[Exclusive] Tata Joins Hands With CIIE's iAccelerator- With Srinivasa Addepalli, CSO, Tata Communications

12th Dec 2012
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Tata Communications, a leading provider of a New World of Communications, today announces its association with iAccelerator for the second consecutive year. A development programme for entrepreneurs and start-ups, iAccelerator is the flagship programme of the Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. Since its inception in 2009, the programme has supported 27

successful start-ups in the Internet and mobile space. Tata Communications continues to pledge its support to the programme by providing funding, mentorship and infrastructure, as part of its on-going initiative to nurture excellence and innovation in India.This year, the participating eight start-ups will go through a three-month residential program, where experts from Tata Communications and the industry will mentor them on business, infrastructure and investment. Beyond mentorship, Tata Communications will also provide International lease line and video conferencing tools to help the start-ups achieve their business goals for the programme.

In an exlusive interview with YourStory.in Tata Communication's Chief Strategy Officer Srinivasa Addepalli, he shared his thoughts on the partnership and Tata's vested interest in India's startup ecosystem.

YS: Tata had collaborated with iAccelarator last year as well. How different is the engagement this time around? 

Srini: It's not that different this time around. As usual, we will be supporting CIIE with capital and network infrastructure for the startups to use. We will also facilitate engagement of our managers with the startups on specific days where they will mentor the startups. What is different this year is that, we are also going to get our internal innovation team to learn and share knowledge with the startup in the hopes that they would bring back innovation and dynamism to the corporate system, which we dearly lack at the moment.

YS: What role does engagement with startups play in the overall strategy of Tata Communications? 

Srini: The biggest take away from this experience is to acquire knowledge about cutting edge technology relevant to us. Corporates don't usually do cutting edge work; we work in mature industries. These engagements will provide us valuable information about what's upcoming in the market and this will help us shaping our future strategies as well. We would never have got this exposure if not for such engagements.

Another soft takeaway is that these startups are tomorrows enterprises and this engagement will help us showcase our capabilities to them. It like a sales pitch for the future.

YS: Will Tata be investing in the companies as well? 

Srini: No, we won't be investing in the companies, however, we are open to collaboration and partnerships with the startups. To us this engagement is as a result of Tata's recent drive towards encouraging innovation.

YS: What are some exciting sectors according to you that startups today can capitalize on? 

Srini: I think both for startups and big companies, technology aided education is going to be a great space to work on. There is a large demand and supply gap for quality education and technology is poised to solve this problem. Other than this technology based healthcare also presents some amazing opportunities.

There has been a lot of emphasis on social media, infotainment and entertainment which I personally find very had to monetize, but the fore-mentioned sectors make a lot of business sense and also has a great social value attached to it.

YS: What are you looking to take away from this engagement?

Srini: I hope we can engage more with the startups. You can learn only that much by reading about them in various places, but we can learn a lot more by meeting these people face to face. It's about getting innovation back into the corporate environment.

 Stay tuned for more news from iAccelerator...

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