Kerala scouts European partners for its $45-bn IT Park odyssey

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Feb 27 2009, 06:35am hrs
Just as athe US President Barrack Obama frowns hard at IT outsourcing, a South Indian state has shifted its partner-hunting for its $45-billion IT infrastucture to more receptive European markets. Kerala is building up capacities through 10 IT parks in hub-and-spoke model in the next five to seven years.

"Finding collaborators in developing and supporting the upcoming infrastructure for infrastructure development would definitely be a driving agenda in the State's participation in CeBIT 2009 in Germany, says Siddhartha Bhattacharya, CEO, the State-run IT Technopark and Infopark in Kerala. "We would also look for opportunities of strategic alliances with corporate groups and government for evolving common business interests. The shift of IT business buoy to European markets is an added stimulus to use the CeBIT window," he adds.

Ajay Kumar, IT Secretary- Kerala and Bhattacharya are part of the team representing the State at the World's largest IT event. CeBIT 2009 is held in Hanover, Germany from March 3 to March 8.

Asked of the impact of United States' evolving stand against business outsourcing, Bhattacharya says that Kerala IT cannot be seriously shaken since it is not tied up on cost advantage alone. "There's an impressive climb up the value chain in the State, across a spread of verticals like embedded design, mobile design, core R&D and platform development.

Kerala, which developed India's first IT park Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram, had lagged in scaling it up during the boom era. Besides the Infopark in Kochi, the State IT planners are fanning out the infrastructure into a `hub-and-spoke model. Thus Technopark will have additional IT facility of over 42 acres at Kollam, about 50 km from the State Capital.

As spokes for the Kochi Infopark, three facilities at Koratty, Cherthala and Ambalapuzha, are in pipeline. A third hub Cyberpark is planned in Kozhikode in North Kerala, which will be later linked to its spokes in Kasargod and Kannur.

Short distances between the parks and low urban-rural divide are the key advantages that the State hopes to showcase at CeBIT. "Compared to enormous unutilised IT built-up space in many Indian States, Kerala could easily boast of as high as 85% occupancy. And since the built-up space is scarce, the main hurry is to get the infrastructure scale-up in phases to be on a ready mode when the economy rebounds," says Vasudevan, Business Development Manager, Technopark.

This year, Kerala has started buzzing on the `Tier 1-cities IT destination' radar, after a World Bank study in 2009 tagged it as the second best Indian State in investment climate. The State IT team expects to make its CeBIT pitch leveraging the existing European business associates like Allianz Cornhill in Technopark and Infopark.