Saturday, May 19, 2007

Impact of a top-notch engineering college on its neighborhood

Earlier we had argued how a top-notch engineering college such an IIT has a huge impact on the area where it is located in. Following is an article providing more concrete examples of that.

Tech cos setting up R&D centres near engineering colleges SOBHA

Don’t be surprised if you start seeing quite a buzz around cities
with reputed engineering colleges. And an increase in prosperity
too, for that matter. There are more and more tech companies looking
to setting up their R&D centres close to engineering colleges in
places like Manipal, Udipi, Trichy, Madurai, Udipi and Kharagpur.

Sankalp Semiconductors, a two-year-old start-up with about 45
engineers working on analog and digital mixed signal technologies,
operates right from the BVB Engineering College premises in Hubli.
“Besides Hubli’s colleges, we recruit from campuses in Nanded,
Berhampur in Orissa and Durgapur. So we are planning to set up our
next R&D facility at Durgapur or Kharagpur,” says Vivek Pawar, CEO,
Sankalp Semiconductors.

There’s IT services company, Able Technologies too, that’s operated
out of Dharwar in Karnataka for the last two years. “I source most
of my engineers from colleges in north Karnataka, so I don’t see any
reason to live in a tier one city,” says Jagdish Hiremath, CEO, Able

Tier one cities with their problems of increasing operating costs,
conjestion and pollution, just fails to stack up against these
towns. “You can’t give much thought to innovation and creating IP if
you spend most of your time travelling — which is what I was doing
in Bangalore,” says Mr Pawar about his decision to move lock,stock
and barrel to Hubli two years ago.

Says Poornima Shenoy, president, Indian Semiconductors Association:
“Engineering colleges are indeed turning to be quite a draw for
semiconductor startups. And in many states, the government is doing
its best by setting up incubation facilities and providing good
infrastructure.” The success of companies such as Robosoft, a
software company in Udipi, and Karmic (Karnataka Microelectronic
Design Centre), a semiconductor solutions company in Manipal, could
also be a reason for companies feeling more confident about
operating from smaller towns and cities.

And no, employees too don’t mind leaving big cities to live in
places like Manipal and Udipi. “It’s the work atmosphere that we
provide here that matters to them — and so we have people who have
come from Uttaranchal, Rajasthan and Manipur to work with us here in
Udipi,” a Robosoft official said. In fact, there are many who would
like return to their hometowns if only they had the job opportunity
there, says Mr Hiremath, who returned from the US to settle in
Dharwar. The tech boom’s apparently having a ripple effect.

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