Struggling yet striving, Sikkimese entrepreneurs are paving a path, not only for themselves but for others aspiring in the field of entrepreneurship.

The recent rise of startups in Sikkim is a healthy sign towards progressive economy. Various financial schemes and support is what most startups need. But an ecosystem to nurture the ideas in establishing a viable enterprise is the prime requirement under which mentoring, networking and initial funding are the fundamental needs.

The ‘AIC-SMU Technology Business Incubation Foundation’ at SMIT is one of the 100 incubators of India selected from the 2,676 applicants from across the nation and will be the state’s first incubation centre.

In regard to cater these needs an ‘incubation centre’ is a greater need of the hour which it seems will be fulfilled in no time with the soon-to-be- established incubation centre at Sikkim Manipal Institute of Technology (SMIT), Majhitar.

The ‘AIC-SMU Technology Business Incubation Foundation’ at SMIT is one of the 100 incubators of India selected from the 2,676 applicants from across the nation and will be the state’s first incubation centre.

This state of the art incubation centre shall be fully ready by June 2019 and the first cohort shall be taken from the same month. The gestation period of the startup is expected to be for a maximum duration of 3 years or 20 crores of revenue whichever is earlier.

The Government of India in 2017 through NITI Aayog had envisioned to set up 100 ‘world class’ incubators through a special purpose vehicle setup under Section 8 of Indian Companies Act, 2013 and aptly named as Atal Incubation Centres (AIC). This is in line with the pursuit of Government of India’s Make in India and Startup India policies.

SMU has also been included in the top 100 Institutions of the country for Atal Ranking for Innovation in Institution Achievements (ARIIA), a ranking conducted by UGC and AICTE. This comes as a tremendous achievement for the university and the state as a whole.

The incubator shall support start-up at all stages from idea stage to growth stage. It has already signed MOUs with Amazon Cloud Services, CISCO Network, Intuit, etc. to name a few to support startups of Sikkim. Free cloud credit up $5000 (valid for 4-5 years) is confirmed to be provided by Amazon to incubate, CISCO shall provide the best video conferencing network services through it’s CSR. Intuit, a Germany based company is also providing financial consultancy services to all its startups. Along with these the best experts and mentors will be on board.

Prof. Tejbanta S. Chingtham with Celebrated Engineer Sonam Wangchuk

Speaking to Sikkim Chronicle, Prof. Tejbanta S. Chingtham, Chief Executive Officer of the incubator said, “The Technology Incubator at SMIT has been persistently encouraging not only its students but also young aspiring entrepreneurs of this region to hone their skills in generating Valued Human Resources rather than the traditional man power that feeds the need of the industry. The result of which are reflected in the sudden surge in the number of students who intend to become entrepreneurs. Students with innovative ideas are nurtured to become employers rather than employees and contribute to the growth of the nation in whatever little they can offer.”

The incubator also has a pool of other services that will be provided in house such as a state-of-the art fabrication lab with 3-D printers and scanners, CNC-routing machines, drilling mills and Printed Circuit Board (PCB) printer, etc. It also hosts one of the finest collections of equipments in its Makers’ Space.

“Since the technology has no verticals, this technology incubator intends to explore in all dimension and hence this incubator will be sector agnostic,” the professor added.

It also houses a dedicated co-working space with 50 seat capacity accessible 24×7 with internet, a café that serves the food 24×7 etc. It has two board rooms with the best in class with a capacity of 20 and 40 seat capacity to enable business meetings with potential clients for startups. Branding, Consulting and Partner services are some of the few value additions in the incubator .The incubation centre shall span in an area of approximately 1200 square feet and shall be centrally air conditioned.

AIC-SMU Technology Business Incubation Foundation has received a grant-in-aid of Rs 8 Crores to set up the centre.

The incubator has its support directly from Invest India team and access other venture capital that would enable to leverage fund of funds or debt to its incubatees. The incubator also supports seed upto Rs. 25 Lakh based on a screening process.

With the healthy mushrooming of startups in the recent years in Sikkim, the state called for an earliest need of an incubation centre as it seemed quite unfeasible for the entrepreneurs here to move to incubation centres outside when they are still struggling to minimize their operational costs and seeking good capital support. Presently, Sikkim is undergoing a paradigm shift in terms of entrepreneurship and the etsbalishment of the state’s first incubation centre would definitely boost the shift.

Prof. Chingtham extended his invitation to the young and entrepreneurial minds of Sikkim to take advantage of this world-class facility.

“And in the process a unicorn could be in the making!” He exclaimed.

He stressed upon the youngsters in taking up such challenging tasks and be the change that is needed for the present socio-economic demand of the Nation to be the world leaders.

“And with the world-class facilities at doorstep duly supported by Government of India is no less than a dream for aspiring entrepreneurs”, he added.
He further expressed his gratitude towards the board of Directors of the incubator viz Dr M.D Venkatesh ( VC of SMU), Dr Ashis Sharma, Director SMIT and Dr Karma S. Sherpa (Registrar,SMU) for all the mentorship and unconditional support due to which this fete would not have been achieved in such a short span of time, he told Sikkim Chronicle.

It may be noted that Prof. Tejbanta has been one of the key persons behind creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the state as well as within the Sikkim Manipal University. He has been responsible for creating the First Entrepreneurs’ event in Sikkim “Entrepreneurs Meet 2017” and “Entrepreneurs Meet 2018” which saw footfall of more than 800 young participants from across North East. He was also one of the main organizers of the “Kanchan Panda Fest” which was the first of its kind in the state of Sikkim.

The setting up of the state’s first incubation centre will undoubtedly create ways for successful startups in Sikkim. The efforts of the state government and private firms toward building a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem shall surely be facilitated through the incubator. With the incubator to-be-coming into being fully functional it opens door for a sea of learning and earning opportunities for the entrepreneurial aspirants further, creating not a pyramid but a productive cycle of entrepreneurship ecosystem in the state.


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