India and Germany boast strong startup ecosystems and in both countries, the trends in new and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) are exciting and seen as a game changer: Indian AI and analytics start-ups attracted US $ 762.5 million in funding in 2019 and German AI startups experienced 12% growth in 2021 with more than 60% of AI focused startups having investment rounds of more than US $ 1 million.

In addition to the vibrant startup landscape, the Indian and the German AI strategies have many commonalities and overlap in the goals and recommendations specifically with regards to improving the conditions for local AI innovation, open source AI training datasets, and emphasis on policy frameworks for ethical and responsible AI. The Indo-German joint statement as part of the Inter-Governmental Consultations in November 2019 was a milestone in strengthening the Indo-German partnership in artificial intelligence.

The FAIR Forward: AI for All initiative, launched by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), aims for an open, inclusive and sustainable approach to AI and India is one of the key partner countries.

In the lifecycle of an AI application for the design and development of an AI system or service, the annotated datasets play the most important role. It is estimated that 75 to 80 percent of the time and effort must be invested in data acquisition and annotation to ensure good quality and meet the requirements for training a particular machine learning model. Data scientists spend about 15 to 20 percent of their time building AI models and designing algorithms. As a result, annotated datasets remain one of the biggest challenges in accelerating innovation in AI. The FAIR Forward initiative addresses this fundamental problem and invests in removing barriers to AI innovation by supporting the creation of open AI training datasets for voice  technologies and earth observation.

FAIR Forward has recently released a Handbook on Data Protection & Data Privacy for Artificial Intelligence (AI) developers in India. This guidebook will serve as a guide for startups and developers in Germany and India as it enables them to follow ethical principles as well as data protection laws in India. It also encourages them to focus on making a social impact with their AI products or services. The AI Handbook also acts as a legal guide for startups from Germany looking to enter the Indian market by providing a step-by-step process flow with insights into current Indian data protection and privacy legislation.

India and Germany should strategically collaborate on data, as this could add value in many sectors and areas such as agriculture, healthcare, education, and others. In addition, the heterogeneity of startup ecosystems in India and Germany could be leveraged to validate AI-based models such as those currently being developed in healthcare (e.g., digital health and online patient diagnostics) or agriculture (e.g., crop disease management and advisory) (such as Plantix[1]).

The national AI policy frameworks of India and Germany address economic growth and social inclusion, with #AIforAll as the common underlying theme. Indo-German collaboration in the startup ecosystem and initiatives such as FAIR Forward provide a unique opportunity to collaborate and create more innovation for society as a whole, enabling close collaboration to address the complex and pressing global challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

[1] In 2021 Plantix grew the biggest agri-input retailer network in India, Plantix CEO Simone Strey moves from Berlin to India

Authors: Gaurav Sharma, FAIR Forward: AI for All, GIZ India; Golo Rademacher, FAIR Forward: AI for All, GIZ Germany