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Kerala Emerges as Top Performer in 2021 Start-up Rankings

Abhivad |
Last month, the Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) had ranked Kerala number one in Asia in Affordable Talent.
kerala startup

Representational use only.Image Credit: Analytics India Magazine

Kerala has won national and international recognition for a good number of reasons in the past. The southern state has been in the spotlight for development indicators, progress in the public health sector, cooperative sector, and people's initiatives like Literacy Mission, Kudumbashree, etc. But recent reports have put Kerala in the limelight for a different reason. Kerala is now becoming one of the most favourable destinations in India and Asia for start-ups.

The States' Startup Ranking, 2021, announced in New Delhi on Monday, selected Kerala as the top performer for the third consecutive time. Last month, the Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) ranked Kerala number one in Asia in Affordable Talent. The southern state had also improved its position from 20th to fourth in the global rankings.

The States' Startup Ranking report released by Startup India evaluated seven Reform Areas that significantly contribute to propelling the start-up ecosystem. The report appreciates Kerala's 'remarkable performance through institutional support, access to the market, incubation support, and capacity building for enablers. The report also assessed the scope for further improvement in the 'mentorship support' reform area.

The Award jury also noted that the Government of Kerala had taken commendable initiatives like developing Kerala StartUp Mission Digital Hub as a one-stop facility for all product design and development activities. The government has also provided institutional support to start-ups through knowledge dissemination in regional languages. Maharashtra, Odisha, Telangana, and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir also secured the 'Top Performer' honour.

Union minister for commerce and industry Piyush Goyal announced the third edition of the rankings instituted by Startup India under the Department for Promotion of Industry and Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Officials of the Kerala Startup Mission(KSUM) received the award from Goyal.

KSUM Director of Funding, Evangelisation and Global Linkages Riyas PM, Head of Business Linkages, Startup Life Cycle and IT Ashok Kurian Panjikaran and Programme Head of 'Government As A Marketplace' Varun G were chosen as the Startup Champions of the state.

The Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER), published in June, also praised Kerala's achievement in developing a vibrant start-up ecosystem. Ranking Kerala first in Asia in Affordable Talent, the report lauded the state for enriching start-up networks and economic growth. Measuring the ability to hire and retain tech talent, the report cited government support and tech talent as reasons for start-ups to move to Kerala and flourish. The GSER, drawn up jointly by Startup Genome and Global Entrepreneurship Network, is considered the world's most comprehensive, data-driven research on start-ups that analyses over three million start-ups in 280 entrepreneurial innovation ecosystems.

"Start-up Genome is thrilled to see such incredible growth in Kerala's start-up community coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic," Marc Penzel, Founder & President of Startup Genome, had said.

Commenting on the honours, KSUM CEO John M Thomas said it is a proud moment for the state government and all the stakeholders of the start-up ecosystem.

"The awards reflect the outstanding performances of start-ups from the state, besides the strength of our ecosystem. Apart from the initiatives of KSUM, our strong network of incubators and ecosystem enablers such as accelerators, mentors, angel investors, and departments are significantly contributing to the growth of start-ups. The national and international recognition would help build a strong network of start-ups that will play a key role in the growth of the state," Thomas said.

Kerala's start-up network comprises more than 3,800 registered and 20 women-led start-ups. In over 40 start-up incubation centres, Kerala provides close to 10 Lakh square feet of space for start-up incubation in total. The state government has also identified more than 10 Government departments to support start-ups. These include the Department of Higher Education, Kerala Police Department, Directorate of Sports and Youth Affairs.

An Entrepreneur's Perspective

Shyam Pradeep and his friends started Infusory as a campus start-up based in the Cochin University incubation lab in 2015. The company focused on incorporating augmented reality technology in education, marketing and entertainment.

Pradeep told NewsClick that the company got their break when school education was transferred entirely to online during the COVID pandemic.

"The demand for Digitised interactive teaching aids was rising during this period. We launched our app, TutAR. The app has a digital collection of teaching aids that can be visualised in AR, including content for various subjects from kindergarten to Class XII."

Over 200 schools in 22 states use TutAR tools for digitised learning. The company has also equipped some public schools in Kerala with AR/VR Labs as a pilot project. The young entrepreneur remembers the support offered by the Kerala government and KSUM during the initial period of the start-up.

"KSUM's innovation grant was of great help in the initial stage. The government and KSUM helped us grow by providing opportunities for national and international exposure. We were selected for several exhibitions and expos, where we could showcase our innovations and learn from others," Pradeep said.

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