Start-up accelerator Microsoft Ventures and the Deshpande Foundation have tied up to launch Sandbox Startups, an incubation initiative to support start-ups in Tier II and Tier III cities.
A Memorandum of Understanding for the three-year initiative was signed on August 23 in the presence of Gururaj 'Desh' Deshpande, Founder, Deshpande Foundation; Jairam Ramesh, former Union minister; Rajinish Menon, Director, Microsoft Ventures in India; Naveen Jha, CEO, Deshpande Foundation; and Phanindra Sama, CEO, redBus.in, among others.
India is seeing a spurt in entrepreneurial initiatives across the country and those who want to start their own ventures are not restricted to the usual and well-known start-up hubs like Bangalore, Delhi, Pune, Mumbai and Hyderabad.
However, there is a vast difference in support, funding and mentoring infrastructure to entrepreneurs in smaller cities as compared to the hubs. Sandbox Startups is intended to help bridge the gap.
"We realised that Tier II and Tier III kids have a much stronger first-hand understanding of the real problems on the ground," says Jha.
To begin with, the joint initiative has set up a 20,000 square feet incubation space in Hubli, Karnataka where all sorts of technology start-ups, both for-profits and not-for-profits will be incubated.
Founded by Gururaj Deshpande and Jaishree Deshpande, the Deshpande Foundation already operates 'Social Innovation Sandbox' in Hubli, a start-up incubator for social-impact oriented start-ups, which is focused on promoting social entrepreneurship.
It also has operations in Nizamabad in Telangana. The Sandbox programme provides seed funding, skill development and support through its mentor network.
Some of the startups that have availed incubation as part of this initiative are nanoPix, an image processing company that has designed an algorithm to grade cashew nuts and NextDrop, which has developed an SMS-based water-alert system.
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