THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The much neglected rural entrepreneurship in technology gets a boost after IT companies extend support to such ventures. UST Global has taken up the lead in supporting companies registered with Trivandrum Technolodge, an incubation project in Trinity College of Engineering located in the suburbs of Thiruvananthapuram city. Though there has been instances of IT companies supporting student startups it is the first time that IT companies are mentoring rural entrepreneurs.
Infinity Labs, an innovation arm of UST Global will provide mentorship to startups incubated at Trivandrum Technolodge, an incubation project of Trinity College of Engineering, located in the suburbs of Thiruvananthapuram, which was opened on Thursday. Technolodge is a project of state government to promote IT in rural areas. It is managed by Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd which lends the brand name to private entities that meet the criteria. Though the project has come up in Piravom, Kannur, Muvattupuzha and Kottayam it is the first time that an IT company is supporting it. Lack of proper support environment led to the closure of many Technolodge projects.
“This is the first time we are associating with a Technolodge project. We help budding entrepreneurs in technology, business model and strategy. Rural areas in the state have better maker community,” said head of Innovations, UST Global, Gokul Alex. According to him supporting rural entrepreneurship is in line with UST’s vision of distributed innovation model.
Another Technopark-based global engineering solutions provider, QuEST Global, is keen to support the businesses of even those with non-academic background. “We are open to supporting such ventures if they align with core verticals of our gagacompany,” said vice president and centre head, QuEST Global, Thiruvananthapuram, S Narayanan. The company has recently conducted a national-level competition to sieve out the best engineering brains. The startup wave that the IT sector witnessed in the state has so far excluded students and entrepreneurs from the rural areas. The support of global IT companies is seen as a plus for the developing business eco system.
“UST Global’s support is a huge positive for startups. Big companies supporting startups create a win-win situation for both. While the former gets an eco system to support their business the latter gets real time business expertise to scale up. It is the way forward,” said CEO of Kerala Startup Mission, Saji Gopinath. According to him the model has been successfully implemented in developed countries.
Trivandrum Technolodge offers incubation space for around 20 companies. The companies can use the modern lab facilities such as infrastructure for manufacturing. technical services, smart space and mentorship available here. Design and hardware startups can use automation garage provided by UST Global. “UST Global has supported student initiatives such as driverless car and under water drones. In Technolodge we have already received enquiries from two rural entrepreneurs who are in the field of electronics,” said principal of Trinity College of Engineering Arun Surendran.
An entire floor (5,000 square feet) of the multi-storied campus has been dedicated for the office requirements of the startups. The space can accommodate 20 startups having a team of 5 each. “We have been promoting entrepreneurship among our faculty members and students. The college provides mentorship besides helping them with the lab facilities required for their work. We want the college to be the one stop centre for engineering solution,” said Arun Surendran.
The college offers services like manufacturing lab facilities, technical services, smart space and mentorship. The startup centre will be open 24x7. The office space and facilities are available for a rent of Rs 5,000 per month for first year of operation. The college has only one condition though- recruit freshers or interns from Trinity when the startups expand operation.