ICC Event Reviews Kerala’s Startup Ecosystem
Thiruvananthapuram: Acknowledging the vibrant startup ecosystem in Kerala being nurtured with the ample backing of Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) organised ICC Kerala Startup Meet 2019 at hotel Hilton Garden Inn in Thiruvananthapuram on June 13. The first-of-its-kind event oraganised by the commerce body in Kerala was themed on ‘Ideate, Innovate, Implement’.
The one-day event included technical sessions, keynote speeches and idea pitching session by startups which had registered for the event. The morning session, Challenges and Solutions for Funding of Startups & MSMEs, was chaired by Dr. Saji Gopinath, CEO, KSUM. P K Gopalakrishnan, Member, Indian Angel Network; B Jyothikumar, Executive Director, Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC); Suresh Babu A S, Director, Innovations Endeavours India; M R Narayanan, MD, Poovar Island Resort and Joseph Tharun, Manager, Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) took part in the deliberations.
Following the session, Dr. Anil Balakrishnan, Head CSR, Adani Foundation, AdaniVizhinjam Ports led a session on the CSR and entrepreneur handholding activities of Adani Foundation.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the event, Rajesh Jha, MD & CEO, AdaniVizhinjam Ports said: “I am really confident that with the young population and Technopark in the near vicinity, there will be a lot of startups here which will be collaborating with Vizhinjam Seaport, creating a massive and vibrant ecosystem.”
Sanjeev Kaushik, Chairman and MD, Kerala Financial Corporation (KFC) delivered the inaugural address. Speaking about startups, he said that it is important for the investors to realise that some of the startup experiments will be successful while some may fail. “However, it is important that you learn from each experiment and innovation,” he said.
“The theme of the session is Ideation, Innovation and Implementation. I must congratulate ICC for coming up with this theme because it is a very relevant topic in the growth story of the country. People here are smart and they are good at ideating and innovating. However, we encounter problems when it comes to the implementing stage where execution and delivery are very important,” he added.
There are many success stories in Kerala’s startup ecosystem. However, absence of a formal hand-holding mechanism to guide the startups was pointed out as a major shortcoming of the ecosystem. “What we see generally is that if there is an absence of consistent hand-holding mechanism, these bright youngsters are likely to lose track. Hence, it is very important to have a formal hand-holding mechanism to guide startups. This is something we currently lack in India,” the KFC chief observed. He also pointed out that developed countries such as the US have agencies like Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) for angel hand-holding of fresh enterprises.
Last year KFC announced a slew of schemes to provide financial assistance to startups. Sanjeev Kaushik, however, criticised SIDBI terming it not ‘‘entrepreneur-friendly”. “It is important to do some soul-searching as to why our schemes are so bureaucratic. Is it because the schemes are designed by some bureaucrats who sit in the ministry? Unless we improve that framework to support startups from ideation stage to implementation, we will not be able to achieve the objectives of schemes like ‘Make in India’ or ‘Stand up India’,’’ he said citing the example of China which gave shape to ‘Make in China’ programme almost the same time ‘Make in India’ project was launched.
Debmalya Banerjee, Regional Director, ICC also spoke at the inaugural session. Startups I Boson Innovation, Mibiz Consultancy Services, Sastra Robotics and Indo Grace E-commerce pitched ideas in the live idea pitching session.
P K Gopalakrishnan and Ajay Prabhu, members, Indian Angel Network; Dr. Anil Balakrishnan; Roy Verghese, Senior Partner, Roy Verghese& Associates; Robin Alex Panicker, entrepreneur and investor and Debmalya Banerjee were the jury members of the idea pitching session.
Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has been working pro-actively towards creating a conducive and sustainable environment to enable the social, industrial and economic growth of the country through policy advocacy and consulting services. The event organised by ICC was partnered by KSIDC, KSUM, SIDBI, KFC, SREI and Indian Angel Network. Destination Kerala was the Magazine Partner.