By collaborating with respective state governments and expanding into new locations, STPI plans to provide mentorship and training to budding entrepreneurs in tier 2 and 3 cities
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) secretary S Krishnan launched the LEAP AHEAD initiative, a joint collaboration of Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) and The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) Delhi-NCR, at the LEAP AHEAD summit in New Delhi.
The initiative aims to aid tech start-ups that are in the scaling stage, growth stage, product diversification, or planning expansion into new geographical locations. The start-ups can benefit through funding support of up to Rs 1 crore and a three-month mentorship program.
In an exclusive conversation with Outlook Start-Up, Arvind Kumar, director general at STPI, talked about how the entity plans to build a start-up ecosystem in tier 2 and tier 3 towns so that entrepreneurs don’t have to move out in search of investment and proper infrastructure.
Despite having innovative ideas that could turn into good businesses, entrepreneurs from tier 2 and tier 3 cities are forced to move to cities like Delhi and Bengaluru. How do you think this can change?
It is important to understand why entrepreneurs are moving to metro cities. The most important things for a start-up are access to funds, talent, and innovation hubs. Now, most of the VCs and angles are based out of Bengaluru, Gurugram etc. Secondly, Bengaluru, being the IT hub, is rich in talent, and around 40 per cent of IT exports are happening from the city alone.
STPI is moving step-by-step. We can’t ask every investor to move to tier 2 and tier 3 cities or provide mentorship. However, we’re trying to bring it all under one roof for budding entrepreneurs through the STPI centres in various cities across India.
What role do STPI centres play in the start-up ecosystem to help small cities’ entrepreneurs?
We have offices across 63 cities in India. If a start-up wants to start from scratch, they have access to plug-and-play space there. If they want to participate in big tech summits, incubation programmes, or events like the LEAP launch pad, we circulate the information across all the centres.
So, even if you’re a start-up based out of a small town in any corner of India, you would have the opportunity to participate in events happening in Bengaluru, where big investors would be coming. We assist them with connecting with investors, and mentors and putting up their stalls within STPI pavilion as well.
Besides Delhi, the LEAP AHEAD Start-up Summit is also planned to be held in Bhubaneswar, Vijayawada, and Chandigarh to ensure everyone gets the opportunity.
How is STPI collaborating with state-level institutions to build a talent pipeline and equip students to be employable in emerging technologies?
Emerging technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, cyber security, and deep tech are the need of the hour. India has been very quick in being at par with other nations in technological advancements. You can see this in the case of 5G services and 6G innovations.
Now, to ensure that a talent pipeline is being created, we have to ensure that there is the right mentorship and training, which we are ensuring by building huge carpet area centres in tier 2 and tier 3 cities in collaboration with state governments.
We also have domain specific labs wherein students and entrepreneurs can take advantage of the facility for creating innovative products. We are also trying to bring state government incubators and mentors to these state labs and convincing them that staying and investing in their own cities will help both the start-ups in terms of growth and market opportunities