The Chief Minister exhorted young entrepreneurs to use digital technologies to not just transform their own lives, but also transform the state of Rajasthan.
Rajasthan is now home to India’s biggest incubation and acceleration centre. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Thursday inaugurated the Bhamashah Techno Hub, a state-of-the-art facility in Jaipur, which can house up to 700 early-stage startups.
After a tour of the newly built, 1 lakh sq ft facility that boasts of tinkering labs for product development, a digital museum and other facilities, the Chief Minister addressed a large gathering of young and enthusiastic startups, mentors, students and others:
“We are the best in the country and I am lucky to have a team that was able to fulfill a vision that I had in 2004. When we started then we weren’t sure how we would bring in digital transformation to the remotest corners of Rajasthan. But when we came back to power in 2013, we got back all our initiatives from the back burner and have worked towards a Digital Rajasthan.”
Mohandas Pai, Chairman, Manipal Global Education, congratulated and praised Rajasthan on the launch of Bhamashah Techno Hub. “Rajasthan is better than my state in digital revolution,” said Pai. He went on to urge entrepreneurs to create 5,000 startups that would employ 1 lakh people in the next five years.
Rajasthan has decided to provide the facilities free of cost so that entrepreneurs can focus on developing and scaling their solutions, without having to worry about infrastructure of any kind.
“The incubation centre will not charge any kind of fee from startups as well as entrepreneurs and shall provide free facilities, unlike a T-Hub in Hyderabad which charges a fee for different facilities,” said Akhil Arora, Principal Secretary, Department of Information Technology & Communication, in a press statement.
Close to 200 startups are already working out of Bhamashah Techno Hub and more will move in shortly. These startups, a part of the government’s iStart programme, have some unique facilities available to them, also without any charge, as part of an end-to-end support system:
- A pool of over 50 full-time, onsite mentors that provide guidance and assessment
- Banking support, operational advice and guidance related to intellectual property rights and applying for patents
- World-class amenities that include individual and shared offices, sleeping pods, meeting rooms with videoconference facilities, tinkering labs, etc.
The iStart programme also includes regular workshops, bootcamps, expert sessions, access to investors, pitching sessions, among others
After touring the facility, the Chief Minister spoke to the entrepreneurs, encouraging them to make the best use of the opportunities available, saying,
“In the fulfillment of your dreams lies the fulfilment of dreams of Rajasthan. Dream big. We want an army of youngsters to create a Rajasthan that doesn’t look back but looks forward and creates the best state of the country. The best is still to come.”
As part of the launch and inauguration, iStart had organised a series of talks, workshops and expert sessions a day earlier for resident entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs wanting to enter the programme. Speakers included Aloke Bajpai, CEO of ixigo, Shuchin Bajaj, CEO of Cygnus Hospitals, Saurabh Jain, VP (Build for India) at Paytm, Himanshu Rattan of KPMG, KC Ayyagiri of Google India and Shuchita Barnwal, Head of Design at OYO Rooms among others. Following the inauguration, iStart conducted a series of bootcamps for early-stage entrepreneurs.
Rajasthan launched its Startup Policy in 2015, much before most other states, and has allocated Rs 500 crore for investments in early-stage startups in the form of either equity or soft loans. It is the only state to have a dedicated fund for women entrepreneurs (Rs 100 crore) and for green initiatives (Rs 50 crore). In addition to the Bhamashah Techno Hub, the programme also runs the iStart Nest facilities to house emerging businesses across Jaipur, Kota, Udaipur, and an upcoming one in Jodhpur, taking incubation infrastructure to even smaller cities and towns, again free of cost. It also provides entrepreneurs with a monthly marketing and sustenance allowance to keep their venture going while they work on product/market fit and other initial challenges.