Thiruvananthapuram: Stepping up efforts to create a future with innovation and entrepreneurship as the key drivers, Kerala capital will be developed into a major digital hub and a premier destination for startups, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Thursday.
The Chief Minister was inaugurating India’s biggest beachside startup conclave Huddle Global 2023, a three-day event organised by Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) bringing together a wide range of stakeholders, at Adimalathura near Vizhinjam, about 20 km from the city centre.
The event also saw KSUM exchanging Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with Belgium and Australia to set up its Startup Infinity Centres in the two countries, opening up immense opportunities for enterprises from Kerala’s ecosystem to scale up operations and expand market.
Kerala already stands as a pioneer in India’s vibrant startup ecosystem that has been consistently ranked at the top for the last three years due to the state government’s pro-active initiatives, Vijayan said.
Also, KSUM has secured the top position as a public business incubator in the UBI Global World Benchmark study in 2021-22, further cementing its pivotal role in transforming the state into a thriving startup hub, he said.
The state government’s proactive initiatives, including Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Centres (IEDC) for colleges, Young Entrepreneurship Programme (YIP), incubation and acceleration programmes, and corporate innovation efforts have collectively helped Kerala’s startup ecosystem to flourish and grow, he said.
Taking forward the efforts to convert the state capital into a digital hub, work has already begun for establishing an “Emerging Technology Startup Hub” in the city, Vijayan said.
Also, through initiatives like Startup Infinity, the state has created collaborative projects that bring together local entrepreneurs, business leaders, and Pravasi Malayalis as an inclusive approach that not only fosters innovation but also welcomes participation of global Malayali community in nurturing startups and entrepreneurship and innovation to thrive limitlessly, he added.
Dr Shahshi Tharoor MP was present on the occasion. The inauguration of the flagship event saw an exchange of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) between KSUM and Belgium, Australia, and the State Bank of India (SBI).
Presenting a report on the state’s startup ecosystem, Ms Tinku Biswal, Principal Secretary, Revenue and Housing, Government of Kerala, noted the state now has close to 5000 startups.
The journey of KSUM in the last 17 years has been an eventful one that stands as testimony to the state’s dedication to promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.
Welcoming the gathering, KSUM CEO Shri Anoop Ambika said this edition of Huddle Global assumes added significance due to its choice of venue away from the city, demonstrating the inclusivity of Kerala’s startup ecosystem centred on the idea of “equitable distribution.”
Belgium’s Ambassador to India, Mr Didier Vanderhasselt, who exchanged MOU with KSUM CEO, noted the agreement will lead to KSUM setting up its Startup Infinity Centre in Brussels, opening up vast opportunities for startups from Kerala. Also, rent-free office space for selected startups will be provided for a few months.
The pact will facilitate Kerala startups to collaborate with the European tech hub in areas like digital technology and life sciences to scale up their product range and expand the market, Mr Vanderhasselt noted.
Ms. Catherine Gallagher, Minister Commercial and Head of Austrade South Asia said it is significant to note that the MoU with KSUM comes at a time when the ties between India and Australia are marked by a strong and comprehensive strategic partnership. The agreement will also facilitate Kerala Startups to leverage the top-class technological and R&D ecosystem of Australia in a wide range of areas.
SBI Circle Chief General Manager Ms. Bhuvaneswari A exchanged an MoU with KSUM to augment financial services to startups. SBI Deputy General Manager Rana Ashutosh Kumar Singh said the agreement will provide a wide range of banking and other financial services to startups.
Tom Thomas, KSUM’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), proposed a vote of thanks. Now into its fifth edition, Huddle Global 2023 has the convergence of around 15,000 delegates from within the country and abroad, besides showcasing cutting-edge products from emerging sectors such as robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality, virtual reality, life sciences, space tech, blockchain, IoT, e-governance, fintech, health tech, agritech, edutech, and SaS from across the country’s ecosystem.
An expo on the sidelines of the event displayed products from 100-plus nascent companies and provided an opportunity for them to interact with experts from technology and industry for advice on investment opportunities.