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What does it take to create Silicon Valley!

December 29, 2013 1 comment

I was pointed out to a piece of news on TV, where a ruling chief minister of an Indian state apparently announced that he could make a particular state of India another Silicon Valley! Interesting!!

First, what’s the secret behind Silicon Valley? Well, I am not even qualified enough to state that! However, all I can say is: it is probably a desire to do something very different, and to make the world a better place – that’s possibly the biggest driver in all the entrepreneurs that have come to and out of Silicon Valley in the USA.

If you looked up Wikipedia, it says that the term Silicon Valley originally referred to the region’s large number of silicon chip innovators and manufacturers, but eventually, came to refer to all high-tech businesses in the area, and is now generally used as a metonym for the American high-technology sector.

So, where exactly is India’s high-tech sector? How many Indian state governments have even tried to foster such a sector? Ok, even if the state governments tried to foster, where are the entrepreneurs? Ok, an even easier one: how many school dropouts from India or even smal-time entrepreneurs have even made a foray into high-tech?

Right, so where are the silicon chip innovators from India? Sorry, I dd not even hear a word that you said? Can you speak out a little louder? It seems there are none! Rather, there has been very little to no development in India, barring the work that is done by the MNCs. Correct?
hsinchuOne friend told me that Bangalore is a place that can be Silicon Valley. Really? How?? With the presence of MNCs, he said! Well, Silicon Valley in the US does not have MNCs from other countries, are there? Let’s see! Some companies with bases in Silicon Valley, listed on Wikipedia, include Adobe, AMD, Apple, Applied Materials, Cisco, Facebook, Google, HP, Intel, Juniper, KLA-Tencor, LSI, Marvell, Maxim, Nvidia, SanDisk, Xilinx, etc.

Now, most of these firms have setups in Bangalore, but isn’t that part of the companies’ expansion plans? Also, I have emails and requests from a whole lot of youngsters asking me: ‘Sir, please advice me which company should I join?’ Very, very few have asked me: ‘Sir, I have this idea. Is it worth exploring?’

Let’s face the truth. We, as a nation, so far, have not been one to take up challenges and do something new. The ones who do, or are inclined to do so, are working in one of the many MNCs – either in India or overseas.

So, how many budding entrepreneurs are there in India, who are willing to take the risk and plunge into serious R&D?

It really takes a lot to even conceive a Silicon Valley. It takes people of great vision to build something of a Silicon Valley, and not the presence of MNCs.

Just look at Hsinchu, in Taiwan, or even Shenzhen, in China. Specifically, look up Shenzhen Hi-Tech Industrial Park and the Hsinchu Science Park to get some ideas.

Sensationally low turnout at electronica/productronica India 2011!

September 15, 2011 Comments off

electronica/productronica 2011 opens in Delhi.

electronica/productronica 2011 opens in Delhi.

I’ve spent two days at electronica/productronica 2011, going on at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. I am disappointed by the crowds or lack of crowds! This is said to be the premier show for electronics in India, isn’t it? The venue is as central as one can expect. Even then?

To start off, I missed the opening ceremony. That was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Local Mobile Phone Manufacturing-Opportunity or Challenge.’ With all due respects to the participants, it was one of the worst panel discussions I’ve ever attended! Perhaps, it was of some use to those present in the auditorium.

Later, while going around the various exhibition halls, I was asked by quite a number of friends in the electronics industry whether it was wise for them to have participated, given that the turnout had been so very low! Now, I am no one to answer that question!! However, it seems that there is very little interest left in the Indian electronics industry. It may sound pessimistic, but so it is!

The Indian telecom equipment manufacturing sector is going through a critical phase where the benefits of development of the telecom sector’s growth have not been carried over to the manufacturing domain. There is also a need to encourage indigenous R&D and creation of Indian IPR/patents. Was anything remotely close to this on display? I don’t think so!!

element14 contracts me to cover EmTech India 2011!


