The U.S. Consulate General, Public Affairs Section in Kolkata is soliciting proposals for a program entitled “Himalayas to Bay of Bengal – Regional Startup Network (HBB-RSN)”.

This funding opportunity seeks to build entrepreneurial capacity in the South Asian countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal through an interconnected regional network. This program will leverage the networks and experience of the Nexus Start Up Hub to engage with and train local network leaders and entrepreneurs through a three-tiered program, cumulating in the best of the start-ups being awarded a place in the Nexus startup program in New Delhi.

Program Overview

The program will use a 3-tier selection, engagement and training model:

  1. The first phase would consist of a 2-day training workshop in each of the participating countries for up to 20 participants. Selection and promotion would be done in conjunction with the Embassies and local startup networks. A priority for selection would be those start-ups whose products/services could be successful outside of their countries (regional in nature). Prior to the workshop, each of the start-ups would complete an introductory online program on entrepreneurship and commercialization. At the end of the workshop, the top 4 start-ups would be selected to go to the second phase.
  2. In the second phase, 20 start-ups (5 from each of the 4 countries) would come to Kolkata for a 3-day advanced training and access program. This training would include a component on building/strengthening their local communities, as well as introductions to local economic partners and support organizations. This program would culminate in a competitive pitch session, with the top 5 finalists being awarded a spot in the Nexus cohort.
  3. These top start-ups would then be given a slot in the 9-week Nexus incubation program in New Delhi. Selected start-ups would get the full 9-week intensive program of training, access and mentorship, as well as networking with their fellow Indian start-ups, for potential collaboration.   A travel subsidy would be given to each of the international start-ups in order to facilitate their stay during the Nexus cohort.

The 15-month program envisions two cycles of the above training, with time between and after each Nexus cohort to strengthen the in-country networks and explore opportunities with U.S. companies and organizations such as the American Chamber of Commerce.

Note: Due to the cross-border nature of this project, PAS Kolkata encourages cost sharing or co-funding from other institutions in the area.

Project Goal

Enhance U.S. engagement in the Indian Ocean region to promote economic growth, foster entrepreneurship, and promote trade opportunities for U.S. companies.

Project Objectives

Promotion of American best practices in entrepreneurship and incubation; creation of regional engagement and interconnectedness through entrepreneurial activities for a stronger Indo-Pacific region; access for U.S. companies to new markets and customers that have been difficult to reach.

Project Audience

Entrepreneurs age 28 to 35, graduate education and above, as well as chambers of commerce, business startups, governments, investors, and funding agencies, located in Eastern India and neighboring countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal. Focus on recruiting at least 25 percent women.

Project Deliverables

PAS Kolkata in partnership with the Nexus startup hub will provide a 15-month training, mentorship, and networking opportunities for 70-80 leading startups in South Asia to help them grow from local concepts to regionally focused ones.

Award Information

  • Minimum Award Amount: $100,000
  • Maximum Award Amount: $200,000

Eligibility Criteria

  • The following organizations are eligible to apply:
    • Not-for-profit organizations
    • Civil society/non-governmental organizations
    • Think tanks
    • Public and private educational institutions
    • Individuals
    • Public International Organizations and Governmental institutions
  • Please choose organization nationality and type: International Not-for-Profit Organization.
  • Organizations may sub-contract with other entities, but only one, non-profit, non-governmental entity can be the prime recipient of the award. When sub-contracting with other entities, the responsibilities of each entity must be clearly defined in the proposal.
  • Cost sharing or matching is not required for this funding opportunity.
  • Pre-award costs are not an allowable expense for this funding opportunity.

For more information, visit

Name of the Organisation
Regional Startup Network Department of State U.S. Mission to India
Grant Amount
USD 2,00,000
Closing date of Proposal
Friday, 15 May, 2020
RFP Email
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