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IT Dreams of Logging on to Rural Pockets

Published: 20th October 2014 06:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th October 2014 06:08 AM   |  A+A-

KOCHI: Resurrecting from oblivion, ‘technolodges’ or rural IT parks are hurtling ahead to make their presence felt in the IT space in Kerala. Envisaged around seven years ago, technolodges aim to disseminate the opportunities generated by the IT industry to the rural areas in the state. The first technolodge was set up at Kadakkal in Kollam district three years ago, and another such facility was launched at Kundara later. There was also a plan to start one at Celia, that too in Kollam district. However, all the technolodges fell by the wayside. Now spreading a new glimmer of hope, the technolodges at Piravom in Ernakulam district and the Kannur Central Technolodge are firing on all cyclinders. Started in 2013, Piravom Technolodge now houses 32 companies, and Kannur Central, which was launched a couple of months ago, has two companies functioning in it. Taking the Piravom model to the next level, an agropark - the first Agri-food Business Incubation Centre in Kerala - will be inaugurated at Piravom on October 21. Industry experts point out that each district in Kerala has its own unique industries and launching technolodges to start companies in these sectors and looking beyond the IT space are the key factors to spread the entrepreneurship culture in the state. “It is a fact that we could not attract people to start enterprises at the technolodges in Kerala during the initial stage. The state government has not abandoned the project. We are making all efforts to attract talents to these rural IT Park facilities,” said Industries and IT Minister P K Kunhalikutty. As the state targets to achieve up to 5,00,000 direct employment in the ICT sector by 2020, experts point out that creating rural IT infrastructure has a major role to play in this regard. “The technolodge project was launched in the state without carrying out proper market study. Also, local bodies were entrusted with the management of the technolodges. But, they do not have the expertise to manage these facilities, which has finally led to the closure of technolodges. “In Piravom and Kannur, the idea clicked very well and poses scope for further scaling up. The total IT Business, both domestic and export, in the state is worth around $1.2 billion. With the contribution from rural IT space by starting more Technolodges, it can easily be doubled in two years,” said K C Chandrasekharan Nair, Registrar, Technopark-TBI. He pointed out that the incubation facility should not be limited to the IT space as each district in Kerala is known for specific industries and segments. The IT Policy of the Kerala Government states that the rural IT hubs will give more visibility to smaller towns and project them as investment destinations. “The fact is that people are not willing to relocate to Kerala.And if they do, they prefer to be in Kochi or in Thiruvanathapuram. “This is the major reason why the technolodges in Kerala failed to take off. But, the situation is likely to change in the future,” said P H Kurian, Principal Secretary, IT-Kerala.

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