CM Woos Tech Giants to Set Up Business Hubs in Kerala
Assuring all support to investors, Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala Chief Minister, has said that the State is the most ideal destination for startups and technology giants to choose as the hub of their India, Middle East and South Asia business operations.
Inaugurating the second edition of Huddle Kerala, Asia’s largest startup convergence, at Leela Raviz Kovalam in Thiruvananthapuram recently, Vijayan said considering the State’s inherent strength like high socio-economic indices and a digitally aware and empowered population, Kerala is a great piloting opportunity for startups seeking to expand in India and other emerging markets.
“We have the talent, support system as well as the market potential to emerge as the innovation hub of India,” he said, recalling that “it is in this pristine State that Travis Kalanick found inspiration to code the initial version of Uber.”
Referring to Kerala’s famed global exposure since ancient times, the Chief Minister said Kerala now boasts of a thriving startup and innovation ecosystem, which offers a lot of incubation facilities, corporate tie-ups and financial systems facilitated by Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM).
The State-led interventions such as establishment of Innovation Entrepreneurship Development Cells, distribution of Raspberry Pi kits among schoolchildren and setting up of telepresence network have helped in developing a culture of innovation at school and college-levels, he said.
M Sivasankar IAS, Secretary, IT and Electronics, Kerala, said Huddle Kerala will be the most exciting startup conclave in the coming years. Anil Agrawal IPS, Joint Secretary DPIIT and Jitender S Minhas, CEO, IAMAI Startup Foundation, were also present.
A focal point for tech startups and relevant stakeholders of entrepreneurial ecosystem, the two-day Huddle Kerala 2019 was also packed with Leadership Talks, Tech Talks, Fireside Chat, Beachside Huddle, Speed Dating with Investors and Startup Demos.
The meet also focused on the emerging and future technology sectors like Blockchain, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Digital Entertainment, AR/VR, Drone Tech, UI/UX and e-Gov/m-Gov.
The event offered a unique platform for startups to showcase their products before technology and industry leaders from around the world. More than 30 speakers, investors and industry challengers took part in it.
Twitter co-founder & facebook to invest in kerala startups
In a first major initiative in the State, microblogging and social networking service provider Twitter’s Co-founder Biz Stone will invest in a startup mentored by Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), it was announced at Huddle Kerala 2019.
Biz Stone, also an angel investor, through video conference, announced that he would be investing in Kochi-based startup Sieve during the inaugural ceremony of the second edition of Huddle Kerala 2019.
Founded by Sanjay Nediyara, a hearing-impaired entrepreneur, Sieve is a complete platform for freelancers and agencies that provide the infrastructure from websites to digital signatures and all way up to invoicing and payment management. The company which currently serves the US market will soon be expanding to Europe.
Commenting on the investment, Stone said: “I have used the product of Sieve as a freelancer. As an angel, I consider the person first and the product second. I find Sanjay as a dedicated, empathetic and extremely hardworking individual.” He added that he was proud of associating with the company from Kerala. However, Stone did not disclose the investment amount.
Facebook to invest in tech startups in India: Official
In a move that would give a tremendous boost to the startup ecosystem in India, social media major Facebook is gearing up to make substantial investments in technology startups, according to a top official of the company.
“We have shown willingness to make direct investments in technology startups in India. We are willing to spend our time and energy to tap the massive depth of engineering talent in the country,” said Ajit Mohan, Vice President and Managing Director, India Facebook, while addressing the opening session of the two-day event.
Capacity Development Programme for Women Entrepreneurs Launched
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan launched the Kerala edition of WING-Women Rise Together, a unique initiative by Startup India, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), for capacity development of women entrepreneurs in the country.
The WING programme will identify and support both aspiring and established women entrepreneurs in their startup journeys through workshops and access to incubation, investors and various business support services.
Though India has achieved great heights in fostering entrepreneurship and the startup ecosystem, women constitute only 13.76 per cent of the total entrepreneurs in the country. With the objective of promoting gender inclusivity in innovation and entrepreneurship, Startup India has rolled out this programme and aims to support at least 7500 women entrepreneurs in the country over the next one year. Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), along with Lets Venture, has been awarded the responsibility by Invest India for running this programme in all the southern States – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Kerala. The first leg of the programme will happen in Kerala and then spread to the rest of the country. Five agencies have been selected by Invest India to run the programme across the country.
“We understand the potential of mobilising the women entrepreneurs in the country. Through this Capacity Development programme we want to bring women to the forefront of innovation and support them with various benefits like incubation, mentorship, investments etc. to help them grow,” said Anil Agrawal IPS, Joint Secretary, DPIIT, during the launch event.
