The curious case of corporate incubators
In India, corporate incubators are few and far between unlike their close cousins, corporate accelerators which are more concise and hands-on in their approach. A startup gets access to corporate resources, expertise, networks apart from financial assistance and refined investor pitches through such programmes, but they are not all unicorns and rainbows.
There is a high probability of corporate pushing their startups' development to align with their own business objectives rather than startups' independent growth, which is contradictory in nature. Why? Because often the biggest business is the easiest to get disrupt and these programmes immune corporate from future disruptions by these young startups. Entrepreneur brings forth few such existing corporate incubators in India.
Tata Group's design arm, Tata Elxsi's incubation programme incub@TE was launched in November 2012 to support next generation product and service startups in the Internet, mobile, social, local, enterprise, cloud, digital media and embedded applications spaces. In 2013, the incubator partnered with Singapore-based incubator Get2volume and investment company AISB Holdings for a shared pool of support and mentorship accessible to their respective portfolio startups. It reviews startups' performance every three months to qualify them for next quarterly extension.
"Given the pace of change in technologies, big companies are always susceptible to threats from disruptive technologies – sometimes these are introduced by their competitors but most often by the start-ups. Our incub@TE programme would like to leverage startups' strength to keep pace with the fast-changing landscape of technologies and the industries driven by these technologies," says Rajesh Kumar is Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, at Tata Elxsi.
The "Platform' Incubator
Progress Pacific Incubator counts emerging technology startups like HackerBay Software and Risk Edge Solutions among its portfolio companies. The incubator was launched this year in February by US-based global software solution company to tap on India's engineering talent by incubating startups building different business applications.
The company through its Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) model called Progress Pacific offers web and mobile app development, cloud connectivity and data integration solutions for improved productivity and faster time-to-market for early-stage start-ups creating business applications for different industries.
The incubator helps graduating startups connect with investors apart from mentorship and market access. "Through our rapid application development (a software development technique for faster development of software applications) cloud-based PaaS model, startups can accelerate the pace of their applications' development and further completely remove deployment/production environments.
In return, we earn licensing revenues from these start-ups operating as independent software vendors (that create and sell consumer or enterprise software) on our platform as they grow. Moreover, it also allows our engineers helping these startups as they get exposed to real world usage of our products," says Ramesh Loganathan, MD, Progress Software India.
The "Make in India' Incubator
Intel India Maker Lab is technology giant Intel India's response to the Government of India's call for Make in India and Digital India. The incubation facility at Intel India's Bengaluru campus is a first-of-its kind globally to boost product innovation and enhance maker capability of startups in India across Internet of Things (IoT), mobile devices and other compute-focused domains.
The selection process for 10 startups in the initial batch of the incubator will be completed this month (October) while 20 shortlisted teams from Intel & DST's "Innovate for Digital India' challenge will be eligible to use the Intel India Maker Lab without going through further selection process. Intel India Maker Lab plans to collaborate with incubators and accelerators of academic institutions, industry associations, as well as other corporate entities to offer the benefits of Intel India Maker Lab to hardware startups they are supporting.
"For a technology company to be relevant, it needs to constantly innovate and has a structure and culture of innovation prevalent in every aspect of its work. For many years now, we have been engaged with innovators and entrepreneurs through platforms like Intel India Embedded Challenge. It's very exciting to see the rapid growth in the number of startups in India and the way they are transforming the business with the use of technology," says Jitendra Chaddah, Director, Strategic Relations & Operations, Intel India.
(This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (October, 2015 Issue).