Pilot project targets students and graduates

The International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS), an autonomous institution under the State government, is gearing up to launch a start-up incubation facility to promote FOSS-based enterprises.

The pilot project, expected to be rolled out this month, has been designed as a start-up acceleration, pre-incubation and incubation support programme, primarily targeting students and graduates. The project, according to ICFOSS director Satish Babu, involves a set of non-financial support services that would help them to first work as part of the FOSS community and then as individual enterprises.

Mr. Babu said ICFOSS had chosen a lean start-up model for the project so as to eliminate the need for large amounts of external funding and elaborate business plans. “Our aim is to provide some handholding for groups of students (from Plus Two) and young graduates in engineering and other disciplines and equip them with sufficient know-how so that they can be placed on the incubation trajectory”.

The FOSS-based approach to start-ups, he explained, was not a company model of enterprise. “Instead, it is considered much more important to contribute to the FOSS community in the initial phase before embarking upon a Virtual Micro Enterprise, a virtual team with members spread over geographically that can later undergo transition to a company model”.

The ICFOSS initiative is relevant in India and particularly Kerala where most youngsters prefer a job-based career. “This generates the need for pre-incubation services, especially for students and fresh graduates,” says Mr. Babu. The pilot project, running up to March 2014, seeks to create a local model for preparing incubation-ready start-ups. It will identify pain points in the local context for start- ups and encourage young people to consider start-ups as a viable option.

Some of the technology areas identified for the programme include Big Data, Business Analytics, Open Access Publishing, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), Open Source Hardware, Robotics and Automation, Mobile applications, Preservation and promotion of culture, Computational Sciences, Graphics and visualisation, Modelling and animation, Gaming, Bioinformatics and e-Governance applications.

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