This article is part of The Chhattisgarh Story series (coming soon to YourStory).
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh on Friday inaugurated 36Inc, the first government-supported startup incubation centre in the state. He also launched a number of new products developed by startup entrepreneurs, including Mediklik, a mobile app for healthcare in Hindi and Chhattisgarhi languages; career guidance solution myaglakadam.com in Chhattisgarhi language, GoVatsa Bioproducts for agricultural work; Divyaang, a tricycle service for the differently-abled, ScholarBuzz for the education sector, and online market guide raipurbazar.com.
The Chief Minister felicitated the startups that were chosen to be part of the incubation programme’s first cohort.
Addressing the gathering, Ramanan Ramanathan, Mission Director, Atal Innovation Mission, said that 36 Inc has been selected as one of the three non-academic incubators to be built by the Central Government under the Atal Innovation Mission.
“We had received over 2,000 applications. The idea is world class startups can come from this incubator, and can serve not only the state but the entire world.”
Alex Paul Menon, Chief Executive Officer of Chips (Chhattisgarh Infotech Promotion Society), in a chat with YourStory, said
“The vision is really to have a few unicorns come out of 36Inc. We want this incubator to run independently; we have a CEO running this place and he has full authority. We want them to create an ecosystem.”
State-of-the art amenities
The 36Inc incubation centre, located at the City Center Mall in Pondi and spread across 30,000 square feet, is the second largest in the country with 200 workstations and a host of other state-of-the-art amenities, including several meeting rooms, an auditorium and cafeteria. More importantly, startups housed here will have access to mentorship and guidance from a team that comes with extensive experience both in India and abroad.
A total of 43 startups are part of the first two-year-long cohort and are working on a variety of sectors including edtech, drone technology, e-commerce and others. The incubator has several specialised labs for the startups, including the Fabled, which is part of the MIT Fablab network. It will be equipped with 3D printers, a CNC (computer numerical control) machine, laser cutter and other tools to enable rapid prototyping. The centre also houses a multimedia lab, an electronics testing lab and an Internet of Things (IoT) lab.
36Inc, equipped with high-speed Internet access, will help startups with business basics, accounting and finance management, network activities, marketing assistance and intellectual property management. Startups will have a platform to access bank loans, funds and guarantee programmes. They will get access to strategic partners, angel investors or venture capital, and advisory boards and mentors. Other facilities include technology commercialisation assistance and help with regulatory compliance.
A crucial part of the programme is tie-ups with the National Entrepreneur Network (NEN), which will give startups access to industry mentors and also conduct several workshops at the incubator. There is also a tie-up with the University of Byers Centre for Biodesign to help those entrepreneurs interested in grassroots healthcare innovations.
Modes of equity and debt financing
An in-house angel fund as well as the Leap of Faith Revolving Fund (LoFR), will provide up to Rs 50 lakh of a three-year, interest-free loan for selected startups. Apart from this, there is also a Rs 100 crore state venture capital fund for the startups.
Others present at the inaugural function included Minister of Industry Amar Agarwal, Chhattisgarh State Industrial Development Corporation (CSIDC) President Chagan Mundhra, Chief Secretary Ajai Singh, IT Principal Secretary Aman Singh, IT Secretary Sanjay Shukla, Chhattisgarh Infotech Promotion Society (Chips) CEO Alex Paul Menon and 36 Inc CEO Rajiv Roy.