KOCHI: Though employees are still hesitant to come back to their workplaces, instead of an expected dip in the demand for space the IT parks are seeing an upswing in inquiries. "And this is an indicator of the good times for the IT industry in the state," John M Thomas, CEO, IT Parks.
According to him, space inquiries are coming in good numbers and it is not because the companies need space. "This is because they are expecting growth," he added. At present, IT parks in the state have a combined built-up space of 20 million sq ft. "Another one crore sq ft is under construction. During the period 2020-26, IT parks in the state will see an increase in built-up space by 3 crore sq ft," he added.
"One has to look at the speed of growth in the IT sector. While it took us about three decades to hit the 2 crore sq ft, we are about to achieve half of that in the next five years. This would not have been possible without the private-public participation model," said John. As to the utilization of space, a two-pronged strategy will be adopted. One is to go in for an organic expansion by getting the existing companies to pick up more space and thereby generate more employment opportunities in the IT sector in the state, said John. "Another is to bring in new companies that have a lot of growth potential like the product companies. Besides this, we are also looking into bringing in captive companies. Like bringing in IT departments of non-IT companies," he said.
According to him, efforts are on to bring multinational companies that already have a base in the country to Kerala. "And for this, the state government is providing full support," he added. He said the export revenue from the three IT Parks stood at Rs 15,100 crore during 2021. "It will be in the range of Rs 18,000 crore to Rs 20,000 crore if the revenue of companies from outside the parks and non-export revenue were also taken into account," he added.
The Cyber Park at Kozhikode registered the biggest growth of 77 percent followed by Kochi's Infopark at 21 percent and Technopark at Thiruvananthapuram at 8 percent. "Technopark would have recorded much greater growth but for the temporary space constraints," said the IT Parks CEO.
As far as work from home is concerned, the companies are looking into the possibilities of bringing their employees back, he said. To bring back techies, IT Parks are planning to reinvent by focusing on three aspects - improving the overall surrounding ecosystem and access, and giving a facelift to the parks themselves.
"While we focused on developing IT infrastructure, we neglected the overall social ecosystem. We are giving a big push towards achieving that by facilitating quality supporting infrastructure in transportation, shopping, health, and education in association with the government and other stakeholders. Bringing more international flights to Thiruvananthapuram, providing walkways, cycle tracks, eco-friendly transportation are all part of it," said John.
"Parks will be given a facelift by plugging the gaps that stop them from developing the ambiance of most modern IT parks and by bringing in co-developers of international repute. He said proposals are being explored to facilitate angel funding to fill the funding gap for the development of startups. "We are also working towards the seamless transition of startups to IT Parks," said John, who also holds the temporary charge of the Kerala Startup Mission.