As Union Minister of State for Commerce, Nirmala Sitharaman had written to members of parliaments (MPs) to setup startup incubation centres in their respective constituencies and has gone ahead and done so herself with the Centre for Entrepreneurship Opportunities and Learning (CEOL).
As per a report, she allocated Rs. 1.5 crore from her MPLAD (Member of Parliament’s Local Area Development) scheme for the development of the Centre for Entrepreneurship Opportunities and Learning, a startup incubation centre, in Mangaluru as she represents Karnataka as an MP in Rajya Sabha.
Speaking at the launch in Mangaluru, she said that the coastal districts of Karnataka, including its towns and cities, is a fertile ground for talent that needs to be nurtured. Sitharaman also added that the region has around 20 colleges that offer engineering and medicine among other fields of study to make it possible.
The minister also drew parallels with Silicon Valley saying that much like the US startup-hub, the many suburbs and cities and educational institutions are similar to Mangaluru region. She likened the people too by adding that Silicon Valley has enterprising and determined people while the people of Mangaluru are just as ambitious and determined.
She further stated that she wanted New India to realise the dreams and aspirations of the youth, adding that CEOL is a symbol of New India.
The startup incubation centre can accommodate around 60 people and about half were already booked even before its official launch. If startups show more interest, the capacity could be increased by another 40 seats through the Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner.
The Centre for Entrepreneurship Opportunities and Learning will not only be a place to work but will also do ‘hand-holding’ activities. She has reportedly suggested that the CEOL conduct at least three activities a month for this. However, first she is looking to bring in venture capitalists and angel funds to interact with startups at the centre which could open opportunities of funding for activities.
She is also looking to bring industries to the centre where she believes that startups could provide solutions faced by industries in the region. Mentors who specialise in agriculture, engineering, healthcare and other sectors are also sought after to bring to the CEOL.
Nirmala Sitharaman said she is hoping that professionals who have excelled in their fields would be coming to sit with these startups working on particular ideas to fine-tune them and prepare for the commercial world – on a monthly basis.