In a major fillip to the startup ecosystem in the state, the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) is preparing to launch a product development centre, billed as one of the largest in South Asia, at the Technology Innovation Zone (TIZ) in Kalamassery, Kochi.
Named ‘Digital Hub’, the centre, set up in a two lakh sqft space with the capacity to support at least 200 startups, is set to be inaugurated virtually by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on September 18. An adjoining facility at the TIZ already supports over 160 startup firms.
The ‘Digital Hub’ will be home to a design incubator, healthcare incubator, Center for Excellence (CoE) for Mouser Electronics, design studios, co-working spaces, investors hive and an innovation centre, KSUM CEO John M Thomas said at a press conference Thursday. The development paves way for direct employment opportunities for 2500 people at the Hub.
The ‘Digital Hub’ is planned as a destination for designing and prototyping and open to global institutions to create world-class products, said Thomas.
It is considered critical in Kerala’s efforts to strengthen the end-to-end process of a product, from ideation to building a prototype for nascent startups. The state is already home to a Digital Fabrication Network, a Super Fablab, a hardware incubator named Maker Village and small-scale manufacturing clusters.
“The state machineries have taken efforts to democratise digital fabrication methods through such initiatives. This gives Kerala an opportunity to become the ideal destination for designing and prototyping,” Thomas said.
The CoE, as part of the Hub, has the potential to act as a one-stop centre for all product-design and other activities for software and hardware components, covering a wide range of new technologies like AI, IoT and AR/VR.
Thomas said Kerala’s ranking as a ‘top performer’ in 2019 by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) of the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry validated the state’s acceleration in the startup space.