IESA Pushing Startup Innovation

The Indian Electronic and Semiconductor Association of India (IESA), the national trade body representing over 280 members in the electronics system design and manufacturing (ESDM) industry, is making efforts to strengthen the ecosystem for startups in the country.

Anil Kumar Muniswamy, chairman, IESA, told Telangana Today, “IESA has initiated a programme called SAFAL, through which we have created an accelerator to promote fabless semiconductor startups. This will help aspiring engineers or entrepreneurs to design a product. We give them free software at nominal rates. Startups need not to spend crores on software, and affordability becomes a major bottleneck for them. We help them design their products, which can be prototyped and then a final product can be developed from it. Fab can happen elsewhere and the entire product can be developed in India. Karnataka Government has given a grant of Rs 21.5 crore for this design center. Of this, Rs 8 crore has been released to establish two centers of excellence (COEs) in Hubli, one for ESDM and another for Very-large-scale integration (VLSI). Private partners have also partly funded for the CoEs.”

The IESA is going to encourage startups with the funding support. The idea is to subsidize the software through SAFAL programme. IESA is providing free incubation space for 6-12 months and networking opportunity.

The association is supporting the development of electropreneur parks in India. The first such park which has been created in the Delhi University has 30 startups with some of them already valued at around Rs 30-50 crore. It is run in coordination with Delhi University, Meity and Software Technology Parks of India (STPI). Funding has come from STPI and IESA is running the park.

“We have just signed a MoU with Bhubaneshwar government. We have received Rs 6 crore funding for the park from the government. Meity will also fund Rs 6 crore. STPI has given the place. We can explore opportunities in Telangana,” he informed.

India should go to the next level. China has taken a lead already. IESA has come out with a vision to make India a global hub for ESDM. Right now, companies in India are only adding value in a small portion of the entire value chain.

Muniswamy adds, “India should step up efforts in chip development, embedded systems, prototyping, hardware and testing capability in the mobile manufacturing besides quality plastics. The IESA has realized the fact that India should focus on design-led manufacturing. India can emerge as an electronics powerhouse if it can develop designs on it owns and carry out systems engineering (camera, sensors, plastic, aesthetics and designing of mobiles).”

Mobile phone shipments from India have crossed 1 billion. Most of the manufacturing has been happening in the form of completely knocked down (CKD) and semi-knocked down) SKD. The Indian government has recognized that though India is growing as a smartphone consumer market, the manufacturing has been minimal. Indian companies are struggling because of their dependence on China. To reverse this trend and address overseas dependence, the Centre has come out with Phased Manufacturing Programme, under which it is asking companies to set milestones for each year for indigenization of component development.

India’s local component manufacturing has crossed Rs 70,000 crore because of the policy move. By 2025, IESA wants India to become a global hub for ESDM as the country’s electronics consumption is likely to be reaching USD 400 billion by then, surpassing the oil bill. Dependency on electronics has increased significantly.

Tech impact

With the internet of things (IoT) and 5G to come to the mainstream, each household in India is going to have 15-20 electronic wireless gadgets. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are going to play a key role in the future. IoT will see the use of 50 billion devices by 2020, surpassing the earlier estimates. India should not become a dumping yard for outdated technology.

IESA is focusing on how India can design products, how youth can be involved in the development of future technologies, how governments can be supported to support the infrastructure.

IESA has rolled out Nethra initiative to skill engineers in the final semesters with industry interface, train and place them in industry. “India should also focus on IP and meeting domestic needs. Once we can address domestic requirements, we should look at exports,” he observes.

IESA has partnered with the Electronics Sector Skill Council to develop capabilities in the area of design and development going beyond manufacturing focus.―Telangana Today

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