Smart City Kochi rises again

Last week Kochi played host to a scintillating ceremony to lay the foundation stone for what has been billed as one of India’s largest knowledge-based industry townships.

Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and Fareed Abdurrahman, Executive Director, Dubai’s Tecom Investments, were in a decidedly upbeat mood as they announced grand plans for the SmartCity Kochi project promoted by Dubai’s SmartCity, the joint-venture company formed by Tecom Investments and Sama Dubai, both members of Dubai Holding.

Lauding it as a fine example of public-private participation, the Chief Minister said the SmartCity project aims to become a “township for knowledge-based companies.” The project will be based on the successful business models of Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City and Dubai Knowledge Village.

With an estimated investment of $350 million, the project aims to create 8.8 million square feet of built-up space with necessary infrastructure, environment and support systems, which will be offered to knowledge-based companies. It will also offer a host of business support services as well as residential, hospitality and recreational facilities.

‘Hub’ of excellence

Fareed Abdul Rahman, a senior executive of the TECOM Investments, was quoted in The Hindu as saying that the Kochi project was the second SmartCity, the other being SmartCity Malta.

“We envisage SmartCity Kochi to be a significant hub of excellence for knowledge-based industries. At an early stage, we had identified Kochi as a location with significant potential to become a knowledge-based industry hub,” he was quoted in the paper.

Expected to offer world-class infrastructure, environment and support systems, SmartCity Kochi will be a cardinal building block for the State’s knowledge-based industry growth and is anticipated to create 90,000 jobs when completed. The Kerala Government has transferred 246 acres of land to SmartCity Kochi as part of the agreement.

“After we signed the agreement for this project in May, we have had a large number of enquiries to build similar projects across the State. We will go ahead with similar projects in every district in the State,” the Chief Minister announced at the inaugural ceremony.

Whether these are mere pipe dreams and whether the 90,000 jobs promised will actually materialise is far from clear.

Yet, in the current flush of excitement in Kochi, the State’s commercial capital, no one seems really bothered.

Cluster history

Around the world, parks have helped usher in mini-industrial revolutions, ever since Alfred Marshall, an economist at the University of Cambridge, US, and the father of research parks, first suggested the idea of synergistic industries clustering together to enjoy economies of scale. He imagined a scenario where academic research and business acumen merged to create new companies, jobs and wealth.

The first such park, still regarded the mother of all technology parks, is the Stanford Research Park at Stanford University, in northern California, built in 1951.

It gave birth to some of the world’s most famous tech companies - from Hewlett-Packard to Yahoo! to Cisco Systems, not to mention hundreds of small startups across the US.

The International Association of Science Parks (IASP) officially defines a park as “an organisation managed by specialised professionals whose main aim is to increase the wealth of its community by promoting the culture of innovation and the competitiveness of its associated businesses and knowledge-based institutions.”

A park, it says, should stimulate and manage “the flow of knowledge and technology among universities, R&D institutions, companies and markets.”

Moreover, it should use incubation and spin-off processes to facilitate the creation and growth of innovative companies. Finally, the IASP says, a park should provide value-added services, and high-quality space and facilities.

The challenge

That remains the challenge for Kochi’s SmartCity. One key element in the success of parks is their ability to meet their client companies’ needs by providing the right mix of services and facilities, co-operation and networking.

One analyst says that good science parks do by design what occurred organically in California’s Silicon Valley.

How SmartCity Kochi designs its future will thus be crucial. Rather than be overly biased towards software and Internet firms, today’s successful parks focus on companies working in such cutting-edge areas as biotechnology, nanotechnology (and materials science), wireless communications, environmental technology and high-end graphics, animation and computer gaming media.

Will SmartCity Kochi be able to lure some of them to set up shop in Kerala?

Source: Sify

Kochi, best Indian city to live in: survey

Kochi has emerged as the most liveable city in India followed by Kozhikode, according to a study by the New Delhi-based economics research and data analysis firm Indicus Analytics.

Shimla stood third followed by Thiruvananthapuram, Mysore, Goa, Thrissur and Puthucherry, says its survey, the Housing Skylines of India 2007-08.

Interestingly, four out of the ten best places to live in are in Kerala and eight are in the southern states.

The survey that provides information on households across different income groups, family structure, ownership and growth of the sector ranks the Indian cities on three indices — to reside in, invest in and earn in.

Silvassa, the capital of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Coimbatore and Ludhiana are the best cities to invest in while Gurgaon, Silvassa and Noida offer maximum earnings. An extra demand for 9mn households are expected by 2015 in the emerging Indian cities.

Over 600,000 millionaires are concentrated in just ten cities of the country, with the national capital accounting for maximum number of them, the survey says.

New Delhi has the largest number of millionaire households in the country (138,000) followed by Bangalore (104,000) while Chandigarh has the maximum density of millionaires earning more than Rs100,000 a year followed by Silvassa and Rupnagar in Punjab.

