Facing flak for non-implementation of the ‘new’ start-up policy, the state government with 15 state-based organisations held a first-of-its kind meet to discuss the nuances of the policy that saw attendance by incubators, networking groups, start-ups, university heads and entrepreneurs from Gujarat.
“Till now not a single rupee has been spent or disbursed by way of this policy…We had made the start-up policy with an emphasis on manufacturing and services oriented outlook as Gujarat is basically a manufacturing state. But we will tweak the policy in a month’s time to include social entrepreneurship also as it has emerged in our discussions for the first time…During our recent Chintan Shibir, a small session on start ups was done and we discussed how to proceed on this sector in years to come and which is why we organised this meeting. We are ready to come up with amendments if new ideas can be done,” said Patel at the event.
The finance minister, however, did not mention how many nodal institutes have been empowered or have sought registration to be able to aid early stage start-ups under this policy.
The policy aims to empower nodal institutes which would like to undertake start-ups, which includes educational institutes, incubation centers, PSU’s, R&D institutions to whom the state government would disburse funds by way of which entrepreneurs can avail of them after their idea has been approved, explained Patel.
Even as a copy of the policy was circulated at the event, its assistance scheme of supporting the innovator/entrepreneur with Rs 10,000 per month as sustenance allowance garnered criticism galore from many in the audience, including Rakesh Basant, senior faculty member at IIM-Ahmedabad and chairperson of the CIIE(Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship) at IIMA.
Batting for ‘decentralization’ and easing regulations for early stage start-ups to get access to funds, Basant said, “There seems to be an underlying assumption that all start-ups need to go through a process and require funding at different stages and the assumption that state needs to come in at every stage to figure out whether things are going the right way. If we need this to work then we need to go back to the AP and Kerala policies…. and let the start up and institution decide where he wants to spend the seed fund. Another problem for me is the Rs 10,000 fellowship might bring in entrepreneurs who are not really the right ones. It basically creates an incentive to become an entreprenuer…Entrepreneurs don’t need a salary and these fellowships should not start entrepreneurship on salary mode.”
Issues like single window clearance, differentiating between MSME and start-ups, creation of a start-up ecosystem, linking of academic institutions in the city among others came up during the open session at the meet. A comparison of the start-up policies of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala and their effectiveness was also done.
The state’s industries commissioner Mamta Verma who was present at the event, said that a screening committee of professionals and government representatives may also be set up to oversee policy implementation.