The Government of Kerala is on a roll. With an annual investment of Rs 250 crore to boost IT infrastructure, the state certainly has a significant role to play. What´s more, it is promoting an autonomous society in Thiruvananthapuram Technopark that is among India's first technology parks and one of the three largest IT parks in India today. With the excellent work culture emanating from a large number of expatriates out of the state, investors certainly consider Kerala an attractive destination for IT investments. These factors successfully facilitated Technopark´s expansion into its third phase, which is nearing completion. Even as the Technopark team hosts a delegation from Botswana exploring investment opportunities in the park, KG Girish Babu, CEO, Technopark, speaks to MONISHA RAO about opportunities the third phase has on offer.
Tell us about the value addition Technopark has brought to the IT sector in Kerala. Technopark proves that stable infrastructure ought to be the prime feature of an IT park. The park not only provides subsidised electricity but the bandwidth through structured cabling. In fact, the satellite earth station set up at Technopark provided good bandwidth facility before optical fibres took over. Moreover, the park provides an environment and facilities that not only raise the standards of companies set up there but enhance their market value. The other notable feature of the park is its green ambience. Undoubtedly, it continues to be among the greenest IT parks in the country.
Why was Technopark conceptualised? Why Thiruvananthapuram?
Conceptualised in 1989-90, the project was inaugurated by the Prime Minister in 1995. Thiruvananthapuram consists of over 22 R&D institutions. The largest centres of Indian space research Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and Liquid Propulsion System Centre are also based in the city. It is home to leading educational institutions including Cotton Hill High School and Government Engineering College that have a long tradition of producing engineers who now occupy a majority of higher management spaces in major IT companies. Hence, the highly ´qualified´ city was an appropriate destination to establish the country´s first IT park. The serene environment and availability of highly educated youth were the driving forces behind Technopark's success.
In terms of setting quality standards, what is different about the upcoming Phase-3?
Designed by Architect Hafeez Contractor, this is one of the largest single IT buildings with LEED Gold standards. The total anticipated investment on Phase-3 is around Rs 3,500 crore. It is the first building with 1 million sq ft of built-up space and 150,000 sq ft of garden space on the podium. Although a part of the facility has already been commissioned, full-fledged investments will start within the next six months. Moreover, Phase-4 of the park, Technocity, will be the largest integrated township development in the state on completion. While Infosys's second campus will come up on the western side, Tata Consultancy Services is planning to build the world's largest training centre for 16,000 IT professionals on the eastern part of the development. The capital outlay for the TCS facility is Rs 3,600 crore. With the master plan of the development ready, construction is slated to commence soon.
What are the main facilities this development offers?
Technopark not only offers land and built-up space to IT companies but a fully fitted out, ready-to-occupy module for start-ups at a very reasonable cost. The Technology Business Incubator, a joint initiative of Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram, and the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, helps technology business start-ups with all the necessary resources and supports they require to evolve and grow as a ripened business. It has so far supported 195 start-ups and has been judged the second best technology business incubator in the world in 2011, and the best in Asia in 2012.
What is the per sq ft cost of the development or construction involved?
This depends on the type of building being constructed. The shell and core cost for Phase-3 that was Rs 1,500 per sq ft initially, has now increased to Rs 2,200 per sq ft. What is the nature of the companies that will occupy space in Phase-3?
We have bookings from about 30 companies; half of these are existing Technopark companies who are expanding while the rest are new entrants. Also, 90 per cent of the space is occupied by software development companies both in products and services with only one BPO company that will occupy space.
How many phases in total are planned for the project?
There are four phases for Technopark: Phase-1 is spread across 150 acre (31 acre SEZ), Phase-2 is spread over 86 acre (full SEZ) for Infosys and UST Global, while Phase-3 is spread over 92 acre (about 50 acre SEZ). Phase-4, or Technocity, is spread across 452 acre and is 4.5 km away from Technopark.
The total land area is 780 acre and we have already crossed 7.2 million sq ft of built-up space.
What impact has the development of this IT park had on realty prices in surrounding areas?
Technopark has created over 45,000 employment opportunities with an average salary of Rs 5 lakh per year. Hence, when Rs 2,250 crore is disbursed per year, at least 60 per cent of it is pumped into the local economy. This creates a huge impact on the behaviour of the city's business.
Overall, Technopark has left a notable impact on real-estate prices in Thiruvananthapuram.
What opportunities does Technopark provide for local vendors and suppliers?
Generally, when one seat is created for an IT professional, a minimum of three seats are created in the indirect sector. IT parks have mechanical, electrical and plumbing requirements; they need security, a food supply chain, florists, etc. Thus, Technopark, being the largest employee base in Kerala, provides huge opportunities for the direct and indirect sector.
What role has the Kerala Government played in leveraging the state´s IT infrastructure?
The Kerala Government has earmarked about 2,200 acre in 10 different locations in the state. It is developing IT infrastructure through KSITIL (Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd) in locations such as Kasaragod, Kannur, Kozhikode,Thrissur, Cherthala, Kollam etc. Our methodology is not to make profits directly from the rentals; which is precisely why we are not worried by the return on investments.
Project in numbers
Project: Technopark, Thiruvananthapuram
No. of phases: 4
No. of employees: Over 45,000
Total area: 780 acre (accross phases)
Built-up space: 7.2 million sq ft
Total investments on Phase 3: Rs. 3,500 crore
Per sq ft cost of building: Rs.2,200 per sq ft for warm
shell, Rs.3,800 per sq ft for furnished building
Area: 1 million sq ft of built-up space; 150,000 sq ft of
garden space on the podium, parking facility for 1,000+ cars