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Will push the idea of co-working spaces within govt: Sitharaman

Karan Choudhury/New Delhi 20 Jun 17 | 01:54 AM

At least one central minister is taken by the latest fad among start-ups, of promoting co-working spaces.

On Monday, commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman said she planned to write to MPs in states where there has been a surge of start-ups, urging them to open such co-working spaces. She had, she said, used her own Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme fund to create a co-working space for start-ups in Mangaluru, Karnataka. It houses a 60-seater complex, enabling at least 120 companies in two shifts to operate from.

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The minister wants more such complexes to come up in tier-II and tier-III cities, so that start-ups do not have to worry about office space. “I will write to all the MPs in districts where people are approaching their MPs asking if they can have some space and where there is a demand of start-ups," she said at the launch of a Startup India Hub portal. The minister says as this idea is part of the prime minister's Startup India project, it would find many takers.  

Coupled with a significant proportion of young freelance professionals, the co-working spaces sector would see more than 50 per cent growth in the year 2017, according to IndiQube, a  workspace solutions provider. It also predicts that the demand for new office space in the country would reach 40 million sq ft by the end of the year.

According to realty entity Cushman & Wakefield (C&W), to tap into the growing demand for offices, several global and Indian co-working entities are creating stock in the top cities. Bengaluru, the Delhi region and Mumbai see the highest concentration of co-working centres; Hyderabad, Chennai and Pune are also seeing some activity.

“Co-working spaces are becoming important, given that start-ups are mushrooming across sectors and businesses as India’s millennial workforce increases in size and becomes increasingly entrepreneurial," says Anshul Jain, managing director in India for C&W.

The government plans, said Sitharaman, to organise a meet of start-ups from the South Asian region for exchange of ideas and promoting of interaction. She sought the views of Indian start-ups in this regard, saying the event could be a platform for beneficial exchange.

“I will be working towards having a Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) country meet for start-ups. There are so many complementarities among us in the region," she said.

If the ministry could get feedback and suggestions in the next couple of months, the meet could happen by December, she said.

The ministry is also planning to work in certain districts, identify schools and help them qualify to get laboratories under the Atal Innovation Mission. She added the ministry was working on ways to facilitate exchange of ideas between start-ups here and in Germany.

As for the Startup India Hub, launched by the department of industrial promotion and policy, the aim is to help such entities get easier access to funding, lessen their tax burden and provide the right infrastructure, among other things.

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