By Sanu George

Location of Kerala in India, Source: Wikipedia
Location of Kerala in India, Source: Wikipedia
Kochi: The Startup Village here began on a modest scale, with just 5,000 sq feet of space, in April. There are, though, big plans and the idea is to scale up fast. Startup Village is the first public-private partnership model incubator in India, jointly promoted by the central government’s department of science and technology and Technopark, the country’s largest IT park.

The village focusses on mobile-internet companies.

Since April, the scaling-up process has indeed been fast. The area has doubled. Another 25,000 sq ft will be added by May next year. By 2014, the total area of the Startup Village would be 100,000 sq ft.

Sanjay Vijayakumar, chairman of Startup Village, told that the motto was simple: Think big, start small and scale up fast.

In an internet world, he said, one needs to execute projects at internet speed.

“Our vision is to create a world class technology product startup ecosystem in India. We will do this by creating an enabling ecosystem to support 1,000 startups over the next 10 years,” Vijayakumar said.

At present, there are eight companies in the village that employ 68 people in the physical incubation category; besides, it supports 138 companies in the virtual category.

“The investment outlay for incubation facilities is Rs.25 crore, while the Startup Village Angel fund would be Rs.50 crore. The total outlay over the next five years would be Rs.100 crore,” Vijayakumar said.

Village authorities say they are processing 10-20 applications a week.

“As the companies are product companies, we expect an average of 10-15 people per company and thus over 25,000 minimum direct employment through the village. Current trends show much more than that, and there is a huge groundswell of student entrepreneurship,” Vijayakumar said.

Kerala built the country’s first IT park in 1991 but lost the race to neighbouring states. That early failure was widely attributed to official lethargy.

With the Startup Village, a new model of work was being attempted, and the early signs of success are heartening.

Kris Gopalakrishnan, one of the seven founders of Infosys and widely regarded as the country’s most successful IT entrepreneur, is the driving force behind the village.

Among other brains behind it are Kiran Karnik of Nasscom and Arun Kumar, global board member of KPMG.

Sijo Kuruvila, CEO of the village, said the focus of work was on laying a strong foundation by bringing in technology innovation zones from various platform companies.

“Blackberry, IBM, Oracle, KPMG and ICICI have already joined and we are looking to close another 25 partnerships in the next 12 months. These zones are necessary to create a world class technology startup ecosystem,” Kuruvilla told IANS.

The Kerala government has introduced a novel scheme to promote student entrepreneurship, offering 20 percent attendance and four percent grace marks to students every semester for pursuing entrepreneurship for self-learning, and generating knowledge, wealth and employment.

“We have been invited by other states to replicate the blueprint that we have created through this village,” Kuruvilla said.

Source: IANS