Innovation Hatchery

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Telecom and Information Technology entrepreneurs find a new spot to incubate their ideas in Kochi.

BTech graduate Nijil Y kept away from campus recruitment. His entrepreneurial self was constantly juggling ideas, one of which included an interactive book authoring tool. He needed a space to test his ideas but there were monetary constraints. Along with two classmates from the Cochin University of Science and Technology, he walked into Startup Village in Kochi.

A technology business incubator for entrepreneurs, Startup Village is a not-for-profit organisation, which has a technical lab set in a 5,000 square feet area. Its space is leased to entrepreneurs at Rs 2 a square feet. Sijo Kuruvilla George, CEO, Startup Village saw Nijil, Niraz Rashid and Sreekumar KR's previous ideas and wanted them to showcase an innovation at Emerging Kerala 2012, a state government-sponsored investors meet in Kochi in September. With only three days in hand and Rs 12,000 as capital, the trio presented a multi-touch table at the incubator's pavilion. This low-cost prototype is similar to Microsoft's Surface tablet. Instead of plexiglass, they used an acrylic sheet with a webcam and projector in it. A virtual table, it works without a mouse or keyboard. The technology is armed to attend to multiple requests by different users at the same time. "For instance, one can look up beverages in a hotel of choice, another user can check flight timings, or children can play virtual games, all on the same sheet, at the same time," says Nijil. The American equivalent of such a table top could cost over Rs 4 lakh. Enthused by the concept, Infosys co-founder and executive co-chairman, Kris Gopalakrishnan, who is chief mentor of the Startup Village, deputed his research and development team to help the young techies.

Mashinga, the company floated by Nijil and his friends, is one of the few ventures being nursed at Startup Village, India's first public private partnership model incubator. It is supported and financed by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, Kerala's IT venture, Technopark and Kochi-based private startup, MobME wireless. Opened in April this year, it receives Rs 2.5 crore as funds from the central government.

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