The government of the Indian state of Kerala is planning the construction of a $1 billion hub for startups, said the state’s Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Thursday. It is part of a master plan to turn the state, which is underdeveloped in comparison to other regions, into an innovation hub by 2030, according to a statement.
The announcement comes following recent efforts to spur the local tech economy. Those include the 2012 opening of the Startup Village in Kochi, a joint project of Indian government agencies and the Technopark industrial park in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram (a.k.a. Trivandrum). The Village has helped over 500 new startups in just three years, according to NDTV.
Technopark sponsors the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM, formerly Technopark-TBI), a local incubator aimed at “creating an entrepreneurship culture among the student community as well as creating employment ‘generators’,” according to its Facebook page. The incubator gives away numerous resources to promising young students and offers professional training and work space.
KSUM is also offering 50 resource baskets – so-called “startup boxes” – which include MacBooks, iPhones, Google Nexus, Kindles and Arduino starter kits to young Keralan entrepreneurs and innovators. “The top student entrepreneurs, selected for the startup boxes should aim to become top startups in India within one year,” Chandy said.
Technological education a priority in India
Chandy’s support for local technology education and innovation is in the spirit of a number of other local and federal sponsorship programs across India, including the 10,000 Startups Initiative. The country has invested tremendous resources into a network of science and technology institutes, namely the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs), All Indian Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), and the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs).
While other Indian states have also been incubating local businesses and encouraging entrepreneurship, such as West Bengal, Karnataka, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, Kerala’s efforts exceed these efforts.
In 2013, Chandy promised to invest 1% of the Kerala state budget (about $76 million) into developing the local startup community. He has also extended help to students wishing to take time off studies to work on business ideas.
Here’s to hoping this investment pays off – and the students don’t just run way with some MacBooks.
Featured Image Credit: Thangaraj Kumaravel / Flickr