How Kerala’s new startup complex is just a step towards building integrated startup city

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Published: January 12, 2019 2:53 PM

The startup complex will be the largest startup hub in India that will have a 1,000-seat capacity and would offer incubation, accelerator, and co-working services along with three specialized Centre of Excellence set up in the complex.

Startups, Kerala Startup Mission, Startup India, Start Up mission, students, start upsKerala government and Kerala Startup Mission want to convert the startup complex into a sprawling up to 500,000 sq ft campus.

In 2012, it was India’s first public-private partnership modelled startup incubator Startup Village which was also among India’s first incubators that Kochi had. In 2019, the city is set to have another first in the incubation ecosystem when it launches India’s largest startup hub spread over 182,000 sq ft in the Kerala Technology Innovation Zone at city’s industrial hub Kalamassery on January 13.

Inaugurated in August last year, Jaipur-based Bhamashah Techno Hub built over 100,000 sq ft so far topped the list of largest startup hubs in the country followed by Hyderabad-s 70,000 sq ft T-Hub.

However, Kerala government and Kerala Startup Mission – the nodal agency of the government for state’s entrepreneurship development and incubation activities want to convert the startup complex into a sprawling up to 500,000 sq ft campus dedicated to end-to-end startup support activities. Kerala Startup Mission’s chief executive officer Dr Saji Gopinath shares plan beyond the new startup complex that would make it nearly triple the existing size.

Are you looking at this from a broader ecosystem play perspective?

Absolutely. The new startup complex is built over around 13 acres that has a single building as of now. It will have a 1,000-seat capacity. More than just incubation services, we will offer accelerator services and co-working spaces as well for startups of varied team sizes. There will also be three Centre of Excellence built around AR/VR and gaming by game development company Unity Technologies, CERA and communications network by Aegis Network.

However, by end of this year, a new building will come up which will have residential cum incubation facility for start-ups to live while during their incubation or acceleration period. By mid-2020, the third building will be constructed in the same area that will have accelerators and business services for startups such as legal, IT, HR etc. The combined area for all the three buildings would be around 500,000 sq ft space. There will be a construction of a fourth building as well but that’s still under planning phase.

Would you be open to other accelerators/incubators as well to set up in the complex?

Yes, we can provide them with physical space. An accelerator which is internationally reputed or supported by one of the international bodies can seek operational support from us while in some cases capital support can also be provided. In fact, we are in touch with a few of the major accelerators and incubators in the country to see if they can start operating in the new complex. To begin with, we will have India’s first international accelerator for hardware startups called BRINC, and an incubator focusing on cancer care called BRIC. We are expecting 300-400 startups coming in the new complex by end of this year across incubation, co-working and accelerator services. We will focus on both mature as well as early-stage startups.

Are you keen on having a majority of startups from other states?

Our approach is to create a pipeline of startups from grounds up. So, instead of an outside-in approach of cities like Bengaluru where most of the startups come from outside the state, we will follow an inside-out approach where we may have 60-70% homegrown startups and rest from outside. Having a central location with the new complex allows us to pool support from each other startups into different areas with different expertise.

How does the pricing structure look like at the new complex?

If a startup has multiple team members and wants an independent cubicle then the rates are around Rs 42 per sqft which is around Rs 20 cheaper than other areas in the city. For per seat basis, the charges are Rs 2,000 that includes internet which is quite cheap. For co-working, the charges are Rs 3,000 per seat. The duration for the accelerator is 6 months while for incubation is 18 months but can be extended up to 24 months for very young startups. For biotech startups, the period is up to 4 years.

Beyond physical space, how’s the support offered in terms of capital and expansion activities?

We have a fund of funds with a 50% contribution from the government. Also, we give early risk capital of up to around Rs 10-12 lakh based on the innovativeness of the product. We also provide substantial marketing support for startups’ participation in various events globally where we bear of the total cost. We take equity via the fund that invests in startups.

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