Software lobby group Nasscom
is looking at expanding the number of start-ups in India, incubating and nurturing them to grow at its centres. While the target is to reach 10,000 start-ups, the focus is also to build specialised start-ups in emerging technology areas.
"So one of the outputs of the Centres of Excellences (CoEs) in 5 years is I am enrolling 100 research
scholars in writing papers on IoT
technology from India," says K S Viswanathan
, Vice President, Industry Initiatives at Nasscom
in an interview with Apurva Venkat and Raghu Krishnan
. Edited Excerpts:
How many more such CoE's do you plan to build?
The first one is in Bengaluru. The second CoE on manufacturing will come up at Ahmedabad. It
will be announced in the vibrant Gujarat programme in January. The third will be in Gurugram and the fourth in Andhra Pradesh.
The idea is to go in into specialised areas. The one we have created right now is broad based. For example, Gujarat can be one built around manufacturing, if we know what kind of capabilities are required for the industry 4.0. because they will act as a hub.
We will also create a validation and test infrastructure for the industry 4.0. Gurugram could be for healthcare. For example, when we create a health care IoT
solution, the hospitals adopt it, assuming Bengaluru-based start-ups is there with a healthcare solution using IoT
gets extra counselling, guidance and domain expertise from Gurugram center.
Bengaluru could be technology. The plan is to create 5 such center of excellences, only on IoT, and two on the angle for data sciences to experiment because once you create it, proliferation can happen quickly. You need start and explore what model works and then expand.
The same thing happened with start-ups also. Karnataka took the first initiative, based on that there are 7 to 8 similar centers in Kerala, Andhra, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune. All put together 230-300 start-ups would have grown from these 8 centres. According to our data, in total there are 9,600 start-ups.
But wouldn't that also become fragmented? One of the challenges that people say is for clusters like this you need to have a significant amount of people?
Take the Unites States, the centre of gravity for start-up' is Silicon Valley, especially for technology. For banking and financial services, it
is Chicago, New York and Boston area. For education it
The same people also admitted that Bengaluru is the hub for start-ups. Bengaluru is the hub for technology. The fact today is, while Bengaluru accounts for 33 per cent of IT, it
also leverages the local capabilities available. Also, to compare the US model to India may not be correct. India is a much larger and faster country. The fear always is whether we are spreading thin vis-a-vis or are we enabling an ecosystem.
What is the role of academia in this?
We believe that academia as a stakeholder is very important. For example, AICTE is planning to announce a bachelor of engineering in entrepreneurship starting 2017.
We believe the future lies in engaging at the college level as a large part of the industry may want to associate with aspiring people like entrepreneurs.
Last year, everybody in IIT has taken top-notch jobs in Flipkart. Now Flipkart does not go to IIT, so will you say they don't take entrepreneurship. Those are the cyclic behaviours.
Would this also look at publishing papers and focus on research?
Do you know how the idea of CoE started? The engineering council at Nasscom
wanted to position itself differently from the IT
services. So, a senior executive at Robert Bosch in Germany used to demand higher design work
He challenged us to find one scholar
from India who is strong in an area called mechatronics. So we identified the area where technology is moving and started creating scholars around them.
So, one of the outputs of the COE in 5 years is I am enrolling 100 research
scholars in writing papers on IoT
technology from India. We collaborate with IIT, IISc, Amritha College etc. For example, Karnataka government throws a problem for a agriculture solution to the COE. We do a hackathon with participation from University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad and identify five ideas. At the same time, the scholars work on writing papers based on their success. We have an opportunity of 5 years, where we either capture it
or let it
go. However, if we let it
is very difficult to catch up and all the legacy of Narayana Murthy and Azim Premji will go down the drain.
What are the next steps to promote start-ups?
When we started the 10,0000 programme three years back, it
just created awareness of India being the next destination for start-ups. Globally, Silicon valley has 57,000 start-ups. India possibly had 1,500 or 1,600 but there is a need to create a momentum about it.
Looking back at last three years, I would say the awareness has been created. Now, the question is how do I get to the depth of it
like the US does. In our case, instead of looking at technology, I am looking at verticals.
In India, the current application of 56 to 60 per cent is focused on B2C. It's a huge market of around 200-300 million. The largest e-commerce site in the world is IRCTC, the second largest is Makemytrip. Where else do you get such huge market size. Why is Amazon willing to burn their money in India to not lose their market share to Flipkart.
Will it shift to a more relevant application?
So in the 10,000 programme, we identify either technology, be it
machine learning, artificial intelligence. Can we create more and more start-ups in this technology and then look at verticals? Say healthcare, fin tech, retail and then look at the stack. The good news is the capabilities to do so exists, the question is without disturbing the existing ship which is roaring fast, how do you create new capabilities.?
What is the venture capital (VC) community looking at in the coming year?
Some of the VC's have started looking at hardware-based start-ups. The future is going to be there. But the VC's today are looking at how quickly can you add your first customer, your millionth customer and your 200 millionth customer. These are three aspects they see. If the idea is good, without struggle can you get your first customer, can you get 10 million in 6 months. India is a volume game, if you do not get your 10 million customers in 6 months time they feel you have lost your game.