New Delhi: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the US and India to enhance innovation ecosystems through an innovation handshake.

The 5th India-US Commercial Dialogue was held on March 10 during the visit of US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo between March 8-10.

During the meeting, the Commercial Dialogue was re-launched with a strategic focus on supply chain resiliency, climate and clean technology cooperation, advancing inclusive digital economy, and facilitating post-pandemic economic recovery, particularly SMEs and start-ups, according to Cabinet's press release.

It included the launch of a new Working Group on talent, innovation and inclusive growth (TIIG) under the Commercial Dialogue. The Working Group will also support the efforts of startups working towards the goals of iCET, especially in identifying specific regulatory hurdles to cooperation and fostering greater connectivity between our innovation ecosystems with a focus on start-ups through specific ideas for joint activities, according to Cabinet's press release.

US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June welcomed efforts to establish an "Innovation Handshake" that shall connect the two sides' dynamic startup ecosystems, address specific regulatory hurdles to cooperation, and promote innovation and job growth, particularly in critical and emerging technologies (CET).

In order to formalize the cooperation under the Innovation handshake and implement the guidance, a government-to-government MoU has been signed between India and the US on Innovation Handshake in San Francisco on November 14.

In the press release, the Cabinet stated, "The scope of cooperation would include a series of India-US Innovation Handshake events, round tables with private sector, including hackathon and "Open Innovation" programs, information sharing and other activities."

It added, "The MoU laid the groundwork for two future Innovation Handshake events scheduled to take place in India and the United States in early 2024, which include an investment forum aimed toward helping US and Indian start-up companies take their innovative ideas and products to market and a "hackathon" in Silicon Valley where US and Indian start-ups will pitch ideas and technologies to help address global economic challenges." The MoU will contribute to strengthening commercial opportunities in the high-tech sector.

Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal and his US counterpart Gina Raimondo led an industry roundtable and officially launched the two countries' ambitious "Innovation Handshake" agenda, which President Biden and Prime Minister Modi previewed during the Prime Minister's historic June 2023 official State Visit earlier this year.

At the event, co-hosted by the US-India Business Council and the Confederation of Indian Industry, CEOs from major information and communication technology companies, executives from venture capital firms, and founders of startups in the critical and emerging technology space discussed how to enhance US-India technology collaboration.

During the event, Raimondo said, "Through the Innovation Handshake, the United States and India are forging a critical tech partnership that will further strengthen our interconnected innovation ecosystem."

"This is an important step to bolster the US-India commercial relationship and I look forward to building on this progress with Minister Goyal to help US and Indian workers and businesses succeed," she added.

Meanwhile, Piyush Goyal said, "The Innovation Handshake signals a joint commitment to strengthen the startup ecosystem and promote cooperation in Critical and Emerging Technologies between India and the United States."

He added, "Signing an MoU to Enhance Innovation Ecosystems through an Innovation Handshake is an important step in growing the India-US partnership for the 21st century."