Thane, Pune, Surat, Ahemdabad and Jaipur also figure among the top ten cities in terms of number of millionaire families. Interestingly, most of the metros are not on top of the list. Chennai ranked ninth, Hyderabad 12th and Kolkata 26th.

In Kerala, the booming port city of Kochi and the state capital Thiruvananthapuram are witnessing heavy demand in the housing sector triggered by software and hospitality industries.
“Within the next two years, 65,000 more IT jobs are expected to be created in Kerala at the existing facilities. Added to this is the Smart City which is expected to create 10,000 jobs every year for the next ten years. There is going to be huge demand-supply gap,” Kerala Builders Forum president George E George said.

According to KBF estimates, 12,200 housing units are under construction in these two cities which are expected to be completed in 2008-2009. All realty majors, including Puravankara, DLF Infra, HDIL and Sobha are already here offering high-end housing units.

“It’s going to be a housing explosion in Kerala. The sector has so far been investor-driven but that scenario is going to change with heavy investments coming in the knowledge-based industries. The growing demand for living space in these two cities would also push up rentals by 30 to 40%, fuelling the investor appetite,” George said.

Meanwhile, eminent jurist V R Krishna Iyer, who heads the state’s law reforms commission, recommended strong measures to control land prices in the state.

“The land hat used to be available for Rs10,000 a cent in Kochi now fetches Rs10mn because of the land mafia. People cannot afford to live here. Strict regulations should be enforced to end the speculative buying,” he told reporters in Kochi.


Big IT projects may help State catch up with front runners

Its software exports are dwarfed by strides made by neighbouring States

‘Software exports expected to touch Rs.1,200 crore this year’

Kochi accounted for only a quarter of the State’s software exports during 2006-07

Even as the information technology (IT) sector in Kerala is expected to cross a milestone this year, when software exports surpass the anticipated Rs.1,000-crore mark, it is looking to mega projects, such as the Smart City, for which the foundation stone was laid here on Friday, to catapult the State into the league of front runners in the country’s software and services export arena.

The State’s software exports during 2006-07 totalled Rs.750 crore and this year (2007-08), the figure is expected to touch Rs.1,200 crore, said Ramesh Kumar, Director, Software Technology Parks of India, Thiruvananthapuram.

The exports increased by 66 per cent during 2006-07 from the Rs.452 crore of the previous year.

When seen in a broader regional perspective, these figures are dwarfed by the huge strides that the neighbouring States in the south have been making on this front, say industry observers. But Kerala compares favourably with these States when it comes to the growth rate and has outstripped by a wide margin the 32 per cent growth in exports recorded at the national level during the year.

And the further development of the Kerala IT sector will be of a different order from what has been witnessed so far, given that several big projects are being planned or are in the process of being implemented in various parts of the State. Kerala has so far never seen so many IT projects in the making at one time in both the public and private sectors.

Kochi will also eventually emerge as a major player, though it accounted for only a quarter of the State’s software exports during 2006-07. Units in Kochi, excluding those in the Cochin Special Economic Zone, accounted for only Rs.186 crore of the total exports of Rs.750 crore. And Technopolis, the IT Park located in the zone, was able to garner exports totalling Rs.17.45 crore, said Thomas George Muthoot, managing director of the Muthoot Pappachan group and Technopolis.

The export figures had already gone up to Rs.30.91 crore till October this year as more units had become functional at the park.

While the ground has been cleared for the execution of the Smart City project, Wipro, IBS and TCS are among the companies strengthening their presence in Kochi’s Infopark, even as L&T and the Leela group are substantially adding to its infrastructure in terms of built-up space.

Several other big projects, such as Technocity planned in Thiruvananthapuram, are in the pipeline. Private players such as the Muthoot and Leela groups have come up with their projects on the IT front, apart from Sobha Developers, which is to build a high-tech city in Kochi. That several companies have either ramped up their operations in the State or are setting up dedicated campuses in Infopark and Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram will help in pushing up software exports in the near term. Companies such as IBS, NeST, Case Consultants, Tata Elxsi, TCS and Infosys figure among such companies in Technopark, which is in an expansion mode.

Among the districts, Thiruvananthapuram continues to account for a major chunk of software exports from the State. The units in Thiruvananthapuram accounted for a whopping Rs.557.8 crore of the total exports of Rs.750 crore. And Technopark continues to retain its pride of place as the IT park which has contributed the most, with its units having earned Rs.520 crore by way of exports.

However, in terms of export volumes, Kerala has a long way to go to catch up with its southern neighbours. Karnataka, the State that leads the IT race in the country, notched up exports totalling Rs.48,700 crore during 2006-07, while Tamil Nadu earned export revenues amounting to Rs.20,702 crore. Andhra Pradesh had exports of Rs.18,582 crores compared to Rs.12,521 crores the previous year.

Kerala will look forward to big projects such as Smart City to help it achieve the quantum leap required on the IT front in the long run to place it on an even footing with some of its southern neighbours.

