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The Mamata Banerjee government unveiled the startup policy 2016 and thereby opened up new vistas to nurture budding business minds right at universities. The aim of the policy is to create an Entrepreneurship Development Centre Network (EDCN) in universities and leading higher education institutes across all districts to foster greater social acceptance regarding startups. The incorporation of entrepreneurship skill and performance in the overall academic assessment through an innovative course credit structure is also being thought about by the government.
According to the policy the state will fund the expenses up to Rs 10 lakh to each university to create a central Entrepreneurship Development Centre (EDC). State MEME principal secretary Rajiva Sinha said,” We are planning to talk to institutions like IIM-C, Jadavpur University, Calcutta University, Presidency University, JIS University, Neotia University, Techno India, Heritage and Adamas.”
However the experts are recommending caution for student entrepreneurship. The head of a private incubator stated,” If you follow the Kerala or Karnataka model, you have to keep it in mind that if students are not constantly given a congenial environment for their model business, their mission might go haywire. In Kerala and Karnataka, we have seen so many failed student entrepreneurs missing the bus in the job domain.”
Sinha said,” But we have made a clear departure from the existing startup policies in other states by not individually helping aspiring business persons. We are creating an ecosystem, which will involve experts, institutes and government officials. This will take care of the whole nurturing process by optimum evaluation of a student’s project by business experts. Incorporating entrepreneurship in curriculum is unique in India.”
‘EDCN institutions’ would be facilitated by the Bengal government to incentivize entrepreneurship by offering appropriate credit for students pursuing entrepreneurship activities like participation in business programmes, internship with startups, project works and so on. Through an innovative course credit structure this credit would be incorporated in their overall academic assessment. The capacity building of EDCN institutions will also be facilitated by the government through active collaboration with leading technical business incubators (TBI) in the state. As per the policy,” More and more institutions will be brought under EDCN to expand the network’s reach and impact.”
“The crux of the policy seems to incentivize an academic institution-based incubator model. The ministry of science and technology has a similar policy for about two decades now. India has more than 80 of such incubators and the efficacy is questionable. Most of the incubators are financially not viable and continue to depend on government funding. When it comes to financial sustainability, only CIIE of IIM-Ahmedabad, Villgro of Chennai and Kerala’s Technopark can be thought of as having a successful track record,” said startup advisor Mainak Bhattacharya, who was with one of India’s best startup incubators at IIM-Ahmedabad’s centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship.
According to Sagar Daryani, founder of Wow! Momo,” The only hurdle I feel is the three year time period, which is too little. It should be a minimum of five years. We are over six years old, so we feel left out, but we have passed through our tough days and learnt it the hard way. In spite of all this support from the government, only hard work and determination will make them champions.”
“This policy provides for critical and all round support such as incubation, preferential lease, access to labs and reserved space in industrial parks and support through single window from www. Startupbengal.in,”said Sidharth Pansari of Primarc that nurtures many startups in the state.