KOCHI: The arrival of Cerium Systems, a leading global design services company for Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) and embedded software, has spurred hopes of Kochi’s development as an international destination in hardware electronics.With Bengaluru, the IT hub of India, reaching the saturation point in development due to soaring life expenses and never ending traffic snarl ups, technology majors are eyeing tier II cities and Kochi stands a chance to cash in on the opportunity. It is the huge talent pool and Kerala’s track record as the safest, healthiest and most environment-friendly state that attracts industry majors to the state. The arrival of a major chip design company will attract more hardware giants to Kochi and what happened in Bengaluru 20 years ago will now happen in Kochi, feels industry experts.
Cerium Systems Co-founder and CEO Sudhakar Palisetti shares with The New Indian Express his thoughts on Kochi’s chances to develop as the next electronics hardware destination.
Why do you think Kochi has a future in hardware development?
The availability of skilled manpower and better socio-political climate will help to develop high-end manufacturing facility in the city. We want to leverage on Kochi’s strengths in human resources, startup ecosystem, high consumption and a proactive policy. We have experience in developing chips for large corporates.
Cerium has got a 600- strong design team in Bengaluru. As Bengaluru market is becoming more competitive we decided to move to tier II cities two years ago. The Maker Village has made great progress in creating one of the best startup ecosystems in the hardware domain. It is the ready-to-absorb manpower pool for electronic system design and manufacturing (ESDM) that provides Kochi the advantage.
How do you plan to tap Kochi’s potential?
The biggest challenge for chip design companies is spotting talent. We had moved some senior people with experience to Kochi two years ago. We developed some products here and our customers were happy with the product. So we decided to expand our facility in Kochi. Now we have moved around 30 people to Kochi and plan to grow as a 100-strong force within a year. Our team is very happy with the quality of life here. We have hired some freshers from some institutions in Kerala too. The state has some very good universities and we are able to tap good talent here.
So you will be recruiting more people this year. What is your plan to spot talent?
We have some employees from the universities in Kerala. They will visit their alma mater as alumni and get connected with the students and faculty. The company has tied up with Cusat, Thrikkakara Government Model Engineering College, Rajagiri Engineering College, MA College of Engineering at Kothamangalam, TKM Engineering College in Kollam and RIT in Kottayam. The productivity of the people who pass out of these institutions is aligned with this industry.
How do you find the support from the government in Kerala?
We interacted with IT secretary M Sivasankar who has been very supportive. He asked us to give feedback on the state IT policy and has assured to incorporate our suggestions into the policy. He was talking about developing the artificial intelligence sector and Cerium Systems can really help the state in this regard.
How can you help develop a vibrant hardware startup ecosystem in Kochi?
Startups need mentorship and have to reach out to the global market. Cerium Systems work globally with multiple corporates and we definitely will help them leverage our strength. The hardware ecosystem was there in Bengaluru by default and now Kochi stands a chance to enjoy the same investment climate.
How will this benefit the electronic hardware sector?
Chip is the primary component for hardware industry. Having the know-how to design a chip can significantly help system design. The US industry witnessed robust growth during the last 50 years because they had the semiconductors. This ecosystem brought the system level companies which was followed by the networking firms. If we have the basic facilities it will naturally provide an ambient atmosphere for next level development. If you have a strong semiconductor industry, you will grow as a better design house.