FOCUS GOA | October 2017

The Government has set the record straight, as it aims to take Goa in the top 25 startup destination in Asia by 2025 writes RAMRAI NAIK

The startup policy comes at a critical juncture when the state is witnessing a major brain drain. The new policy will play a huge role in developing the much needed infrastructure and business friendly environment that the youth in the state have longed for.

The Cabinet has cleared the Startup Policy and it will be implemented as part of the Goa IT Investment Policy 2015. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar informed that the Policy has been formulated taking all the stakeholders in confidence. Minister for Information Technology Rohan Khaunte said, “Goans can avail benefits of the policy and launch startups at different locations across Goa.”

Goa Government has set the record straight, as it aims to take Goa in the top 25 startup destinations in Asia by 2025. For the state to create a startup ecosystem which will be at par with the global standards, the policy has to be well executed from scratch.

The startup policy is formulated in such a way that local entrepreneurs are major beneficiaries of the state government’s assistance. Apart from that, eligible candidates would also be getting the startup incentives introduced by the central government.

The state government has identified certain areas where the reviewing committee might grant any exemptions beyond the policy framework on a case to case basis. Some of those focus areas include smart cities, urban management, waste management, renewable energy, education, health care, communication, and entertainment. Apart from that, a special emphasis will be given to IT related fields such as internet of things, artificial intelligence, 3-D printing, data sciences, drones, machine learning, interaction design, big data analytics, robotics, virtual reality etc.

“The Government recognises that education and skill development that is aligned to the requirements of the industry are vital for a robust start-up eco-system. Hence the Government is committed to continuously improving the Goan education system, and promoting aspects such as Do-It-Yourself, as part of the school curriculum,” stated the startup policy.

Goa Government, with this policy document, has tried to address a grave concern of unemployment in the state. The state machinery has assured local entrepreneurs all assistance in scaling up their startup units which will lead to massive job creation. “While the Government is committed to promoting entrepreneurs from Goa and generating employment for Goans, the Government is equally committed to inviting the best and the brightest entrepreneurial and technology minds from outside Goa in order to build a robust startup eco-system within the state,” reads the policy.

Rohan Khaunte

Rohan Khaunte has been ever so proactive, since assuming the Ministry of Information Technology. In about half a year’s time, he has delivered the long awaited startup policy, key e-governance initiatives etc. As part of the IT outreach programme earlier this year, Khaunte reached out to his counterparts in Telangana State and Andhra Pradesh

On the employment front, Prajyot Mainkar, Chairman IT Committee, GCCI says, “We have to understand that lot of Goan IT minds prefer to move out of the state as soon as they graduate. Goa is yet to evolve completely in the startup culture.” He adds, “Generating employment largely depends on many factors especially the culture – work place, technology they work on, as well as the CTC. If that goes right, there is no stopping that this startup policy can really facilitate the employment growth in Goa.”

The Government has assured to build lasting institutional framework that changes the startup landscape of Goa, and makes the state an attractive startup base for technology entrepreneurs. Acknowledging the fast moving dynamics in technological and industrial space – the Startup Policy of Goa has promised to remain flexible, responsive and evolving with changing times and needs of the industry.

Vincent Toscano, Vice President, Goa IT Professionals believes that the startup policy is truly a progressive step forward by the government to enable Goans to prosper right here in Goa. He said, “We look forward to its timely and result-oriented implementation for our long-pending dream to come true.” He added, “Equally important would be for us Goans to rise against our aversion to entrepreneurship and our lethargic susegad attitude to apply ourselves and work hard to truly benefit from this policy.”

The startup policy is formulated in such a way that local entrepreneurs are major beneficiaries of the state government’s assistance. Apart from that, eligible candidates would also be getting the startup incentives introduced by the central government.

According to the policy criterion, an entity would be identified as startup only if it is “Working towards pure-play innovation, development, or improvement of products or services, powered by engineering or internet based software or technology.” That leaves other startups not fulfilling the requirements in the grey area.

Inacio Fernandes, Sr. Database Administrator, Oracle India, finds the policy quite promising. Fernandes says, “A lot of incentives will boost employment of the locals. We will only have to wait to see the implementation of the policy.” Raising an important concerns, he adds, “Many still feel that the policy is too IT-oriented and other sector startups are feeling left out.”

Startups in Goa would be broadly grouped under the three major categories – products, services and hybrid. Hybrid includes combination of products and services. At the same time, the Policy has clearly stated that, “Entities that are into retailing / wholesaling / distributing of software, hardware, and IT peripherals will not be considered as a start-up for availing the incentives under this policy.”

Objectives of the startup Policy

-Making Goa, a base for high value startups

-Building a robust startup eco-system

-To create at least 100 successful startups in the next 5 years; leading to employment generation to 5000 Goans

-To develop 2 lakh sq.ft area for technology innovation and incubation centres

-To facilitate creation of dedicated funds for providing various types of support and impetus to startups

-The startup cell would set up a state-of-the-art, fully equipped, plug-and-play innovation and incubation centre in Goa

-All start-ups in Goa will be eligible for interest subsidised loan from the Government

Startup Promotion Cell

One of the major highlight of the policy is the setting up of Startup Promotion cell which will be headed by a CEO, comprising of group of dedicated IT professionals. The cell would be responsible to carry out various functions and will serve as the nodal agency looking after the certification process of the startups. The cell will be directly reporting to The Startup Promotion Cell Committee chaired by the Chief Minister. The committee would also include IT Minister, Chief Secretary, IT Secretary, Industries Secretary and four nominated personnel from the industry.

To facilitate Ease of Doing Business in Goa, the cell would set up an online based single window portal exclusively for startups. The online portal would serve as a two-way communication framework with the government, further notifying on regulatory matters and other government updates. Additionally, the government will appoint a senior designated officer who will serve as a single point of contact in each department to secure all kinds of permissions related to startups.

Stakeholders are having an optimistic outlook at the policy so far but are skeptical that this policy doesn’t receive the same fate as earlier reforms promised by the state government. Much of it will be dependent on how it is implemented, so as to ensure its dividends are passed onto the upcoming entrepreneurs and Goa truly becomes home to high powered startups.

Dattesh Parulekar, Asst. Professor, Centre for Latin American and International Studies, Goa University says, “In the absence of the necessary grassroots building blocks such as revamping the Higher Education System in the State and incorporating functional skill development ecosystem, the fate of Start Up Policy could mirror the fate of the IPB, a big tall talk shop with miserable outcome on ground. The problem is not dearth of start ups, but the ability to help them tide over periods when they are stuttering.”

Mashal Adpaikar, Office Manager, NE Technologies India Pvt Ltd says, “There were many policies introduced by various governments before this but no one knows if they were properly implemented. Some policies were just in the draft stages and never came into force.” He however foresees a better execution of the new startup policy.

Aggressive IT Ministry

Rohan Khaunte has been ever so proactive, since assuming the Ministry of Information Technology. In about half a year’s time, he has delivered the long awaited startup policy, key e-governance initiatives etc. Stakeholders have sensed the energy that he brings to this key portfolio.

As part of the IT outreach programme earlier this year, Khaunte reached out to his counterparts in Telangana State and Andhra Pradesh. In recent times, the respective states have been instrumental in spearheading the country towards becoming an IT superpower.  Even in the Ease of Doing Business rankings, both the states have performed significantly well and have been leading by example.

Goa government have mutually agreed to exchange technology and knowledge sharing with these southern states. Therefore it’s safe to assume many of the reforms adopted there have reflected in the Goan policy

 

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