Kerala Government has already taken great strides in supporting women entrepreneurs by announcing free pre-incubation programme, 100 per cent financing for international business visits, and other schemes for early stage funding and technology commercialisation.
“Women today have overcome every possible negative notion about them, proving themselves beyond doubt in every sphere of life, including the intricate world of entrepreneurship. Mobilising the untapped aptitude of women entrepreneurs in the country will fuel the next wave of economic development. Through this initiative, we will run focused programmes to identify and support their dreams,” said Dr. Saji Gopinath, CEO, KSUM.
The first four workshops are planned in Thrissur, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode between October 18 and November 9.
Interested women entrepreneurs can find more details and sign up for the workshops at http://bit.ly/WINGKerala.
New initiatives take off at Huddle, poised to drive Kerala Startups
The second edition of Huddle Kerala also witnessed a series of strategic agreements which could deliver an impetus to the startup ecosystem in Kerala
Mobile phone manufacturer Oppo Mobiles India Private Limited will run an incubation programme and support select startups under Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), besides providing market access and technical expertise to them.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) in this regard was signed between M Sivasankar IAS, Secretary, Electronics and IT, Government of Kerala, and Tasleem Arif, Vice President and R&D Head, India, Oppo, in the presence of Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala Chief Minister, during the inaugural ceremony of Huddle Kerala 2019.
As per the MoU, Oppo will host the startups at OPPO R&D Centre for workshops and training. Besides, it will also provide physical infrastructure for the incubation process executed with Oppo support.
KSUM also signed an MoU with Wadhwani Foundation for conducting acceleration programmes for SMEs and startups, entrepreneurship education on the sidelines of the event. It was signed between Sivasankar and Abhinav Khera, Senior Vice President, Wadhwani Foundation.
Meanwhile, Space Park, Government of Kerala and Orbital Micro Systems Ltd. also signed an MoU for cooperation in building a ‘Global Earth Observation Centre-of-Excellence’ in the capital city. It was signed between David Gallaher, Co-founder and Chief Data Scientist, Orbital Micro Systems, and Santhosh Kurup, Special Officer, Space Park. The MoU states about building a world-class, space tech-focused Global Earth Observation Centre-of-Excellence (GECoE) in Kerala.
Among other developments, Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) has selected retail and fashion sector conglomerate Future Group as their market access partner in order to widen the horizons for startups in the State to grow and progress further. KSUM signed a MoU in this regard with Mumbai-headquartered Future Group at Huddle Kerala 2019.
Dr. Saji Gopinath, CEO, KSUM and Saravana Mani, Head, Open Innovation, Future Group, signed the MoU in the presence of M Sivasankar IAS, Secretary, Electronics and IT, Government of Kerala. As per the MoU, KSUM will prepare a curated list of 20 companies in a year which will be prospective clients for the Future Group.
While KSUM will also provide a platform to Future Group twice every year to speak about their business at the events organised or promoted by it, Future Group will offer mentorship along with business and technology guidance for relevant startups participating in the programme. It will also collaborate with relevant startups participating in KSUM’s scaling programmes.
'Encourage women to become tech entrepreneurs'
Adequate encouragement should be given at grassroots level to girls to foster their potential for pursuing technology and thereby help increase the number of female entrepreneurs in the country, a panel of women entrepreneurs agreed at a discussion at Huddle Kerala 2019.
The panellists observed that the representation of women in technology sector is miniscule now. “We should address the issue at the grassroots level, and schools should encourage girls to pursue technology. There is a favourable milieu for women to enter this field as finance from banks, learning and mentoring opportunities are available for them,” said Kiran Bhat, Founder and MD, Xebec Communication.
“It’s a fact that technology has transformed the industry. We need more women startup networks happening on a regular basis. Industry mentors should come voluntarily to conduct mentoring sessions for women,” she added.
Noting that tech women are of rare species, Pooja Ravishankar, Head, Category Marketing, BigBasket.com, said it is imperative to shed the typecast roles assigned to girls and involve them in jobs like repairing vehicles and electric components at home. She said that BigBasket has embarked on a pilot project of employing women as delivery executives.
Admitting that small number of women in technology field is a reality, Sruthi Kannan, Head, Launchpad Startup Accelerator, CISCO, said women have to move away from stereotypical tasks and must play to their fullest potential.
Meanwhile, Anju Chaudhary, Director, Enterprise and Alliances, Builder.ai, said every woman should be able to unlock their potential. “It’s our responsibility to encourage women and join hands to make them powerful,” she added. Punita Sabharwal Kapoor, Deputy Editor, Entrepreneur also spoke.