Kerala Startup Mission

Darsana Society

Kerala Startup Mission’s unwavering commitment to growing Kerala’s startup economy

Kerala has been recognized as the top performer for the third consecutive time in developing a robust startup ecosystem in states’ startup ranking 2021 by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Govt. of India.

The awards reflect the strength of Kerala’s startup ecosystem and the arduous efforts put forth by Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), the nodal organization of the government of Kerala for promoting entrepreneurship in the State.

Kerala Startup Mission began its journey under the name Technopark Business Incubation Centre (TBIC) established in 2002 as a medium of providing a  launchpad to various students, start-ups and entrepreneurs to enter the world of entrepreneurship and commercial ventures. In 2006, on getting assistance from the National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), Department of Science & Technology (DST), TBIC was registered as a society in the name of Technopark Technology Business Incubator (T-TBI).  In 2013, the Kerala government appointed T-TBI as the nodal organization to encourage entrepreneurship in the state and later it was rebranded as Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM).

Today KSUM has 3900 registered startups, 8 lakh + square feet of incubator space, 63 incubators, 340 mini incubators, MIT Super Fab lab (to promote digital fabrication), and 22 fablabs (including mini fablabs) distributed across the different districts of the state. Many of these sites also include cutting-edge maker spaces for hardware, biology, electronics, and sophisticated hardware products.

The journey of an entrepreneur shall face many whirlwinds and turning an entrepreneurial dream into a reality has never been so simple. Many startup aspirants have the chimeric notions about entrepreneurship as a stormless voyage. With a wealth of experience in transforming ideas to commercial ventures, KSUM offers them a diverse set of initiatives to turn their dream into a reality. KSUM has devised several schemes and programs to support an entrepreneur from ideation level to scale up stage. Over the years, KSUM has launched a slew of programs and startup related activities to foster a thriving startup ecosystem across the state. To name a few of them are incubation and accelerator programs, innovation grants, investor cafe, Government as a Marketplace, corporate connects, various flagship events like Huddle Global, Health Tech Summit, Women Startup Summit, Climathon etc.

Apart from these initiatives, KSUM has a network of incubators and ecosystem enablers such accelerators, mentors, investor pools, and collaborations with other government  departments which provides a nourishing environment for the growth of startups in the state. Entrepreneurs who are part of the KSUM have also been able to raise investment from various angel investor networks and venture capitalists. Startups are also given global exposure to the world’s biggest tech ecosystems like Silicon Valley and are immersed in international events such as Gitex Global, Slush and International Entrepreneurial Exchange Programs.

The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Centres (IEDC), a platform in higher education establishments across the state, is created by KSUM to foster entrepreneurship and creativity among young entrepreneurs. IEDC’s has been instrumental in nurturing a pipeline of tech startups. Today a network of 375 + IEDC centers are established across the state which act as mini incubators that  enable students to work on prototypes while studying. The successful companies Genrobotic Innovations and Zaara Biotech were student driven startups that emerged out of IEDCs. Research Innovation Network Kerala (RINK), another promising initiative of KSUM, would enable researchers and innovators to explore opportunities available in the entrepreneurship space to take up their inventions to marketplace.

We hear about successful startups and unicorns every time. The success of a startup isn’t as easy as in many other sectors. Many enterprising individuals who dream of being a startup founder lack the guidance and resources at the beginning. This could be one of the reasons why an entrepreneur fails after the initial euphoria of being a startup founder and struggles to survive in the long run. Lack of innovation, technical advancements, talent pool, market analysis, and ignorance about the regulatory landscape could be counted as other factors. Kerala government’s startup policy has a different and encouraging approach to accommodate the failures of startups. The policy facilitates closing an enterprise without bureaucratic hurdles and moving on. The policy also allows starting a new enterprise and availing the benefits provided to a startup by the state government.

With the facilitation by the state government and proactive interventions of KSUM, Kerala is at the forefront of an eminent startup ecosystem in the country. Converting Kerala into a startup paradise has been the mission of KSUM since its commencement. The relentless activities and interventions made by KSUM in Kerala have brought about a sizable and meaningful contribution to the growing economy of the state. The number of startups coming up with viable and scalable products as well as those generating early, or steady revenues have increased considerably in the past few years. The organization will now continue to build matured startups and focus on an ambitious goal of creating 15,000 startups over the next five years. Looking ahead, the organization will flourish as a thriving startup ecosystem that allows technology entrepreneurs to pursue their goals and dreams by providing them with full support throughout the startup life cycle.