Friends, it is my pleasure to inform all of you that element14 has contracted yours truly to cover the EmTech India 2011 show — to be held at the ITC Royal Gardenia on March 22-23. May I add that my entire coverage — around eight sessions and four interviews — will be available for everyone to access on element 14’s website, exclusively!

element14 is adding and seeding content and threads into the group created at http://www.element-14.com/community/groups/emtech-india-2011.

EmTech India 2011 starts on March 22, at 9am, with the inaugural session on India Innovates. This will be followed by several plenary sessions, the first being the Future of Energy, presented by Daniel G. Nocera.

This will be followed by a plenary on Next Generation Regenerative Medicine by Jeffrey M. Karp, Assistant Prof., Medicine and Health Sciences and Technology and Director, Laboratory for Advanced Biomaterials and Stem-Cell-Based Therapeutics, Harvard Medical School Brigham & Women’s Hospital.

There will be a panel discussion titled ‘Activating the Innovation Gene’, to be moderated by Prof D Balasubramaniam. Participants in the panel discussion include Dr Chetan Chitnis, principal leader, Malaria Group, ICGEB (malaria), Dr Udaykumar Ranga, Prof. JNCASR Bangalore (HIV), Dr Kumaravel Somasundaram, Associate Prof., IISc. (cancer stem cells), Dr Annapurni Rangarajan, Associate Prof., NCBS, TIFR (potential and cancer stem cells).

Post lunch, the sessions continue with a plenary on Location-Aware Wireless Networks by Moe Win, Associate Prof. of Aeronautics and Astronautics Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems, MIT, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

This will be followed by a panel discussion on Global Communications & Collaborations — the Future of Mobile Technology (LTE/4G).  Day 1 concludes with the India TR35 awards ceremony.

Day 2 starts with with an EmTech 2011 Roundup on INDIA INNOVATES. This willl be followed by plenary sessions, with the first one on Ubiquitous Technologies by Kent Larson, director of the Changing Places research group at the MIT Media Lab.

This will be followed by a plenary on ‘Fueling the Future’, where biofuel/bio energy innovations shoud come up. Next, there will be a panel discussion on ‘Energy Mix of the Future’, where the panel will look at some of the emerging trends. The panelists include Prof. Ambuj Sagar, Prof. J Srinivasan and Dr Ajay Mathur.

Post lunch, day 2 will feature a plenary on the ‘Future of Computing,’ which will be followed by a panel discussion on the ‘Future of Search.’ The late afternoon will feature an R&D panel on ‘Lab to Market: Success is Not Final, Failure is Not Fatal.’ The concluding keynote will be on Enterprise 2.0 presented by Andrew McAfee.

There is a disclaimer, which advices patrons to please note that all times, topics, and speakers are subject to change. The organizers would also add several new parallel sessions including technology demonstrations.

Hope to see you there and stay tuned at the elenent14 website for my live posts! 😉

India needs to become major hardware player!

September 7, 2010 1 comment

This headline is sweet music to my ears! I have been waiting patiently to see that happens. Of course, this line was repeated today at the opening day of the Electronica India 2010 and Productronica 2010 at the sprawling Bangalore International Exhibition Center.

Day 1 at Electronica and Productronica India 2010!

Day 1 at Electronica India 2010 and Productronica India 2010!

“Bangalore should become the hardware capital of India,” according to Ananth Kumar, MP and former Union minister of Urban Development. Bangalore should not only be known as the software capital and silicon valley of India. “That should be the main aim of Electronica India 2010 expo.”

“India also needs hardware parks, besides software parks,” he added. India needs hardware parks that should be more like multiplexes. He mentioned that taxation regime in Karnataka was also blocking development of electronics hardware. Hardware should also enjoy the taxation benefits that hardware enjoys, he stressed. “We should be the major exporters of hardware.”

There are several highlights from day one of Electronica India 2010. I hope you get a chance to pick up the show daily being produced by yours truly on behalf of the Global SMT & Packaging magazine, thanks to my good friend and ex-colleague Debashish Chowdhury.

