An innovation rush on State’s campuses

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The start-up story in the State is slowly but effectively encouraging youngsters on campuses to become job-providers rather than job-seekers, saysG. KRISHNAKUMAR.

They chose not just to dream big but took the hard way to see it come alive.

The start-up story in the State is slowly but effectively encouraging youngsters on campuses to become job-providers rather than job-seekers.

The number of young entrepreneurs leaving the comfort of a regular 9-to-5 job seems growing, going by the enthusiastic response to the start-up initiatives over the past one year.

Sanjay Vijayakumar, chairman of the Start-up Village in Kochi, points out that a record 120 campus start-up applications were received since the government launched the students entrepreneurship programme last October.

“No other State in the country could achieve our record of generating over 120 campus start-up ideas in one year. We have been successful in creating a change in mindset among students who want to become entrepreneurs. Many youngsters have left high-paying jobs in leading companies to start their own ventures. This shows the confidence instilled in them through such unique initiatives,” he says.

The government scheme gives student entrepreneurs up to four per cent grace marks and 20 per cent relaxation in attendance to become part of the growing start-up ecosystem in the State.

Sharan Thampi, head of the entrepreneur cell at the College of Engineering in Thiruvananthapuram, says the institution’s entrepreneurship cell has expanded from five to 150 people over the past year.

“We do outreach programmes, arrange internships, conduct seminars and workshops, and above all encourage entrepreneurial spirit with funding sources from our alumni, establishing networks, strategic ties with the IITs and simulations. Start-up companies with potential are incubated in our Technology Business Incubator and are later moved to Start-up Village and other great accelerators/incubators,” he says.

Mr. Thampi, who is the chief executive officer of the campus start-up HedCet Innovations, says there is a lot more excitement in the challenge of blazing your own trail than walking on the trail of someone, the rush that comes with creating, deploying and watching the world use your products, and the need to prove to the world that it is possible for a young person to chase dreams.

Tejas Kumar, head of operations of the company, says the student entrepreneurship scheme provides excellent opportunities for young people to get out of a restrictive classroom, go out, explore, innovate and create solutions.

“That is how we did it, and it worked for us. Young people must be empowered to come out and change the world and the government policy needs to provide the ecosystem for such a change. We are very excited about the future of student entrepreneurs in the State,” he says.

Jaisankar C. Prasad, an expert in management education and former Director of the State IT Mission, suggests that the universities in the State need to revamp its educational curriculum especially in the professional stream to encourage more students to become entrepreneurs. He says the orthodox and conventional teaching and learning methodology will not help in creating an effective ecosystem for young entrepreneurs.

Agreeing to Dr. Prasad’s views, George Jacob, head of initiatives at HedCET, says the educational curriculum is way behind today’s existing technology and market trends.

“It speaks volumes about why the average student goes into a company after college and has to learn everything from scratch once again. A research- or intellectual-property- oriented approach is completely absent. This is why there is not a lot of innovation going on in various colleges. The world does not revolve around GPAs. Kerala needs to wake up to that truth,” he says.



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