[ This article is part of a new series called Startup Hatch, about incubators and accelerators in the startup ecosystem. ]
Hosted in Bangalore’s Electronics City, the IIIT-B Innovation Centre is a hub for ICT research, innovation and enterprise. Founded in 2009, it works on proposals developed at IIITB -- as well as from outside, provided faculty and students of the institute are willing to partner with the promoter of the idea and establish an enterprise. According to the incubator’s rules, exits must happen within three to five years.
The IIITB Innovation Centre is headed by Dr. S. Rajagopalan, who received his B.Tech degree from IIT Delhi and Ph.D from IIT Kanpur. He was the CEO of the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology from 1982 to 1993. In 1993 he co-founded Technology Informatics Design Endeavour (TIDE), focusing on rural ICT4D. Dr Rajagopalan has been working in the area of geographical information systems since 1989 and founded Mapcue in 1999, a spatial data company. His areas of interest include innovation dissemination, economics of innovations, and economics of information technologies.
The Centre is managed by D.V. Jagadish, CEO, Outreach, who has a B.E. (Mech) from BMS College of Engineering, Bangalore and a PGDM from IIM Bangalore with a specialisation in marketing. He has worked in the IT industry for close to three decades in companies such as Wipro, SAP, FirstApex and IBM. At IIIT Bangalore, Jagadish is responsible for its outreach programs such as professional education, consulting, placement and alumni program.
In this exclusive interview, Jagadish shares the vision of the Incubator, profiles of the incubated companies, and views on the startup ecosystem in India.
Q: What was the founding vision of your incubator, and how is it supported?
A: The vision of the Incubator is to foster innovation and a spirit of entrepreneurship. Specifically, this happens through creation of IP and support of novel ICT ideas, especially products. The vision is also to leverage technology expertise of faculty, students and the IIITB ecosystem for the benefit of startups. Seed capital is provided by the Department of IT; facilities, support resources and mentoring are provided by IIITB.
Q: What support is given to incubator companies?
A: Support to each incubated unit includes workspace with connectivity, and access to Institute facilities like library, meeting rooms and labs. Startups can get students to work as interns, who can be hired after they graduate. The faculty provides consulting and mentorship services in preparation of business plans, proposal appraisal, and prototype development. We also advise on IPR and legal advice, networking with industry, and documentation for legal and tax compliance.
Q: How many companies did you start off with, and which ones are you incubating now?
A: The roster of incubator companies includes Radix, Mapunity, Promedik, RIT, Kollabia, Bitsat, Kenapps, Diginoc, Cloud9, Redmed, Chipmonk, Eureka, FreeEnergy, Fields of View, and Hudooku. Tables 1 and 2 provide profiles of these startups.
Table 1: Companies currently being incubated at IIITB Innovation Centre
Table 2: Companies previously incubated at IIITB Innovation Centre
Q: What are the selection criteria for startups in your incubator?
A: We look first for the novelty of the idea, as well as scope for creation of IP, and scalability of business. Being an academic research institute, we also look for an opportunity for faculty and students to engage the startups in projects.
Q: What kinds of IP are being created by your startups?
A: Our startups are creating IP in the form of diagnostic devices for the healthcare sector, cloud based ERP for the education sector, an online music collaboration platform and glare-free automotive headlamps.
Q: How would you differentiate your incubator from the other incubators in the field?
A: We are easy to do business with, and are networked with other leading incubators. There is a good ecosystem effect here, thanks to technology skills available in the Institute and our location in Bangalore’s Electronics City.
Q: What would you define as success for your incubator?
A: We are successful if we have effective product and IP development, revenue generation and startups’ exit in three years.
Q: How do you compare and contrast India’s incubators with that of other countries like US and China?
A: Indian incubators are a more recent phenomenon in the country. Funding is smaller, and it is quite hard to get new product ideas in India.
Q: What are your plans for the coming 3-5 years with respect to new startups?
Q: We are seeking funds to be able to support larger scale startups. We want to set up a hardware development facility, and launch programs in developing a products mindset.
Q: What would you say are the Top Three opportunities for Indian startups?
1. Developing a products mindset.
2. Access to global markets
3. Growing adoption in mobile apps
Q: What are the key challenges faced by startups in India?
1. Not having a products mindset and skillset!
2. Sales and marketing skills
3. Global scaling
Q: What are your recommendations for Indian policymakers to make business easier for incubators, investors, researchers and startups in India?
A: We advise them to continue encouraging entrepreneurs, build PPP models, and provide support in sales and marketing globally.
Q: What are your recommendations to the startups and entrepreneurs in our audience?
A: Define the problem statement and benefits proposition sharply. Do better business planning before starting product development. Look to stay the course rather than plan for a quick exit!
[Follow YourStory's research director Madanmohan Rao on Twitter http://twitter.com/MadanRao]