Some of the highlights are:

* David W. Bergman, vice president, International Relations, IPC, USA, pointed out that the broker business seems to be the next industry segment that seems to be growing.
* Infineon and NavSemi have introduced an innovative next-generation solar charge controllers for Indian market.
* Juki India Pvt Ltd is showcasing a variety of high- to low-end products such as high speed chip shooter, fine pitch laser, and machine for LED market and entry level EMS companies.
* Bergen Systems is offering total solution for electronic board assembly.
* The ASYS Group has plans to open an India office in January 2011.
* EPS Worldwide is focusing on conformal coating solutions.
* RS Components is quite bullish on India.

I also met a supplier who has an e-bike. Need to catch up with him sometime soon!

It was also great to catch up with Bhupinder Singh and Sunali Agarwaal of MMI India, Anil Kumar of IPCA, as well as Ranga Prasad of Aqtronics, and several other folks, who, up until now, were merely friends over email or telephone.

More later, time permitting!

ISA Vision Summit 2010: Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010 unveiled; great opportunity for India to show we mean business!

February 2, 2010 4 comments

Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010 released at ISA Vision Summit 2010 by Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa and Hon’ble IT and BT Minister, Katta Subramanya Naidu, along with B.V. Naidu, chairman, ISA and other dignitaries.

Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010 released at ISA Vision Summit 2010 by Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa and Hon’ble IT and BT Minister, Katta Subramanya Naidu, along with B.V. Naidu, chairman, ISA and other dignitaries.

The much awaited Karnataka Semicon Policy was released today at the ISA Vision Summit 2010 by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa and Hon’ble IT and BT Minister, Katta Subramanya Naidu, along with B.V. Naidu, chairman, ISA, and chairman and CEO, Sagitaur Ventures India Pvt Ltd, and other dignitaries.

Way back, on 25 July 2008, it was first mentioned that Karnataka could have its own semicon policy, as announced during the ISA ExCite event that day. The state semicon policy has taken own time coming — a little over 18 months!

Well, better late than never! The Indian state of Karnataka now has its own semiconductor poilcy, which was unveiled today at the ISA Vision Summit by the IT Department, Government of Karnataka, along with the ISA.

Karnataka’s target: $120 billion by 2020
Prior to the policy’s release, B.V. Naidu said: “The ISA welcomes the Karnataka Semicon Policy and we are happy that most of our recommendations to the government have been considered. This policy will play a significant role for achieving $120 billion electronic system design and manufacturing industry to grow in Karnataka.”

This means: of the national target of $400 billion by 2020 set by ISA for the Indian semiconductor industry, the Karnataka state is expected to achieve 30 percent!

Karnataka semicon policy features
Am very sure a lot of you are very keen to know about the policy! Presenting the salient features of the Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010.

Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa, highlights key points of the Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010.

Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa, highlights key points of the Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010.

