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NE start-ups impacted by lockdown

Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 14:30 [IST]

Last Update: Tuesday, Jun 02, 2020 09:06 [IST]

NE start-ups impacted by lockdown

ISABELLA GURUNG
GANGTOK: Several start-ups in the Northeastern region were severely impacted by the coronavirus-induced lockdown, especially during the first month.
At least 14 start-ups registered with the Atal Incubation Centre (AIC)- Sikkim Manipal University Technology Business Incubation Foundation (SMUTBI) at Majhitar, faced various problems during the lockdown as they couldn’t market their products, TejChingtham, the CEO of SMUTBI told SIKKIM EXPRESS.
Commenting on the effects of the lockdown on start-ups, availing Central government schemes and new business ideas, Chingtham said the incubation centre had to be closed during the first phase of total lockdownas it was sudden and authorities were not prepared for it. “The incubation centre was reopened a month ago with a limited 30 per cent work force. We have 14 start-ups/incubatees working with us, and they too are working with 30 per cent work force,” he informed.
Among other issues,start-ups products in agri-tech were wasted or ruined.
“The plants were destroyed as they could not pluck the plant on time, due to the lockdown. Since they could not sell it, they had to make their payments for salary, without earning. The start-ups faced a lot of problems but we are trying to rectify the problems through our existing infrastructure,”the CEO added.
AIC-SMUTBI is the first AIC in the entire north-east region and has been envisioned as one of the 100 world-class incubators of the central government. It is fully supported by NITIAayogunder Atal Innovation Mission (AIM). Currently, there are 14 start-ups from across North-East India incubated at AIC-SMUTBI.
AIC-SMUTBI aims at supporting entrepreneurs and build an ecosystem for start-ups in the early stage.
In the initial three years of establishing a start-ups/business, there are high chances of failure. The main reasons being legal matters, licensing, financial issues and not knowing where to sell their products among others.“Our incubation centre guides them, creates a network and provides legal consultancy at a nominal cost, on a contractual basis,”said the CEO.
“As we are supported by NITIAayog, in case there is a problem with regard to some of our incubatees, we report the matter to NITIAayog and they advise us accordingly, so that the incubatees don’t fail. If a local business is successful here, there is more employment generation and job opportunities for the locals. This is the whole intent of generating more start-ups and businesses. Our main work is to support them and help them grow. Incubator is what the incubation does,” he explained.
Apart from their original businesses, the entrepreneurs are also working on varieties of mechanism so that they can generate something positive out of the pandemic. The incubators and some start-ups are currently working on developing some products. The incubation centre has a fabrication lab and start-ups have started producing 3D printed masks that can be used as N95 masks. “We have applied for certification and licensing of the mask but have not received medical clearance yet. One of the start-ups has also created a contactless dispenser for sanitizers. We haven’t started its sale yet,”he informed.
Chingtham underlined that based on the current pandemic situation, the start-ups can take advantage of the situation and come up with ideas that can help ease the life of their consumers during the pandemic. New avenues will open up, he said.
Regarding the various Central government start-up schemes, the centre has communicated with the start-ups regarding the schemes and how to avail it. “We constantly make our incubatees aware of the schemes, as-and-when the notifications of the schemes come to us. Some have already applied for the schemes,”he added.
AIC-SMUTBI at Majhitar, Rangpo was inaugurated by Governor Ganga Prasad on February 15, earlier this year.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi