25 September 2022 12:24:28 IST

IIT Guwahati, a hotbed of entrepreneurship 

The reverse trike, developed by Urjjah EV mobility, and incubated at IIT Guwahati’s Technology Incubation Centre | Photo Credit: Picasa

Jaikhlong Daimary, who hails from northeast India, was enthused by the huge prospect that the tourism sector offered in the region and wanted to develop a product to tap the demand. The idea was to develop a prototype of a self-driven vehicle to offer convenience and a different level of experience to tourists.

With a little technical guidance and support in the form of a soft loan from the Indian Institute of Technology’s Guwahati Technology Incubation Centre (TIC), Daimary, along with Ruth Sangma, set up Urjjah EV Mobility to develop and manufacture a reverse trike (a vehicle with two wheels in front and one at the back) to open up a new segment for tourism in India. 

“We wanted to develop and manufacture micro-mobility solutions. We were looking at EVs for tourism and we realised that there isn’t any such (reverse trike) vehicle for tourists which can be self-driven. So, we decided to come up with one such product. We were incubated recently and we got guidance and soft loan support from IIT Guwahati for this,” Daimary told  BL on Campus

When IIT Kharagpur graduates, Pankaj Kumar and Siddhant Agarwal, came back from Singapore, they realised there is a huge potential for developing floating solar solutions for a country like India where the availability of large tracts of land for setting up solar plants is a huge constraint. With a little bit of guidance from IIT Guwahati TIC, they set up a cleantech company called Quant Solar to design and develop this solution which obviates the need for land by installing solar panels on lakes, ponds, reservoirs and lagoons. 

“We started with a pilot project in Assam and that is when we needed support and IIT Guwahati provided us guidance and also gave us a soft loan. Following this, we got an opportunity to do many big projects. We are among the two or three companies that offer solutions in this space,” says Kumar, Co-founder, Quant Solar. 

Urjjah EV Mobility and Quant Solar are among the 40-odd start-ups which have been incubated by IIT Guwahati TIC. Some of these start-ups work across sectors such as robotics, biotech, Information Technology, mechanical, IoT, solar, renewable, water, elearning, prosthetic devices and vermicompost among others. 

To incubate more start-ups 

According to Prof Vaibhav V Goud, Chairperson, TIC, IIT Guwahati, the incubation centre was set up almost 13 years back to facilitate a platform for a budding entrepreneur to start a business venture with minimum risks. Some of the start-ups incubated are from across India and some are also from northeast India. 

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar along with Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma interacting with Urjjah EV Mobility start-up team

The TIC not only provides space for new entrepreneurs and young minds to transform innovative ideas into viable business propositions, but it also helps with technical support, business mentoring, and a soft loan facility (subject to availability). 

Its goal is to encourage entrepreneurial initiatives amongst the students, faculty and alumni of IIT Guwahati and other individuals interested in entrepreneurship across the country, thereby generating a vibrant business-oriented environment. 

The centre aims to promote advancement in science and technology, traditional knowledge and biodiversity resources, facilitate a platform for entrepreneurship and incubating research mindset for the development of society, and create an interface among researchers, technocrats, and industries. 

“We are looking to incubate another 30-odd start-ups in this financial year (2022-23) across all sectors including robotics, biotech, IT, mechanical, IoT, solar, renewable, water, elearning,” elaborates Goud. 

Funding support 

IIT Guwahati’s TIC is one of the business incubators approved and recognised by the Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME). Grant assistance from The Technology Development Board, under the Ministry of Science and Technology, has also been approved to support start-ups. 

It is open to all sectors of incubatees/start-ups and supports them in converting their ideas into successful business ventures. It connects to a pool of experts in terms of faculties, funding agencies such as Oil India Ltd (OIL) and Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL), among others, and other financial institutions like Indian Bank and YES bank.

“IITG TIC has a soft loan product from the fund received from two funding agencies of the government (TIDE Scheme, Department of Information Technology and TDB Scheme, DST, New Delhi). Recently, IITG TIC has also been selected under Start India Seed Fund Scheme with significant financial support mainly to provide financial assistance to start-ups. Apart from that, IITG TIC has an MoU with OIL India Ltd and Numaligarh Refinery for funding start-ups incubated in IITG-TIC. But lot more to do in the area of start-up funding,” says Goud. 

The Centre also focuses on the empowerment of women in terms of entrepreneurship, and in this regard, IITG TIC has partnered with NSRCEL-IIMB for Women Start-up Programme. This programme aims to support ambitious innovative women entrepreneurs by enabling them to transform their ideas into business ventures.  

“As a part of our MoU with NSRCEL, IIM Bangalore, under this programme seven women start-ups graduated last year from IITG TIC and this year the screening of the fourth cohort of the Women Start-up Programme is in process and this year we are expecting more women start-ups to be incubated at IITG TIC,” he explains