How the world-class incubation centre ‘iCreate’ Gujarat is leading the ‘Start-up India’ Drive
With the establishment of world-class incubation centre- iCreate, the deep running entrepreneurship in Gujarat is reaching new heights
In January 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu launched open in Ahmedabad – iCreate (International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Technology) to promote Prime Minister’s ambitious program ‘Start-up India.’ The centre promotes and nurtures entrepreneurs by providing them finance, mentors and technology, and boasts of the who’s who of Indian industry in its advisory board including Dilip Shanghvi, Uday Kotak, Narayan Murthy, and Jagdish Bhagwati among others.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu at iCreate Center at Deo Dholera village, in Ahmedabad, Gujarat
While the establishment of this world-class incubation centre (under Gujarat Foundation for Entrepreneurial Excellence (GFEE)) will drive new enterprise growth, the roots of entrepreneurship run deep and wide in Gujarat. It was in 2002 when India’s premier management institute IIM-Ahmedabad established India’s first incubator – Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE). A decade later in 2013, Gujarat constituted Gujarat State Innovation Council to incentivise innovation in the state, under the leadership of Narendra Modi.
Since then, the State Government in its capacity has been playing the active role of a facilitator for entrepreneurship. In the past decade and a half, enabling environment through policy interventions has led to the growth of mentor organisations, funding institutions, incubators and accelerators.
Gujarat State Biotechnology Mission(GSBTM-SavliBioIncubator)
Nurturing of the entrepreneurial ecosystem has attracted prominent mentor organisations to Gujarat including TiE Ahmedabad, GESIA IT Association, National Innovation Fund-India, eChai, Gujpreneurs, Headstart Network etc. And with the growing presence of incubators and accelerators such as CIIE (IIM-Ahmedabad), iCreate, NID-Incubator, MICA-Incubator, VentureStudio, IIT-Gandhinagar Incubator, DA-IICT Incubator etc., the scene is getting robust.
Progressive development in the entrepreneurial ecosystem has helped in the aggregation of angel investors and venture capitalists with institutions like Gujarat Venture Finance Limited, Gujarat Angel Investors Network, Ahmedabad Angel Investors, Infuse Ventures and Incube Ventures queuing up for best fits.
The state government, on its part, has created an Rs. 250 crore ‘GVFL Startup Fund,’ of which Rs. 97 crores was allotted in 2016-17 for start-ups.
The state’s policy initiatives also offer numerous possibilities to original ideas. In January 2015, the state launched Scheme for Assistance for Startups/ Innovation with an objective to develop entrepreneurial skills in youth, create a favourable ecosystem for start-ups/innovation and synergise the complementary efforts of all stakeholders.
Under the scheme, the state has approved 33 nodal institutions (NIs) that invite startup proposals, evaluate them, and provide them incubation and mentoring. Assistance offered under the scheme:
Source: Govt. of Gujarat data
Through a 5-step process, an innovator can receive assistance under the scheme. An innovator needs to approach the NI which screens the applications and sends recommendations to Industries Commissionerate office, which in turn puts the application before the SLIC for approval. If approved, the grant is released. Currently, 130 plus such innovative projects are being supported under the scheme.
Compliance norms in Gujarat are much easier than ‘Compliance as per Startup India Action Plan.’ For instance, there is no inspection required for the first five years for Startups in Gujarat. It is similar to no inspection for labour laws for the first five years.
The state in 2016 introduced a sector-specific ‘Electronics IT/ ITeS Startup Policy’ to facilitate at least 2000 startups and establish 50 incubators dedicated to the electronics and IT sector. The policy’s objective is to facilitate $1 billion investment in start-ups and develop 1 million sqft. Incubation space.
Gujarat also has in place Rs. 200 crore ‘Student Innovation Fund’ under Student Startup and Innovation Policy, which aims to develop student-centric innovation and pre-incubation ecosystem. The policy has set for itself an uphill target of supporting 1000 innovations per year, harness 500 student start-ups in the next five years and file 1000 patents from state’s universities every year.
Though the target set by the state government is ambitious, it has already set the tone for creating a competitive future buzzing with ideas. As Gujarat gets down to the business of dreams and hope, it is the other states that will need to do the catching up. Let’s wait and watch.
(The writer is Research Scholar, Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India)