The Delhi-National Capital Region is among the top three start-up destinations in the country and it is, therefore, no surprise that the Indian Institute of Technology – Delhi is planning a big expansion of its incubator. Spread over 7,500 sq ft now, the Technology Business Incubator run by the Foundation for Innovation and Technology Transfer (FITT), the industry interface unit of IIT-Delhi, is looking to expand the space by nearly 10 times, says Anil Wali, Managing Director, FITT. Opened in 1999-2000, the incubator can accommodate up to 15 companies at a time and admits three to six start-ups every year. The expanded space will see the incubator take on more start-ups and give a leg up to entrepreneurship in the NCR.

Wide support

According to Wali, the incubator does not limit itself to start-ups from any particular sector but looks for homology with the IIT. The start-ups are allowed to be in the incubator for two years, but a few are allowed to stay a little longer depending on the scope of the work and the extent of IIT-Delhi’s involvement with them.

He says the incubator admits start-ups with a credible business plan around a technology focused innovation or proprietary knowledge that gives a competitive edge and puts entry barriers for others. The Technology Business Incubator includes an incubation facility for bio-tech ventures.

According to the FITT’s website, the following categories of entrepreneurs are eligible for the incubation programme: an incubator nursery programme initiated by the academic staff, students or alumni or a faculty-student led company; a start-up formed by first generation entrepreneurs; and, R&D division of existing small and medium enterprises. “Except the incubator nursery programmes where fund shortages during incubation progress are considered by the committee (Standing Screening Committee) to be met as loan/seed funding, other start-ups are expected to meet the fund requirements from own sources,” it says. The activities permitted in the incubator include product development, product innovations, software testing, simulation and prototyping, pilot experimentation, training and similar other technology related work, in which there exists homology with the institute.

Facilities offered

On what the incubator offers the start-ups, Wali says the facilities include laboratory/module of infrastructure, communication and computing; five per cent equity consideration other than cash with a buy-back option; mentoring, IIT-Delhi resources/lab facilities; bridge loan; and, networking support. The IIT-D gets financial support and grants from a number of government departments and these are available for the start-ups.

One of the largest angel investor groups in the country, the Indian Angel Network, is headquartered in Delhi and this adds to the strength of the start-up ecosystem in the region, as there are experienced entrepreneurs willing to put in money and mentor start-ups.

According to Wali, a whole lot of corporate professionals, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists such as Ajai Choudhary, Pradeep Gupta, Sunil Kalra, Vishnu Dussad, Deep Kalra and Alok Mittal give their time and attention to start-ups at the incubator. Some of the start-ups incubated at IIT-Delhi are KritiKal, Yonyx, Mechartes, Appin and PLANiN.

On the start-up scene in the country, Wali says the trend shows more service-based innovators and companies getting onto entrepreneurial bandwagon.

“However, we wish to see more product (intellectual property) focussed start-ups to come up. Technology-based start-up ventures face a lot of development challenges and, therefore, need more support,” he adds.

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