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A start-up ecosystem gets off to a fine start

As the right elements for a world-class campus startup ecosystem begin to take shape in India, we can look forward to building a billion-dollar campus startup by 2022, the 75th year of our independence.

analysis Updated: Aug 16, 2016 21:21 IST
Start-up India

Efforts are now underway to change this with some landmark startup initiatives launched by Gujarat Technical University (GTU) and Kerala Technical University (KTU), which together account for around one-seventh of the engineering colleges in India.(HT File Photo)

The ‘Startup India’ call by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has charted out a new paradigm for the industrial ecosystem. It has the potential to redefine the way industries are built and sustained in India.

Leaders from diverse fields have come together over the last one year to give momentum to #Startup India by laying the foundations for #StartInCollege, a revolutionary initiative of SV.CO, the world’s first digital incubator for students, to foster student entrepreneurship. These leaders range from college principals and university vice-chancellors to bureaucrats, chief ministers and leading companies in the Indian startup ecosystem.

There are certain positives that need to be leveraged. More than one million young persons are turning 18 every month. We need to build companies to provide employment to our youth. Our education system produces almost one million engineers every year, but the sad fact is that even after four years of engineering a large majority of them are not equipped with the practical knowledge to “engineer” anything.

Read | Govt wants startups’ policy wishlist

Efforts are now underway to change this with some landmark startup initiatives launched by Gujarat Technical University (GTU) and Kerala Technical University (KTU), which together account for around one-seventh of the engineering colleges in India.

Various states have also announced startup policies. Funds are being committed in state budgets for job creation. The Kerala government has made a budgetary allocation of Rs 300 crore for startups, and the sum is higher than the Startup budget of the Central government’s department of science and technology.

Read | Time to step up speed and scale

NITI Aayog’s initiative of setting up 500 tinkering labs in schools received more than 13,000 applications. More than 3,000 applications were received for college incubators, and around 100 applications for developing 10 world-class startups. This is indicative of the widespread impact the call for ‘Startup India’ has had at the school, college, university and state levels. To support this student startup revolution, leaders of the Indian ecosystem have come forward. Companies like Freshdesk, Tally, FreeCharge and Ola are now hiring students with startup skills. Till recently, these top startups were hiring only from select colleges. Now as students build real technology and showcase their skills, hiring them, even if not from elite colleges, has become possible. Leading founders like Vijay Shekhar Sharma of Paytm and Kunal Bahl of Snapdeal have even committed time to mentor student startups.

Facebook has offered access to meritorious students to its developer teams in Menlo Park, California. The world’s top social networking site will provide guidance and mentorship to Indian engineering students aspiring to become entrepreneurs through SV.CO.

Homegrown campus startups like Paytm are offering full scholarships for students for #StartInCollege. The US embassy has stepped up its support for processing the visas of these students for visiting Silicon Valley.

Read | Obama takes the Silicon Valley spirit global

The support from the Indian startup ecosystem is creating local success stories. All this has spurred the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to come up with a student startup policy. Specialisation in Startup engineering is well on course to becoming a reality. Like MBAs in finance or marketing, students will be able to learn computer science or electronics with specialisation in entrepreneurship.

As the right elements for a world-class campus startup ecosystem begin to take shape in India, we can look forward to building a billion-dollar campus startup by 2022, the 75th year of our independence.

Sanjay Vijayakumar is chairman of Startup Village (SV.CO).

The views expressed are personal.