THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In what could be termed as a comeback for the start-up eco-system in the state, the technology startups based in other states have turned their focus to Kerala to invest in specific domains, including space technology and health care. In the past one year, around 30 startups owned by Keralites from metropolitan cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai and Hyderabad returned to Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi citing better working environment in terms of skilled manpower and low-cost infrastructure.
IT experts said the new trend is nothing but a positive reverse migration of startups which left the state due to lack of support.
Saji Gopinath, CEO, Kerala Startup Mission told Express around 30 startups have migrated to Kerala in the past one year as part of expanding operations.
He said the numbers keep on increasing due to the positive approach by the government on startups. He said the key reason for the reverse trend is due to the ‘Fund of funds’ strategy by the state government by providing funds for start-ups.
Under Kerala Startup Mission, there are 1,500-plus registered startups, 400,000-plus square feet of incubation space in various districts in the state.
A ‘Fund of funds’ (FOF) is an investment strategy of holding a portfolio of other investment funds rather than investing directly in stocks, bonds or other securities. “Many companies migrating to the state again have shown interest in niche segments such as space technology and electronic hardware. The proposed space tech park at Technocity and Maker Village at Kakkanad in Kochi have attracted many start-ups. It is a positive trend and more companies will be coming to the state. In Maker Village alone, 10 to 12 companies have already started operations”, Saji said.
He also pointed out the angel investors who registered in SEBI are keen to invest in Kerala based start-ups. Recently, the state start-ups have received funding of USD 38 million in 2017-18, according to the Kerala Startup Ecosystem Report 2018. Since 2016, there has been a steady increase in the fund flow that came to USD 15.72 million from the first six months.
Robin Alex Panicker, an entrepreneur, said the era of student start-ups has come to an end and the present start-ups are ‘matured’.
“We can call it matured start-ups as they had gone through all the hurdles and reached a matured level. These start-ups eye the specific domains such as healthcare or space technology. For instance, ‘I Love 9 months’, a healthcare start-up based in Bengaluru focusing on maternal requirements, has moved to Thiruvananthapuram. Similarly, a space-related start-up called Exceed has shown interest to start operations in the upcoming space park.
Apart from the relaxations being provided by the government, the private co-working spaces also encourage the other state start-ups to begin operations here,” Robin said. Under Kerala Startup Mission, there are 1,500-plus registered start-ups, 400,000-plus square feet of incubation space in various districts in the state.