In a first, the Gujarat Government is all set to announce a new startup policy in the next 15 days especially for technology start-ups where private incubators and accelerators are expected to play a role in creating a start-up ecosystem in the state. With this policy- the Gujarat government is looking to facilitate at least 2000 start-ups that have availed a minimum one round of VC (Venture Capital) funding, to establish at least 100 incubators in Gujarat, develop 2 million sq.ft of ‘incubation space’ and facilitate investment (VC funding) of USD 1 billion to start-ups in the next 5 years.
Even as the policy awaits the state government’s approval, Dhananjay Dwivedi (IAS) secretary, science & technology while speaking on the sidelines of a start-up summit in the city on Friday said, “Globally if you look at the incubation space, most of the large corporations also have incubators and accelerator programmes. We would want to be able to give that opportunity as we don’t want to be limited in considering only universities.
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That’s the only way you can bring in the corporations into the start-up ecosystem. We are also clubbing students of third and final year who have do their project as part of academic curriculum as potential start-up promoters, so we can give them an opportunity under the academic environment with the guidance and mentorship of the institution to work on their dream projects…We are planning to support more than 2000 entrepreneurs in next 5 years that have crossed the first stage of VC funding, then we can say that here is a genuine start-up and we will support it. Any start-up that comes and sets their base in Gujarat is welcome. The older start-up policy will stay, but it will stay limited only to processes not to product or new technology start-ups.”
A presentation shared by the bureaucrat cited that while there are 5,000 ‘start-up incubators’ world over, India has only 102 such facilities and Gujarat accounts for just about 16 of these facilities. A start-up policy was introduced for the first time as part of the state’s new Industrial policy last year but had faced flak for non-implementation and for its focus on manufacturing and delay in approvals. Under it, the state’s industries commissionerate had launched a scheme for assistance to start ups/innovations in state with the approval of nodal institutes most of which were educational institutions.
“As per the old start up policy, we have currently recognised 18 incubators in state and another 18 will be recognised soon. More than 100 start-ups have been mentored under the start-up assistance scheme, who had registered through incubators. Our state policy will compliment Govt of India’s ‘Start Up India policy’ and while it wont be the same, in terms of recognition of what is a start-up- there is no difference. The current start-up policy that the industries department recognises incubators only at an institutional level, we do not recognise non-education institution incubators and now we are going to change that in our new policy. So you can have corporations, industry associations running and managing incubators. So once the policy comes out the process of approval will become easy,” Dwivedi added.
Among incentives for incubators in the new policy include assistance for capital, mentoring, sustenance, for procurement of software, stamp duty & registration fee reimbursement and incentives for power tariff and electricity duty. A few features that mark the new start-up policy would be lease rental subsidy, interest subsidy, patent assistance, bandwidth subsidy, assistance for marketing & product development among others. In terms of equity support, start-ups may also be able to avail additional 25% of raised capital from Gujarat Venture Finance Limited (GVFL) on the same terms within 6 months.
Under the aegis of Vibrant Gujarat 2017, the state government is also planning 2 national level technology summits including one in August that will see 4000 start ups, accelerators, incubators, VC’s and mentors converge at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. A national conference on technology where IT, electronics and BT will be focus areas will be held on 30th September-1st October.