Source:The Hindu

Kerala and Dubai formally launch Smart City Kochi project

Kerala yesterday logged on to the world IT map by joining hands with Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority (TECOM) to set up SmartCity in the state’s commercial capital.

The foundation stone for the $ 350 million industry township for the knowledge-based industries was laid jointly by State Chief Minister V S Achutanandan and SmartCity Executive Director Fareed Abdulrahman near Infopark here in the afternoon.

TECOM executive chairman Ahmed Bin Byat, who was to unveil the foundation stone, could not make it owing to ‘reasons beyond his control’. His message, read out by Abdulrahman, said that the project would be able to tap Cochin’s tremendous potential for growth.

“We envisage SmartCity Cochin to be a significant hub of excellence for knowledge-based industries. It has some of the key factors required for knowledge-based growth. The state has a vast pool of talent and the government is committed to knowledge-based development,” he added.

Byat said that the Smart City would open several new opportunities and avenues of growth in this industry, particularly the IT and ITES sectors. It would play a key role in SmartCity’s own global plans.

He said that TECOM’s objective was to create a global network of self-sustained industry townships for the knowledge-based industry. “SmartCity Cochin will be a significant part in the network of knowledge-based industry townships we are seeking to develop across the world”.

Byat said that TECOM would be working closely with the Kerala government and the industry in the state to develop SmartCity into a rich and vibrant knowledge-based industry community. “We will be designing the project to create an inspiring, productive environment where knowledge workers can exchange ideas, share knowledge and explore partnerships.”

Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister said that the government would take immediate steps to solve the traffic problems plaguing the city by developing road and water transport networks.

He said that the project had encouraged many private investors to invest in the IT sector.

Kochi ready for Smart City inauguration

Image & Video coutesy - Manorma News
  • 10,000 people expected to attend the function

  • Security tightened at the venue

  • Marketing Director of Tecom to supervise arrangements

“Network of opportunities” – reads a signboard put up on the way leading to the site of the Smart City project.

That pretty much sums up the excitement surrounding the project.

As the day for the stone-laying function of the Smart City project is closing in, preparations have gathered momentum.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and Tecom Executive Chairman Ahmad Bin Byat will jointly lay the stone at 11 a.m. on Friday.

The stone-laying function is expected to last about 45 minutes.

A huge pandal and a temporary bridge across Edachira Canal connecting the venue are in the final stages of completion.

A science and IT-related show by Tecom would add charm to the occasion. About 10,000 people are expected to attend the function.

Jazia Mohammed, Marketing Director of Tecom, promoters of the project, reached the city on Tuesday for direct supervision of the preparations.

Tecom has fully taken over the arrangements being made on the venue, District Collector A.P.M. Mohammed Hanish said. Project Director Baju George is expected to reach the city on Tuesday night, he said.

Security has been tightened at the venue in view of the high profile function to be attended by many dignitaries.

A large contingent of police force has been deployed at the venue and surrounding areas, the Collector said.

The district authorities have started sending invitations for the function. “We are inviting people from all of walks of life from across the district. The people to be rehabilitated for the project are also among the invitees,” he said.

Source:The Hindu

Also See

Smart City Kochi foundation to be laid on November 16

The foundation stone for the Rs15bn ($381mn) Smart City project to be built by the Dubai Internet City (DIC) will be laid on November 16, an official said yesterday.

Joseph C Mathew, IT adviser to Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan said that a high-level delegation from Dubai will attend the ceremony.

“DIC officials are now working on the master plan of the project. It would take almost a year for the work to commence on the buildings. First, they will have to build two bridges and then two years from now, the first phase of the project will be ready,” Mathew said.

The project has come under a cloud since former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy last Monday asked the state government to come clean on the changes made in the deal.

Rubbishing the charges made by Chandy, Achuthanandan on Friday said the opposition is raking up issues unnecessarily. “Our agreement with the DIC is much better than what they made,” he said.
Chandy, who began discussions with the DIC more than three years ago, said he would not be able to attend the foundation-laying ceremony as he would be in Delhi for the All India Congress Committee meeting.

“I am handing over a letter to Achuthanandan asking him to explain why he has made many changes after the project was cleared by the cabinet. The government order to this effect indicates that the changes were made because the DIC was insisting on it. The people of Kerala wish to know why these changes were made. It is detrimental to the interests of the state,” said Chandy. – IANS


Smart City Malta Model

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Smart City Malta Renderings
Smart City Malta Renderings
Smart City Malta Renderings
Smart City Malta Renderings
Smart City Malta Renderings

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$385-m Dubai-Tecom Smartcity Kochi work will start on Nov 13, 2007

Land ready, Dubai Tecom’s Smartcity project in Kochi will start civil work from November 13. Kerala chief minister VS Achuthanandan is expected to chair the proposed 10-member board of directors, who divulged the work-schedule. The foundation stone of the project, counted on to whip up 90,000 direct jobs, will be laid on November 13. It was on May 2007 that the MoU for the Smartcity project at Kochi was signed between TECOM and Kerala government.

The SmartCity