Kochi: Maker Village Kochi is a role model fit for the application in a wide range of fields including high-tech and deep-tech to agriculture, healthcare, environment, automation, business and industry, Union Minister of State for Electronics & Information Technology, Communications, and HRD Mr. Sanjay Dhotre said today.
Hailing the country’s largest hardware incubator as the only successful hardware startup venture by the Union Government in association with a state, he said during a visit to Maker Village that the four-year-old establishment has made progress that is usually achieved in a quarter-century. “I’d say this is a startup of startups,” he added, after addressing representatives from Industry firms such as Bosch, BPCL, Cochin Shipyard, NPOL, V-Guard, SFO, Brinc, GAIL, Altair, and Qualcomm.
Describing the Industries’ relation with Maker Village as “symbiotic”, Mr. Dhotre said such tie-ups can help the country develop “horizontally, and not just vertically”. He wants to replicate this model in other parts of the country so that the entire country gets benefits out of this model. Maker Village, which functions under the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, has the Indian Institute of Information Technology-Kerala as the host institute.
The minister said Maker Village could engage in improving the country’s defense ecosystem. The suggestion comes four days after the Union government selected Maker Village as a partner for its iDEX program to create solutions for the armed services.
“We are looking for indigenization as part of our mission for a Shreshtha Bharat,” he said. “The country needs more and more of its products to be made in its soil. Maker Village will be a good resource in the ongoing initiative.”
The minister also called upon Maker Village Kochi to involve BSNL and MTNL in enabling the two state-owned communications companies to develop products of cutting-edge technology.
Earlier in the day, the minister and his high-level delegation took a round of the products at the Maker Village, learning about the array of products developed by the incubator since its inception in February 2016.
Introducing the innovative devices, Maker Village CEO Mr. Prasad Balakrishnan Nair pointed out that the establishment had by far incubated 75 startups and applied for 48 patents of which six have been sanctioned. “The minister, who is a mechanical engineer as well with great interest in agriculture and industry can guide us well,” he noted. “More so, at this juncture when Maker Village is looking new direction in going ahead with its motto of ‘Passion for technology, Compassion for the community’.
The Maker Village CEO submitted two proposals to the minister: one for the creation of a 5G district and the other an advanced manufacturing facility for Industry 4.0.
Mr. M Sivasankar, Secretary, IT, said Kerala’s hardware startups have a “huge problem” in raising working capital, for which they needed grants from the Centre. Taking a cue from the minister’s call for horizontal growth, he said the country wanted more such establishments in tier-2 cities, with Kochi has come up with a successful model.
At the roundtable, Kerala Startup Mission CEO Dr. Saji Gopinath briefed the minister about the functions of the state’s central agency for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities.
The minister was gifted with the Aranmula Kannadi, a handmade alloy mirror made in Kerala’s central Travancore region, as a symbol of the state’s rich heritage in metallurgy.