The IIIT campus in Hyderabad was brimming with activity on Thursday evening as the ever-enterprising Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons inaugurated the T-Hub which has been touted as India's largest technology incubator.
"This can be the starting point of that new wave," he said, referring to a new beginning in India’s engineering and scientific ventures.
Speaking at the event, Telangana IT Minister K T Rama Rao said, "This is not for Telangana techies alone but to attract talent from across the country."
So what exactly is it?
The T-hub is a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership between the Telangana government, three central academic institutes - IIIT-H, Indian School of Business (ISB), NALSAR Law University and private entities.
The main aim of the partnership is to aid technology-related start-ups and the 'hub' provides an innovation driven ecosystem for these companies at a nominal fee. The incubator is expected to be a vantage point for entrepreneurs and investors from India and the world, as it is hard for start-ups to acquire sophisticated infrastructure and professional services.
The T-hub will allow its members to share office space with other budding companies. Members will also have access to exclusive launches and to professional services at negotiated rates.
Member companies can also take part in events, seminars that will host experts from various fields. Moreover, it will allow entrepreneurs to interact and talk about tackling common problems.
"If you take Silicon Valley, the University Avenue, the joke is that you just learn by osmosis. If you walk down the street, knowledge is just hitting you from everywhere. When you have such a large bunch of people, investors, mentors, start-ups from multiple areas, the neighbourhood, you just learn by talking to other people," said K Srinivas, the Chief Operating Officer of T-Hub.
While the ISB helps with the business aspect of the start-up, IIIT helps with the technology and NALSAR will help with the patents.
Other than that, experts would be made available to guide companies that show potential to become industry leaders.
The first phase of the T-hub, which is officially functional since yesterday, is called 'The Catalyst.'
The Catalyst, which in itself is a state-of-the-art building with 70,000 sq. feet, is expected to host entrepreneurs, investors, VCs, advisors and mentors, alongside providing office space and seed funding.
The building situated at Gachibowli alongside IIIT, will host start-ups for a minimum of six months before they move out, making way for others, since it can only accommodate start-ups with a maximum of 14 employees. According to the Telangana government officials, it is expected to host 1,000 startups by the end of 2020.
"We already have 130 startups that signed up while another 150 are in the queue. We can't accommodate more than 150," said T-Hub Chief Operating Officer Srinivas Kollipara.
Another 200 companies are in the pipeline, waiting for their turn.
The facility is aimed at exploiting the engineering and scientific talents, which are in abundance in the adjoining areas, where most of the multinational IT companies, including Google and Microsoft have their headquarters.
How does one apply?
The ideas will be screened by a team of experts. Although primarily a platform for promoting technology startups, The T-hub will also accommodate graduates or diploma holders to encourage creativity.
The idea was proposed by the Telangana Government in January 2015, to make Hyderabad the start-up capital of the country, within six months.
To compete with Bangalore, which has attracted many start-ups even from outside the country, the T-hub aims to provide all that’s required for a start-up to grow, under one roof.
A sum of Rs 5,000 per month has to be paid for a seat, while a cabin could cost Rs. 50,000 for the same duration.
Chief Executive Officer Jay Krishnan said that a company could stay a maximum of one year, if they could prove their worth within six months.
Companies do not have to be registered in Hyderabad in order to access the facilities at the T-hub.
The second phase of the T-hub is expected to be ready by 2017. It would have 3,00,000 sq. feet of space and is expected to cost Rs 150 crores.Telangana IT Minister K T Rama Rao said that the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and University of Texas are also being asked to offer their expertise.