT)-based sonar device, helps fishermen use the right technology and capture the right information to catch fish schools. Bengaluru-based InCEve Technologies assists fishermen to see where the fish are, how the fish school is moving, its size, and other parameters to optimize their time at sea. Kanyakumari-based Odaku Online Services Private Limited has come up with an affordable SaaS (software-as-a-service) product that can provide navigation as well as analytics with cloud support. The app has several other features, like weather alerts.

Navalt Green Mobility is at the forefront of solar-powered electric ships, offering a diverse range of watercraft from boats to ferries fueled by clean solar energy and Li-ion batteries. They develop advanced propulsion and energy solutions for ships, alongside port and fleet management services. A notable achievement includes launching India’s first solar ferry, ADITYA, in 2017, marking a significant step towards sustainable maritime transportation. Aquasat, a product of full-stack aquaculture platform, Aquaconnect, uses Artificial Intelligence and Satellite remote sensing to bring transparency and efficiency into the aquaculture value chain.

Recently, Captain Fresh, a B2B fish and seafood tech startup, secured $25 million in funding from British International Investment, Nekkanti Seafoods Group, and select family offices Tech start-ups are also scaling their innovations to prevent Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, a major threat to fish stocks. In the coming years, Lakshadweep will witness stiff competition to create a foothold in the region for both investors and start-ups. Because Lakshadweep has limited landscape and population, the right time to capitalize is now.