Q & A with K C Chandrashekharan Nair, CFO-Technopark and Secretary & Registrar, Technopark TBI
Kerala to have around 500 incubated companies in the next 5 years.
Q: How do you start your day at work?
A: Along with the daily chores at work, I normally go through various websites and news bytes which are focused on major innovations and technological developments in India and abroad and try to understand the approach and methodology used for these innovations to take place. I also meet two sets of people on a daily basis, which include students and innovators. Students normally come to meet me to discuss various ideas and means by which they can innovate something new and innovators normally come with their prototype and presentation which we discuss and show them a way forward to our incubation lab where they can work and change this idea in to reality. We provide them with our full support as and when required and also assist them in possible ways by which they can execute their plan for the project undertaken.
There are also many other responsibilities which are put on my shoulders which keeps me busy all day and gives me a great pleasure to be able to fulfill all my commitments on time.
Q: How did the idea evolve for setting up Technopark TBI, what was that one prominent thing which led to it.
A: The story behind setting up Technopark TBI is quite funny. It goes back to 2005 when our then CEO Mr. Jayakumar received an invitation from Department of Science and Technology, GoI to attend a 7-day seminar on Incubation. Due to some personal emergency, Mr Jayakumar could not make it at the last minute and I was asked to represent Technopark. Since it was last minute, I had to travel in Mr. Jayakumar’s ticket and attended the event in his name. For me this event was a good escape from my daily routine at office and posed an opportunity to learn something totally new. Around 1000 people attended this event and topic caught my interest and therefore I sat through the entire sessions and researched on each topic to gain more insight.
On returning to Trivandrum I discussed this with my CEO and decided to set up an incubation center. We drafted a business proposal. We were initially assisted by Mr H K Mittal, head of DST who helped us in sending the application and clear formalities which we were required to fulfill in order to start an incubation center here. The proposal was accepted and we received our first funding from the government in 2006. Since then there has been no looking back.
Q: The first company that got incubated through Technopark TBI?
A: The first company which got incubated was called Torque known as “MOBME” now. It has its offices located in 22 cities and the very company now plans to help the startup companies and provides them assistance in investment and marketing called Startup Village in collaboration with Kinfra, and Technopark TBI which will focus on telecom incubating companies.
Q: What were some of the new initiatives which you brought in and how many companies were incubated at TBI?
A: There were quite number of new initiatives which we started at Technopark TBI some of them were:
- Technopark TePP outreach centre (T-TUC) for helping the innovators in seeking Seed Funding from DSIR and DST,
- The National Centre for Innovation Incubation & Entrepreneurship (NCIIE)
- Technopark Software Engineering Competency Centre (TSECC)
- Technopark Commercialization Facilitation Agency (T-TCFA)
Currently there are around 135 companies which have incubated including 5 companies under co incubation, 11 been under cross continental incubation, we also started the TEPP program to which we have around 37 innovators.
Q: How does Technopark TBI help students in starting their own companies?
A: We normally open two types of centers inside colleges and universities they are the TBI extension centers where in university students can register for incubation inside the colleges itself we also have IEDS centers where in a college can have its own incubated lab where it can work on its innovation and is provided with fund from Govt of India via us. We also do carry out an entrepreneurship awareness camp in various colleges of Kerala and educate students on developing their idea all the possible support right from providing them infrastructural facility to how they can market their project. It’s a complete grinding work which we do with the students and help them become CEO’s of projects started by them.
Q: What role does Technopark TBI play in Startup Village?
A: Initially Start up village was named as Indian Telecom Incubation Hub, this was a project started by me and Sanjay (CEO MOB Me) and the funding was to be directed from DST ( Dept of Science and Technology, New Delhi). This is the first PPP( Public Private Partnership ) model sanctioned by DST all over India. In other words Technopark TBI is the creators and MobME the inspiratory. Initially funding was to be managed by Technopark TBI but as I have additional responsibilities there has been a new management of TBI started in Kochi who would look after the financial requirements for Startup Village.
Q: Being a part of Technopark and TBI your vision on Kerala IT 2020?
A: My vision for Kerala IT 2020 would be to start TBI in different domain not necessarily in IT we should have 25 different TBI in different areas of Kerala and around 500 incubating companies in the next 5 years from now. Each district of Kerala should have a TBI, Trivandrum is famous in IT and NRI hence should have companies incubated in relation to this, Kollam has cashew production, Alleppey in coir, Ernakulam in sea food, Kottayam – rubber, Idukki- spices, Kannur- handlooms, Palakad- agriculture, Kozhikode- bamboo, Thrissur- diamond and other jewelry. We can associate with National or State govt bodies who are promoting this in their district and I can open an incubation lab there in the space provided by these centers to help the rural and student population of that particular region. This will not only help in providing economic stability to the state but would also create employment opportunities for people of Kerala on a whole.
By Anupam Luthra