* To encourage setting up of semiconductor units in tier-2 cities, other than Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli, an incentive of investment-promotion-subsidy would be provided in accordance with the Karnataka Industrial Policy 2009-2014.
* Govt. of Karnataka would provide additional amount of Rs. 25 crores, toward 26 percent contribution to the KITVEN (Karnataka IT venture capital fund) IT Fund for raising funds from the market to assist startup semiconductor units engaged in design and embedded software.
* Govt. of Karnataka would provide financial assistance to firms for filing IP in accordance with the incentives provided in the industrial policy.
* Govt. of Karnataka will provide assistance of 50 percent of the total cost toward purchase of proposed equipment for augmenting the Orchid Tech Space in the STPI to a Characterization Lab. The remaining funds would come from the industry or mobilized through PPP business model. This Lab will be a one-stop solution for hi-tech facilities and will spur growth of R&D in future technology without financial burden to budding entrepreneurs.
* ATMP units will be encouraged with special incentives in the proposed ITIR near BIAL (Bangalore International Airport), Bangalore. (Special incentives for ITIR to be announced separately).
* Govt. of Karnataka would provide all encouragement and assistance to the solar PV manufacturing units under the Karnataka Renewable Energy Policy.
* To encourage setting up of ATMPs in the state, Govt. of Karnataka would provide incentives to units set up in the state by lowering the threshold investments for ATMPs/ecosystem units with investments above Rs. 400 crores and up to Rs. 1,000 crores. Incentives would be provided on a case-to-case basis approach based on specific employment potential.
* As a policy support, to encourage innovation and R&D in chip design, product development, telecom, etc., the Govt. will set up a fund known as ‘Karnataka Fund for Semiconductor Excellence’ of Rs. 10 crores. This fund will be available to the private companies covering up to 50 percent of their R&D expenses, subject to a limit of Rs. 10 lakhs per unit. This financial assistance would be subject to repayment of 10 percent of the profit (after tax) annually for a period of 10 years. Preference would be given to fresh engineering graduates by identifying talent through projects submitted in the college and start-up companies.
* A committe comprising of representatives of VTU, ISA, industry, scientists, and financial institutions would be set up to monitor the activities and functioning of the fund.
* Karnataka Power Corp. and Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd would take steps to develop solar farms on joint ventures/PPP mode in Bijapur, Gulbarga, Raichur and Bellary districts.
* Govt. to set up a focused school under IIIT at a cost of Rs. 10 crores and strengthen the research labs in the institute at a cost of Rs. 5 crores with a contribution of 25 percent from the industry.
* Fiscal incentives would be provided to semiconductor units as per the Karnataka Industrial Policy 2009-2014.
— Investment promotion subsidy.
— Exemption from stamp duty to MSME, large and mega projects.
— Concessional registration charges to MSME, large and mega projects.
— Waiver off conversion fine to MSME, large and mega projects.
— Exemption from entry tax to MSME, large and mega projects.
— Incentives for export oriented enterprises for MSME, large and mega projects.
— Subsidy for setting up ETPs to MSME, large and mega projects.
— Interest free loans on VAT to large and mega projects.
— Anchor units subsidy to first two manufacturing enterprises with minimum employment of 100 members and a minimum investment of Rs. 50 crores.
— Special incentives for enterprises coming up in low HDI districts for large and mega projects.
— Interest subsidy to micro manufacturing enterprises.
— Exemption from electricity duty to micro and small manufacturing enterprises.
— Technology upgradation, quality certification and patent registration for micro and small manufacturing enterprises.
— Water harvesting/slash conservation measures to small and medium manufacturing enterprises in all zones.
— Energy conservation, small and medium manufacturing enterprises in all zones.
— Additional incentives to the enterprises following reservation policy of the state.
— Refund of cost incurred for preparation of project report for micro and small manufacturing enterprises.

Now, let’s take a look at what the Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010 achieved and areas that need clarity! Read more…

Has India done enough in the past to boost electronics hardware manufacturing?

December 13, 2009 7 comments

I had mixed feelings on reading a press release on the recommendations from the Task Force set up by the Ministry of Communications & IT, Government of India in August 2009 to suggest measures to stimulate the growth of IT, ITeS and electronics hardware manufacturing in the country. However, I was quite surprised to see a news suggesting an amendment of the Indian semiconductor policy!

First, the Task Force’s recommendations. I’ll only focus on the electronics manufacturing bit! For electronics system design and manufacturing — it suggests the following:

* Establishing a ‘National Electronics Mission’ -– a nodal agency for the electronics Industry within DIT and with direct interface to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). The nodal agency would help in the synchronized functioning of the Industry through effective coordination across Ministries and Government Departments in the Centre and the States and would enhance the ease of doing business.
* Nurturing established electronics manufacturing clusters and develop them into centres of excellence, while encouraging new ones.

Isn’t this old wine in new bottles?
Also, have we really done enough in  the past to even boost electronics hardware manufacturing in the country? If yes, then where are the mini Hsinchus and Shenzhens within India? Even N. Vittal had said something similar (such as developing mini Hong Kongs and Singapores) some years ago!

India already has an Electronics Hardware Technology Park (EHTP) scheme. The business of establishing key electronics manufacturing clusters and developing them into centres of excellence — while encouraging new ones — should have been taken care of much, much earlier! By much. much earlier — at least 10-15 years ago!

By the time the Task Force’s recommendations are acted upon, a year or two more would have easily passed! That stretches the manufacturing gap even further!

