Interview with Ashton Souza, Director, Goa Information Technology Innovation Centre
1. Could you tell us what is the GITIC and where is it located?
The GCCI and Department Industries Government of Goa pioneered Goa’s IT Incubator for fostering ideas and empowering this vast talent pool that Goa generates by hand holding them and commercializing their technology through its state of the art IT incubator which is set up at Verna.
2. What was the aim and purpose of opening a centre of this sort here in Goa?
The GITIC is the manifestation of the vision to provide a launch pad to jumpstart businesses of our home grown IT talent. This vision was envisaged by the GCCI, under its various presidents, starting from Mr. Nitin Kunkolienkar , Cesar Menezes and now the dynamic Manguirish Pai Raikar. The Department of Industries-Government of Goa headed by Mr.Sanjit Rodrigues was proactive and provided grants and direction to realise this vision. The purpose is to increase self-employment opportunities for Goa’s technocrats.
What are the facilities that are being offered here? How can one avail of these services?
• 48 Plug and Play work stations
• Business Centre
• Advisory Cell
• Seminar/Meeting/Conference rooms
• Mentoring Committee
• 24 hour Internet connectivity
• VOIP Technology on request and billing as per actuals.
• Telephone facility, (both internal and external) with advanced Centrax technology
• Shared Fax, Printer and Photocopier facility
• Opportunity to network with doyens of the IT industry
• RFID based access control system
• Fully air-conditioned with cabin independent climate control
• Backup power supply
• Security camera, 24-hour security to ensure high-level security
• Facility management
An entrepreneur who has a business idea in IT should download our form, fill it and mail it to us, thereafter it is scrutinised by the GITIC screening committee and if the idea is found to be promising then the company is incubated for a period of two years.
3. Who are liable to be a part of the incubation center?
Anyone who has a promising business idea in IT can be incubated in the centre
4. How has the response from the locals been? Have there been a lot of entrepreneurs availing of this benefit?
The response has been heartening. In a months time we have incubated 3 companies so far and rejected 4. We are positive that in due time the centres capacity will be optimally utilised .Quantity is not what we are looking for, quality is. Many applicants are established entities and want to carry out their business from GITIC but our core character does not permit that since it’s our mission to provide start-ups with assistance and hence established players are outright rejected
5. Why, in your opinion, is an incubation center of this sort beneficial to the State?
Above 1200 students pass out from Goan IT institutes and colleges every year. Many of them are brimming with ideas but don’t have the knowledge to convert these ideas into a successful business so the only option for them is to leave the state and work elsewhere or change their line altogether thereby causing a tremendous brain drain. This is where GITIC fills the gap, by empowering them to understand the business processes, permissions required, taxation policies and other start- up related issues and providing them with infrastructure. Since the infrastructure is provided by GITIC, the potential losses and depreciation of capital goods that new businesses typically face will be annulled. This substantially minimizes entry barriers for entrepreneurs thereby encouraging an entrepreneurial ecosystem within Goa. Due to this the entrepreneur will not fail per say and therefore failure is counted as experience.
The benefit the state will get is that GITIC will create entrepreneurs who will provide opportunities rather than consume what's there in the market. We expect to churn out about 10 successful companies yearly about 15% of the existing industry, this organic growth will put Goa on an unprecedented IT growth trajectory.
6. Currently, where does Goa stand in terms of IT exposure as compared to other States and how will the center help ?
There are about 65 IT companies operating from Goa out of which 5 are big companies. The 60 small scale companies on an average have about 3 to 4 employees but are doing well for themselves. However if Goa has to replicate the success of Bangalore, then the government will have to create a dynamic IT policy for the state, define licensing procedures well and create an environment conducive for the growth . It would also be a boost to the Goan IT firms if the entrepreneurs would be provide an opportunity to develop software for the Government Departments and corporations since the Government is the single largest customer in the state of Goa.
The Government has to place IT as the priority sector since IT being a non polluting industry will be a boon for the state of Goa. Having said this Goa’s IT exposure is inadequate and if the existing entities are given a boost by the government then Goa can catch the bus. The idea is to be the best never the biggest.
7. In a span of about 5 years, where do you see the IT scene develop in the State?
Our IT institutes are hotbeds of talent. If we can channelize the creative energies of these students then IT will coherently develop in the state and we will be at par if not better than our competitors per say. More so, by then, GITIC will churn out about 50 companies which will add depth to the existing value chain in the IT domain.