Kerala's very own 'Maker Village'

Treading a new path is a tough task.

Published: 11th January 2019 10:14 PM  |   Last Updated: 12th January 2019 07:23 PM   |  A+A-

Pic  A Sanesh

Express News Service

KOCHI: Treading a new path is a tough task. And, in an eco-system where new endeavours often find too many hurdles, the challenges are manifold. That is where Maker Village, the electronic hardware incubator, scripts a success story.The joint venture of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of Kerala and Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management Kerala (IIITMK) and based at Kerala Technology Innovation Zone, KINFRA Hi-Tech Park, Kalamassery,  Maker Village is a launch pad for many innovative ventures.  

On Sunday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will officially inaugurate the Integrated Startup Complex. 

The story so far

 The project started with just four startups in 2015 now boasts of  65 companies and of them, 17 have bagged purchase orders in last one year. In addition, 25 patents are also filed.

"The primary aim was to create a sustainable hardware  eco-system. As a hardware startup's project cycle is a bit long and complex, we have to ensure various resources like labs, equipment, materials and mentoring. We are helping the entrepreneurs to make prototypes out of their ideas, gain patents, bring the products to markets and win purchase orders," said Prasad Balakrishnan Nair, CEO,  Maker Village.

While most ventures get an extravagant launch at the nascent stage, Maker Village was different. "We made significant groundwork, development and contributions before the official launch. We aimed at establishing a comprehensive one-roof facility for electronic hardware startups," he said. 
A collective effort of the stakeholder also proved helpful for the Maker Village in three years. 

NIDHI PRAYAS - Department of Science and Technology's project to facilitate early-stage startups and Kerala IT department's proactive role in removing hurdles helped Maker Village. "As it is a 52-crore project by MeitY, the state government has given us full support. Though it is implemented in other centres like IIT-Delhi, IIT-Patna and IIT-Hyderabad, we have achieved great results among all," said  Prasad Balakrishnan Nair.

A different approach
Compared to a software startup, resource requirement, funding, product life cycle are completely different in hardware. "A comprehensive approach encompassing public institutions, market and corporates are required to build up a successful venture. Ensuring the availability of all these is the biggest challenge and the lack of it is what pulled us back till date," said Prasad. 

Maker village hasn't had any outsourced work till date. It was all about nourishing fresh ideas through cutting edge technologies. "Every Maker Village ventures have gone through the painstaking process of realising the entrepreneur's dream. Considering the usual period of four years to receive a purchase order, achieving them within a short span of time has gained us recognition," said Prasad. 

Future plans
Aiming at the future, Maker Village has grand plans at its arsenal. The institution is preparing to establish international centres of excellence with special focus areas. The institution is also reaching out to international markets to place its products. "We want to make this institution at par with international counterparts. As a start, we are partnering with global giant Altair Engineering to establish a centre of excellence in Engineering and Design. We are reaching out many such multi-national players for future tie-ups," he added.  

Attracting outside companies
When many complain about entrepreneurs moving out of the state, Maker village sets a new benchmark by attracting many to Kerala.  "Three companies have shifted their base to Maker Village from outside India and 10 companies from other states have also moved into the institution. Though it isn't a significant figure, we are transforming the going out brigade into coming back brigade," asserted Prasad.

Established in 2015
65 startup companies within four years
17 companies bagged purchase orders
25 patents filed Centres of excellence and Market collaborations on the anvil

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