Source: Business Line

India: After jointly setting up the region-focused Gujarat Accelerator last year in Ahmedabad, IIM-A’s Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) and SAP Labs are now planning to replicate it in Jaipur and Pune.

“The idea is to catalyse the regional ecosystem,” said SAP Labs India Managing Director Dilipkumar Khandelwal as he, along with CIIE CEO Kunal Upadhyay, reviewed how the first batch of the Gujarat Accelerator programme had fared.

The two also announced the second edition of Gujarat Accelerator, inviting applications for the next batch.

Gujarat Accelerator is the first State-focused accelerator from CIIE. The goal of the programme is to mentor and build capacities of at least 30 early-stage start-ups in the State focussed on social innovations, by 2017, according to Khandelwal.

“In the past, CIIE accelerators had been sector-specific,” says Ashwini Joshi, Vice-President – Ecosystem Development, CIIE. SAP Labs was roped in to bring in the industry connect and technical inputs for the programme. As Upadhyay said, “The partnership with SAP Labs allows us to tap into their domain expertise in areas such as IoT (Internet of Things), healthcare, skill development and education.”

CIIE already has a presence in Jaipur through Startup Oasis, which it jointly set up with Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corporation, and in Pune, where it launched its ICT vertical recently; so expanding to these two places will be easy, says Joshi.

Fostering entrepreneurs

SAP Labs — the R&D wing of German enterprise-software firm SAP — for its part, is exploring similar partnerships to incubate or accelerate start-ups with other premier academic institutions, including some of the IITs. SAP is completing 20 years in India and wants to dedicate the year to fostering entrepreneurship.

A Growth Camp for the start-ups that participated in Gujarat Accelerator will be held at SAP Labs facility in Bengaluru sometime soon.

The first batch had eight start-ups from Gujarat, with one — KiviHealth, a platform for doctors — managing to get funded at the end. KiviHealth raised a total of ₹55 lakh, in which CIIE too invested some amount. Another start-up, IndiaBizForSale.com, is in advanced talks for funding.

Funding dilemma

However, both SAP Labs and CIIE said finding funding for the start-ups is not one of the goals of the accelerator, with the main focus on capacity building. Upadhyay said several of the start-ups that went through the programme pivoted their business models or changed strategies.

The start-ups, of course, had a different take. While they appreciated the programme for the mentorship on how to scale up or monetise better and the modules on design thinking, they said they joined the accelerator with expectations that it would help them raise funds.

As KiviHealth founders Bhanu Mahajan and Rajandeep Singh, both ISB alumni, pointed out, it was the IIM-A branding that attracted them to this particular accelerator. “We felt that with ISB and IIM-A in our CVs, it would be easier to get funded.”

For IndiaBizForSale’s Bhavin Bhagat, one valuable input from the programme was the need to introduce value additions to his business. IndiaBizForSale is a platform that connects SMEs wanting to sell/exit their business with buyers. It was initially only a listing platform. Now, it offers services such as providing valuations, another way to monetise the platform.

CIIE’s Ashwini Joshi said feedback from the start-ups would be factored in and the second batch would see some changes in the structure of the programme. “Regional markets require different things than national ones. The first programme, which was an experiment, has allowed us to study and understand the needs,” he said.

Fillip

Significantly, on June 5, Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel announced her government’s IT and Electronics Start-up Policy. Under the new policy, 50 incubators will be set up in the State. Existing incubators, including those run by IIM-A, would get special financial assistance. Start-ups registered in Gujarat would also be considered favourably for e-governance projects in the State.

Finally, the Start-up India movement does seem to be percolating to non-metro cities.

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