Startups need workspace, support and mentorship. The IIT Madras Incubation Cell and its sister organization in the Silicon Valley, IIT Madras Entrepreneurship Forum, consist of alumni dedicated to providing funding, along with the technical and business mentorship needed for a startup to succeed and thrive. It is currently incubating about 50 startups, much more than what was expected out of an incubation cell. Unlike many other incubation centres, the one at IIT-M has a professional team to provide legal and accounting advice to entrepreneurs, ensuring that a startup only needs to worry about what matters to them the most – their ideas.
Such support is not restricted to any one field or market sector. The Rural Technology and Business Incubator supports startups developing cost-effective technologies that can be deployed in rural areas. C-TIDES is a business incubation cell which also doubles as a wonderful platform to share business ideas. The Center for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship assists and catalyses development of socially beneficial products and ideas.
The IIT-M Bioincubator, funded by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India, is currently incubating four companies. One of them, for instance, is working on a device that can perform a battery of tests to diagnose diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and Hepatitis B. Once they’re up and running, these startups will be open to taking undergraduate students as summer interns. Based in the Research Park, the Bioincubator will have more office and lab space available once ongoing construction work is completed. But more significant would be the opportunities young entrepreneurs have for networking with mentors.
Any student with an idea has the opportunity to launch a startup, initially with a small amount of seed funding from the Institute or from alumni. “What I’d call a pre-incubation stage,” says Prof. Guhan Jayaraman, who is Project Coordinator of the Bioincubator. With the understanding that biotech incubation takes a relatively long time, students can also write for bigger alumni grants, or from the DBT or higher-stage funding from venture capital companies. “We’re ready to provide encouragement at different levels. Even second- or third-year undergraduates can approach us with an idea,” says Prof. Jayaraman. http://www.incubation.iitm.ac.in/.