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Kerala Chief Minister on Saturday inaugurated a new 'Digital Hub' at Technology Innovation Zone in Kochi by the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM). The hub is envisaged to be a destination for designing and prototyping. The 4 lakh sq. ft. campus including the already functioning Integrated Startup Complex can support 365 start-ups, the state's CM Pinarayi Vijayan claimed. The Integrated Start-up Complex was set up two years ago. With this, the Technology Innovation Zone has become "one of the largest Startup spaces in South Asia," Vijayan said.

While inaugurating the Digital Hub, Vijayan said that five years ago, Kerala had 300 start-ups and now they have grown to 3,900--a whopping 13-fold rise in startups. He said the startups have created 35,000 jobs in the state.

Vijayan said the Kerala government is preparing a centralised start-up park system as he visualised that by 2026, the state might see 15,000 additional start-ups.

"Five years ago, there were 300 start-ups in Kerala, but today there are 3,900. At least 35,000 jobs have been created through this. Kerala is moving towards the target of 15,000 start-ups in the next five years. For this, the government is preparing a centralized start-up park system. In addition, Innovation Technology labs and incubators will be set up across the state," said CM Vijayan. The Phase-2 expansion of the Digital Hub will will be in a 3.40 square feet area.

Vijayan informed that venture capital worth 250 crore is anticipated from financial institutions such as Kerala Bank, Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), Kerala Finance Corporation (KFC)and Kerala State Financial Enterprises (KSFE) to promote start-ups. Additionally, venture funding with a corpus of 750 crore will be made available.

"If any start-ups attract investment from outside, matching investment will be made from this fund," he added.

Similarly, loans up to 1 crore without collateral security will be made available for the expansion of start-ups, Vijayan said.

At present, KSUM provides interest-free loans to startups. Vijayan said that the state will organise programmes such as ‘Innovation Challenge’ for the youths to prove their competence. Through this programme, the winners will get government assistance to market their product, he added.

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