Govt, India Inc step up to handhold startups

Govt, India Inc step up to handhold startups

Few years back when the then Intel India President Frank Jones met the Secretary of Technology Development Board (TDB) H K Mittal and expressed his wish to help the startup ecosystem in India, Mittal found it fishy, wary of some agenda behind the sudden corporate benevolence.

Later, when Mittal met Jones, the latter explained that it didn't make sense for Intel to get into a business of $50-100 million (referring to startups) and that the company was looking at something much bigger.

After Mittal's fears were allayed, the partnership started in right earnest, completing its fourth year in 2013.

The National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB) of the Department of Science & Technology, Govt of India, and Intel India, are the sponsors of the 'Next Big Idea' in which the top two teams will participate in the Intel Global Challenge to be held at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkley. This is one of the partnerships that India Inc has forged with the government to handhold startups and ideas in India. Reportedly, the government had last year allocated Rs 30,000 crore by way of incentives and subsidies to firms interested in setting up electronic manufacturing units or fabs in India.

This also included incentives worth Rs 10,000 crore for startups interested in creating mobile apps and other electronic hardware.

Another partnership is the Startup Village in Kerala, a telecom incubation park jointly developed by the National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB) under the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of the central government along with Kerala government-run Technopark, in collaboration with MobME Wireless.

Blackberry had partnered with Startup Village in Kochi to establish their first ever innovation zone for BlackBerry in Asia-Pacific known as Rubus Labs which acts as a startup incubation centre and showcases the latest innovations from Blackberry.

The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Delhi Executive Director Geetika Dayal told Deccan Herald that the way a government formulates statutory policies can either be a facilitator or a hindrance.

“However, I feel that entrepreneurship is more of a DNA which can survive even without much government support,” she explained.

Even industry bodies have gone ahead to develop ecosystems for startups to survive by giving them incentives not only in terms of subsidised office spaces, but also to bridge their communication gap with the industry.

IT industry body Nasscom this month, as a part of its 10,000 startup initiative to scale up the startup ecosystem in India, inaugurated its first startup warehouse in Bangalore. It was introduced to create a micro-ecosystem where early stage startup founders can work together.

Nasscom said it has already received about 2,000 Expressions of Interest for the warehouse as it was part of the 10,000 startup application process.

Not only is the office space subsidised, Nasscom is also bearing a substantial part of the operational costs. This facility, Nasscom said, can be used by a startup for six months and later renewed for another six months.

That the government has also become a proactive member in such initiatives is evident from Karnataka IT secretary I N S Prasad saying that Karnataka will look forward to three more such startup warehouses; a second in Bangalore and two in other cities of the state.

“The startup warehouse in Bangalore was set up in 2-3 weeks with government support. I won't say it's the best we can get, but it's certainly improving,” Microsoft Accelerator CEO-in-residence Mukund Mohan said.

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