Kerala government announces new initiatives to boost entrepreneurship

The Government of Kerala has decided to set up a seed support scheme for early stage investments to help new entrepreneurs and strengthen the state’s objective under the new IT policy to nurture one product startup a day, with the target of at least 3,000 companies by 2020, Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Oommen Chandy said today.

Speaking via video link at the Weekend@Startup Village celebrations here today, Shri Chandy also announced the setting up of a state-of-the-art Kerala Technology Innvoation Zone at the Kinfra Hi-Tech park where India’s first telecom business incubator, Startup Village, is currently located.

The new hub will have a built up space of 500,000 sq feet with all facilities required for a world class innovation ecosystem and will nurture startup companies across a number of sectors including IT and biotechnology.

The government’s flagship Student Enterpreneurship Policy giving 20% attendance allowance and 5% grace marks for student entrepreneurs has taken effect  in CUSAT and Kerala University and similar regulations will be introduced by other universities within a month, he said.

“All student entrepreneurs will be able to avail of these benefits this current academic year,” the Chief Minister said. “We don’t want our students to aim for a job or a visa after they complete education. We want them to become job creators and transform our economy that way. The government will provide every possible support for any entrepreneurial venture that has potential.”

The Government has also allocated Rs 15 lakhs for Startup Village’s flagship programme  SVSquare, to “build a bridge between Kochi and California”, enabling young aspiring businessmen and women to experience first-hand the renowned entrepreneurial culture of the global technology capital at Silicon Valley. Winners of the ‘Startup Village to Silicon Valley’ programme will leave for the US in September.

Hon’ble Minister for Industries and IT Shri P K Kunhalikutty reiterated that no startup with a potentially great and innovative idea will have to suffer for funding. “We have money and we have investors who eagerly want to support such ventures.”

The Minister also announced that Startup Village, which is currently facing a space crunch, will be provided workspace and hostel facilities at the Kerala Institute for Entrepreneurship Development in Kalamassery until their own building is ready.

He also officially renamed the central avenue in Startup Village as the Rajeev Motwani Street in honour of the late Stanford University professor who achieved legendary status in the field of computer science for his pioneering works.

The weekend event at the technology innovation hub began on Saturday (July 27) with a series of workshops for student entrepreneurs on a range of topics relevant to nascent businesses, session for the youngsters to pitch their ideas to the Startup Village’s community of angel investors for funding and an informal interaction later in the evening with some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs.

Dr Anil Menon, President, Globalization and Smart+Connected Communities at technology giant CISCO, announced today that his company is planning to set up an Innovation Lab at Startup Village. “We will put the equipment and solutions here and we want you to build applications on top of it,” he told the community of Startup entrepreneurs. This will be a great boost for the startup ecosystem in Kerala as CISCO is one of the biggest Silicon Valley success stories and it will bring a wealth of experience to young startups.

He said CISCO will also be the first to pool in funds for Startup Village’s new initiative ‘Devl000P’ project that aims to “create and equip an army of 1000+ professional student developers”.

Renowned US-based investor Shri M R Rangaswami said his investment group SandHill has been providing free guidance and advice for budding entrepreneurs through their website. He said Indiaspora, the community of Indian Americans that he founded last year, will work with Startup Village to support incubating companies here.

“There are three million Indian Americans constituting 1% of the population of the US and the country’s highest income group. They are keen to provide their mentorship and funding support for young people back home,” he said.

Shri Rangaswami said the focus of Indian business incubators should be on building angel networks; bringing talented people together so they can share ideas and experience; shift to cloud computing; focus on the booming mobile space and provide opportunity to develop and deliver apps on this platform; and look at global markets that no one has ventured into so far.

Infosys co-founder and Chief Mentor of Startup Village Shri Kris Gopalakrishnan called Startup Village a “mass movement that will change Kerala” and praised the Government for its support for the venture.

Shri P H Kurien, Principal Secretary, IT, Government of Kerala, said projects like Startup Village were the reason why the state has set ambitious targets for the IT sector in production and R&D. He said the fund out of which an allocation has been made for the “Startup Village to Silicon Valley” programme will be available for aspiring entrepreneurs all across Kerala to enhance their overseas exposure.

Shri Rentala Chandrasekhar, former IT and Telecom secretary, Government of India, said the 100 billion dollar Indian IT industry is aiming to grow to 300 billion dollars by 2020. “This growth is not going to happen by doing more of the same. Entrepreneurs need to do things that have never been done before and going into domains that exist only in our imaginations today. That is where ventures like Startup Village become relevant.”

Sanjay Vijayakumar, Chairman of the Startup Village Board of Governors and CEO Sijo Kuruvilla George launched the Dev1000p programme earlier this morning at a function attended by more than 1,500 students.

Shri Kris Gopalakrishnan unveiled a Startup Village listings application on Android developed by Sanjay Nediyara that provides details, contacts and connections of all companies at the hub.

An Experience Zone was opened for the public at Startup Village from 11 am to 2 pm, enabling people to see and experience the latest developments in technology. More than 1,600 people visited the zone.

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