Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) is looking at setting up business, financial and technology incubation centres as a leg up to Start Up India, Digital India, and Universal Financial Inclusion themes of the Narendra Modi government. In this series, SIDBI has now launched a financial technology incubator at Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow (IIM-L), for nurturing high-impact technologies towards the financial inclusion agenda. The incubator is named SIDBI Centre for Innovations in Financial Inclusion (SCI-FI). The Centre would handhold financial technology ideas into reality. IIM-L would provide the required managerial and technological resources and support towards the incubation process. SCI-FI would develop research artifacts, promote research collaboration and serve as a resource hub to unlock entrepreneurial potential. SIDBI CMD Mohammad Mustafa said the bank wanted to set up similar incubators at other institutions as well and was, in fact, talking to a few premier organisations to support such initiatives. He said the bank had pioneered the financial inclusion model, which has now got mainstreamed. "By leveraging technology, the twin objectives of expanding outreach and cost reduction could be realised by the participating institutions and entities." SIDBI Deputy MD Manoj Mittal informed that SCI-FI would not only support start-ups at IIM-L but at other peer institutions as well. "We want to develop it as a nodal point to support the business ideas financially and technically while connecting it with actual practitioners for imparting the practical approach.
We would be looking at IIM-L to produce a unicorn in a few years," added Mittal.He said that enterprise and entrepreneurship promotion were at the core of SIDBI, which has been aligning its policies and actions with national development priorities. SIDBI has been proactively taking steps to boost start-ups and currently manages the Rs 10,000-crore Fund of Funds for Start Ups. Meanwhile, IIM-L Director Ajit Prasad said the institute had a strong infrastructure and faculty base to contribute towards start-ups and giving shape to innovative business ideas. He further stressed on the topical need to study societal challenges by budding managers and making use of technology for suggesting effective and long-term solutions. SCI-FI will mentor fintech start-ups to create products and services for financial inclusion. Prasad claimed IIM-L was uniquely placed to cater to the extant need-gap for financial inclusion in eastern, north-eastern and central India since there was no such dedicated unit present in this region. SCI-FI is the second SIDBI-funded incubator in Uttar Pradesh after a similar facility at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K). The SIDBI Innovation and Incubation Centre (SIIC) at IIT-K is billed as one of India's leading technology start-up incubators. It was set up in 2001 and has so far supported over 65 start-up projects.