Kerala government to support private sector IT incubators and accelerators

Thiruvananthapuram: In a significant push to expand IT incubation space and encourage more startup ventures, the Kerala government has approved support for private entities and tie-ups with reputed national and international agencies for setting up incubators and accelerators in the state.

The government has also decided to revise norms in the state IT policy to align with the national Startup India campaign, providing greater incentives to startups in Kerala.

State IT Secretary Shri. M. Sivasankar issued the orders this week following a proposal from the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) on schemes to develop an additional 500,000 sq ft of incubation space outside of the existing incubators in Trivandrum, Kochi and Kozhikode, where it already has plans to develop 500,000 sq ft.

KSUM recommended the participation of private sector to help realise the goal of the 2014 Kerala Technology Startup Policy of creating 1 million sq ft of IT incubation space. It will be a major step towards achieving the target outlined in the IT Policy 2017 of creating 10 million sq ft of office space to provide direct and indirect employment to 2.5 lakh people.

“We have set ambitious goals for our IT sector and this is an important step in realising them. Private sector participation will strengthen both our startup infrastructure and ecosystem; and the government is willing to incentivise such partnerships,” said Shri. Sivasankar.

As per the order, the Kerala government will support private entities with proven experience in startup mentoring to set up incubators or accelerators in the state, with capital, operational and promotional assistance, as per norms. It may also tie-up with national and international agencies for mentoring and incubation support.

The agencies are classified into three groups for specific incentives.

The first consists of Government departments, agencies, international agencies, commodity boards and industry associations, reputed international incubators or accelerators, which are operational in international locations for at least three years.

The second includes Department of Science and Technology (DST) or any other Indian agency approved incubators, which are operational for two years or more and having experience in managing incubators or accelerators in other parts of India.

The two groups will be eligible for support only if they operate out of a government-owned space or space within a government approved IT Park.

The third category includes Technolodges, private co-working spaces and rural incubation spaces etc. promoted by non-profit organisations or NGOs.

“We have been assigned to extend support to the agencies in accordance with the IT policy. The incubators will receive operational and internet support for a period of five years, and all incubatees will be eligible for our promotional schemes such as startup boxes, grants, seed funds, cloud credits and so on,” said KSUM CEO Dr. Saji Gopinath.”These facilities will be monitored closely and subject to appraisals.”

In a separate decision, the state government has adopted Startup India’s definition of startups for its IT policy, revising an earlier stipulation that the companies be within three years of registration.

Now startup ventures within seven years of registration (10 years for biotechnology startups) and turnover of up to Rs 25 crore will be eligible for incentives under the IT policy.

The benefits have also been extended to startups that have been merged, acquired or amalgamated, subject to eligibility.