India's first business incubator for nanotechnology

India's first business incubator for nanotechnology was inaugurated at the PSG College of Technology in Coimbatore on Monday. Adviser and head of the National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB) H K Mittal inaugurated the centre.

"About 30% business ideas come from niche fields like biotechnology and nanotechnology. So, it is good to see a dedicated incubator for nanotechnology being set up in an educational institute, that too in an industrial city like Coimbatore," said Mittal.

PSG is also the only institution to have five technology business incubators in the country. "IIT-Bombay has three incubators," he said.

Set up with an investment of Rs 15 crore, 50% of the fund was provided by the department of science and technology, Government of India. "We are looking at a total of 33 incubatees in the next five years. And, we aim at developing 13 prototypes in four years," said the director of PSG Institute for Advanced Studies P Radhakrishnan. To start with, PSG is looking at roping in 10 incubatees, said the director of PSG- Science and Technology Entrepreneurial Park (PSG-STEP).

There are about 110 technology business incubators across the country, and around eight are in the Coimbatore region. "In areas like nanotechnology it takes a long time for technology transfer. So, we have introduced two schemes to address these challenges," said Mittal.

The first scheme is entrepreneurial residence programme where the incubatee is given stipend up to Rs 30,000 per month for one year. "The second scheme is called Prayas under which the incubator will provide Rs10lakh grant to 10 incubatees every year. This fund can be utilised to develop a prototype," he said.

NSTEDB has chosen 10 incubators each for both the schemes. "PSG has qualified for the grants in both," said Mittal. NSTEDB is also providing a Rs1.2crore fund to the incubators. "This will be a one-time fund. Besides, we will also provide Rs20lakh to the incubators to purchase raw materials," he added.

Also, the agency is providing seed support to the incubatees through the incubators. "A grant of Rs 50 crore will be provided in instalments of Rs 10 crore to about 50 incubators across the country. As it takes an average of seven years for a company to set foot and make profits, the incubators can provide the company seed funding as debt or for equity," Mittal said.