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Viridian Group joins hands with UK’s Entrepreneur Spark to launch 10 startup acceleration centres

Espark-Viridian_logoAhmedabad-based Viridian Group, which has interests in real estate and financial services, has tied up with Scotland’s Entrepreneurial Spark to launch an accelerator programme for emerging startups in India.

Christened ‘Espark-Viridian‘, the programme would largely focus on technology intensive enterprise startups and small scale manufacturing setups. It has shortlisted 23 startups for this programme which will have a corpus of $300 million, said Murali Hariharan, global head (venture strategy) at Viridian.

The company did not share further details on how it would source and deploy the money.

The programme would focus on setting up infrastructure, hiring people and organising events for the startup community, added Hariharan.

“Despite a high rating on innovation and entrepreneurship, India still attracts barely 4 per cent of the VC funding in the world, because of some strategic gaps- in skills, scaling and business development models that entrepreneurs follow. The ESpark-Viridian JV model focuses more on developing entrepreneurs and enabling their success,” said Hariharan.

It plans to launch ten centres across the country starting with Ahmedabad, Delhi and Noida. Eventually, the programme will be extended to Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Cochin, Chennai, Chandigarh and Kolkata. In each of these centres, the accelerator targets to have 50 to 60 startups over a period of time.

While Espark-Viridian would not charge the startups any fee, it may pick up equity shares in them on a case-by-case basis.

Founded in Glasgow, Entrepreneurial Spark is said to be the world’s largest free business accelerator offering business support to startup companies. It has on boarded about 350 companies in the UK.

“We build people who build businesses, and that has a huge positive knock-on effect in terms of innovation, job creation and economic growth. We have chosen India as our first overseas expansion because of the huge potential here for entrepreneurship to make a difference,” said Jum Duffy, founder and CEO, Entrepreneurial Spark.

The selected startups will work with a team of global business enablers, external mentors and different sector experts on all aspects of starting and running companies. In addition to office space, they will get access to targeted events, networking sessions and pitching sessions with investors.

The venture will also facilitate access to seed capital and subsequent funding rounds.

In the last few years, India’s startup ecosystem has seen growing involvement of accelerators and incubators.

Last week, Hong Kong-based Jaarvis Labs Ltd launched an India-specific accelerator that will invest up to $50,000 (Rs 30,50,000) in startups that offer products and services related to Internet of Things (IoT), online-to-offline e-commerce services, mobility and other emerging technology areas.

IAN Incubator, AngelPrime and iCreate are among the other prominent incubators in the country.

Viridian Group also has offices in Singapore, Mumbai and New Delhi. The group has expertise in fund management, real estate development, financial services and venture capital segments. Group company Viridian Ventures provides entrepreneurship development services such as incubation, acceleration, mentorship, infrastructure support, catalysing capital, investor relations, exit support and others.

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