WHILE THE Chandigarh administration, in its revised Smart City proposal, has set its sights on developing the city as a start-up incubation hub, its track record in this sector is nothing to write home about.
Chandigarh’s ambitious Entrepreneur Development Centre (EDC) has failed to attract budding entrepreneurs. Set up at the Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park (RGCTP), the EDC, built at a cost of Rs 18 crore and inaugurated in 2009, has a total of 19 bays covering over 20,000 square feet. Only three of these bays, however, are currently occupied. And even of the three, one company is vacating by next month. A total of 11 bays, fully furnished, are reserved for start-ups while the remaining eight are for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
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Since its inception, the four-storey centre has struggled to attract young entrepreneurs despite repeated attempts at inviting applications. The norm of allotting bays on the basis of bidding, however, is being seen as one of the main reasons for the centre failing to attract start-ups.
The owner of a company, operating from the centre, said the tenure of three years, that the firms are allowed to stay, is another reason for the lack of interest. “The administration needs to increase the period as three years is too short. By the time, a company starts establishing itself, it has to leave,” said the owner on request of anonymity. Not only that, the bays allegedly have a faulty design and lack proper ventilation system.
UT director (information technology) Prince Dhawan though said the administration is in the process of changing the allotment process to attract young entrepreneurs. “Our aim is to give space to budding companies and not to firms just looking for office space at low rents,” Dhawan said.
In its revised Smart City proposal, the administration has laid stress on its plans to develop the city as a incubation and knowledge hub. Chandigarh has promised to facilitate financial assistance, technical support and knowledge sharing to budding entrepreneurs and has proposed to develop itself as a knowledge hub by creating a platform for collaboration among all its major institutions such as Panjab University, Punjab Engineering College, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Research and Education (PGIMER ) and the Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH).
The administration is planning to come up with a centre for innovation and start-ups. Space for the centre has been earmarked at the Government Press building. Despite failing to make it to the first 20 cities to be developed as a smart city, Chandigarh figures on the list of 23 cities of which 20 will be put on fast track. These fast-track cities will get the same funds as smart cities and will have to re-submit their proposals for this purpose by April 15.