Let me ask one question: how well is India known globally for its local telecom manufacturing companies, or, even hardware manufacturing companies? Why am I asking this question? Well, when the National Telecom Policy was announced back in 1994. Many would recall there were a lot of astronomical bids — especially the ones from Himachal Futuristic. What many overlook is the fact that the period actually presented a brilliant opportunity before India to become a leader in telecom and electronics hardware manufacturing! However, that hasn’t and never quite happened!

The Indian electronic components story is more or less the same! India’s electronic components and accessories ecosystem industry is currently moderate. It used to be 15 percent and has now grown to 35 percent. This should be grown even further! Are we backing the electronic components segment enough?

What sort of guidance or hand holding will be provided to those firms who look to develop India-based product companies? For that matter, how many great software products have been conceptualized, designed and developed in India that are worth mentioning?

Further, an interesting fact brought up time and again within the Indian industry is the requirement of a robust entrepreneurial spirit, and the need for much more sources of funding for semiconductor product companies. Who all are helping the Indian semicon startups?

And then, there’s this news that suggests amending the existing Indian semiconductor policy! It is sheer bad luck that silicon IC fabs haven’t happened in India, as yet! Although HSMC and SemIndia started off with good intentions, things got sidetracked due to various reasons. Now, solar PV has attracted several players. It was also part of the semicon policy, isn’t it? So, where is the question of amending the policy?

Yes, there is definitely a need to develop strong entrepreneurial spirit within the country and encourage local product development, rather than remain contented with a services-oriented mindset and industry.

Last July, during the ISA Excite, there was an announcement that Karnataka would have its semicon policy soon. It hasn’t happened yet, but I hope it will!

Nevertheless, here’s what I wrote last year on what India brings to the semicon world (and Japan), as I attempted to answer this question from a friend:

What are India’s strengths?
The clear strengths of the Indian semiconductor industry are embedded and design services! We are NOT YET into product development, but one sincerely hopes that it gathers pace.

The market drivers in India are mobile phone services, IT services/BPO, automobiles and IT hardware. India is also very strong in design tools, system architecture and VLSI design, has quite strong IP protection laws, and is reasonably strong in concept/innovation in semiconductors.

Testing and packaging are in a nascent stage. India will certainly have more of ATMP facilities. Nearly every single semicon giant has an India presence! That should indicate the amount of interest the outside world has on India. In fact, I am told, some key decisions are now made out of the Bangalore based outfits!

I had also suggested a 10-point program for the Karnataka semicon policy — in another blog post — on June 29, 2008. The points were:

1. A long-term semiconductor policy running 20-25 years or so.
2. Core team of top Indian leaders from Indian firms and MNCs, as well as technology institutes in Karnataka to oversee policy implementation.
3. Incentives such as government support, including stake in investments, and tax holidays.
4. Strong infrastructure availability and management.
5. Focus on having solar/PV fabs in the state.
6. Consider having 150/180/200mm fabs that tackle local problems via indigenous applications.
7. Develop companies in the assembly testing, verification and packaging (ATMP) space.
8. Attract companies in fields such as RFID, to address local problems and develop local applications.
9. Pursue companies in PDP, OLED/LED space to set up manufacturing units.
10. Promote and set up more fabless units.

There should be some steps to create specific zones for setting up such units — for fabs, fabless, ATMP, manufacturing, etc., all spread equally across the state.

Well, can’t all of this be extended across the country, rather than Karnataka alone? It sure can! What wasn’t done earlier, should be done now. Better late than never!

There’s also a lack of funding for certain semicon and hardware manufacturing areas/projects. This is another aspect that needs to be looked into.

As I’ve mentioned time and again to some friends within the Indian semiconductor industry and solar /PV industry — the semicon policy (earlier), and the National Solar Mission (now), are meant to help you guys! It is up to you — the industry folks — to make things happen! If you don’t, who will?

I am sure that the Task Force’s recommendations are very well thought out and quite robust. I don’t have the luxury of reading a copy, barring the release, and so there’s nothing for me to add. Best wishes to the Indian electronics hardware manufacturing industry and may it succeed greatly in future.

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