Park Centre – The 'Engine Room'
It's a small building, with a small water pond in the forefront surrounded by a small, but smoothly cut lawn. The smallness ends there. For though it may seem rather quiet from the outside, almost as if devoid of any activity, there's a lot happening inside. This is Technopark's 'engine room', from where hands reach out to various companies in the form of support services. Technopark's Mission Statement reads, "Provide, Viably, Superior Environment and Services with Assured Quality of Service to Make Technology Businesses Intrinsically Competitive and Successful, and Promote Regional Development through Synergistic Linkages between Industry, Government and Academia, based on Continuous Improvement and Innovation. And Technopark's vision is to provide a holistic enabling environment to make the knowledge industry intrinsically competitive and world class.
Chandrasekharan Nair puts it in simple terms, "We are a customer focused organisation. We are not marketing a product. We are marketing our services. That's the difference between Technopark and other parks." Providing services – from A to Z – is the primary objective of the Technopark team, which incidentally, comprises of just 12 personnel. Adds Rajiv Vasudevan, Technopark's dynamic CEO, "Half my time goes is doing things that has nothing to do with selling space." He quickly interjects by adding, "Why half my time, much more." Like initiating a meeting with officials of the Income Tax department and company representatives and providing them a forum to have face-to-face discussions on various issues. Or training in English for the Technopark community. "We do it because we are talking of providing a holistic environment," he adds.
Technopark's Incubation Centre is for all those "small acorns that wish to someday, grow into big oaks". Springboard – that's what they call it. The idea is simple and catchy. Any budding entrepreneur looking for a low-cost, world-class establishment can set up their operations at Technopark, with as little space as 100 sq. ft. Everything is provided, furniture, machines and even satellite connectivity. It's also a great boon to the entrepreneur who has taken space in any of the building and needs to start operations while the interiors are being done, which invariably take 2-3 months to complete. He/she can operate from incubator space provided by Technopark. All he/she needs to do is, bring in the technology, the money, and "plug and play".
So, if they aren't just selling space, what else is it that they do? "Everyday is a challenge," says Lulu Augustine, Assistant Manager - Business Development of Technopark. Cochin-bred Lulu is new to the team but highly enthusiastic. Her primary role is client interface, both, existing client's as well as prospective. And typically, what would that mean? "The companies in the campus may require some assistance in getting their subsidies. Perhaps a letter from here or maybe our having to put in a word to the authorities concerned. Someone may require additional space, and we look into these requests. Anytime they want any assistance they have access to any of us here," explains Lulu. Technopark isn't into the normal upkeep of the building. Apparently, each building has its own society who looks after its maintenance and upkeep. The companies amongst themselves appoint a 'manager' who is paid by the society on a full-time basis.
There's more to Technopark than just play 'Jeeves'. The focus is "Future Kerala". In fact, one of the initiatives they want to usher in best exemplifies the extensions of their role. "We have this online programme called Competency Assessment Test for ITES (IT Enabled Services) coming up, which is a joint initiative with University of Kerala. They are putting up press releases in most of the new papers and myself and a person from the University went around the city colleges informing them about this programme," says Lulu. The programme is a long shot that might just work. Pretty innovative and the objective is for the long-term. "This is a pilot project and if things go well, we'll have this test in the whole of Kerala and it'll be an ongoing process," she adds.
Call it 'the taming of many birds with one initiative'. Firstly, students taking this online test will enable Technopark to build a fairly large data bank for companies in the ITES space to look at. Secondly, it serves as feedback for the University as to what is failing in their students, and fine tune their academic programmes. Strikes a chord somewhere? Take a closer look at their Mission Statement. These are the very initiatives that the statement is all about.
For a long time we pondered on what those three triangles in the Technopark logo stood for. Now we know – for Industry, Government and Academia.