The Infopark in Kochi will complete its five years of existence on November 1. The IT park, established on November 1, 2003, will celebrate the occasion with a week-long programme from November 1 to 7.

The Infopark was started with four companies and less than 50 employees on 80 acres of land taken over from the KINFRA Export Promotional Industrial Park.

At present, the Infopark has 50 IT companies, including those from the US, Europe and Australia and 8,000 IT professionals. Its present turnover is Rs 500 crore. It was Rs 66 crore in 2004- 05. The Infopark also possesses 106 acres of land.

State Information Technology Secretary Ajay Kumar, who is also the chairman of the Infopark, told to this website's newspaper on Thursday that the Infopark could achieve 85 percent software export growth in the previous fiscal while at the national level only 25 percent growth was registered.

"The Infopark could also attract various IT firms like the Smart City, the TCS, Wipro and the Larsen and Turbo to Kochi. Kochi is a fast growing city and the Infopark can achieve a lot in the IT field in Kerala," he said.

"We are proud that we could complete preparations for starting three Infoparks in Cherthala, Ambalappuzha and Koratti which will be a milestone in the history of Infopark, Kochi. All these parks will be operational within three years," said Infopark Chief Executive Officer Siddarth Bhattacharya.

Infopark senior business development manager Nisanth Kumar said that at the time of its launch the Infopark had only 1-lakh sq ft building - Thapasya.

Currently, the Infopark has 22-lakh sq ft building and the construction for another 22-lakh sq ft is in progress, he said.

It was in July 2004 that the Wipro, one of the leading firms in the Infopark, started its operation in Kochi.

The Larsen and Toubro started its operation in 2005.

Infopark senior technical advisor K Kurien said that as part of our celebrations, we are going to launch new projects like health club, monthly journal, shopping complex, club-house and guest house on the campus.

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SmartCity Launches Connect Magazine

SmartCity, a joint venture between TECOM Investments and Sama Dubai, is set to launch a magazine, Connect, to increase the interface between the knowledge-based industry and SmartCity stakeholders.

The magazine will be launched at the forthcoming GITEX, the technology exhibition featuring Information Technology players in Dubai.

It forms part of SmartCity’s strategic move to augment its marketing activities to attract international, regional and local businesses to its strategically located destinations such as SmartCity Malta, SmartCity Kochi and TECOM Business Parks in Dubai.

“We are very excited about the introduction of Connect – which aims to provide cutting edge insights from today’s thought leaders and promoting industry excellence. Connect is in line with SmartCity’s vision to create a global network of self-sustained business townships to foster the knowledge economy by Connecting SmartCity locations,” Fareed Abdulrahman, the chief executive officer of SmartCity, said in a statement issued from Dubai announcing the launch.

He said the first edition of the magazine would feature insights and opinions from Symantec and the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Communication in Malta, along with many other key individuals within the knowledge-economy industry.

The magazine targets CEOs, CFOs and key decision-makers in IT, media, and the knowledge economy. It would cover a wide-range of topics including business and technology trends, interviews and opinion articles from influential people.

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SmartCity promotes Kochi and Malta at GITEX 2008

At GITEX 2008, SmartCity, a joint venture between TECOM and Sama Dubai, both members of Dubai Holding, is presenting landmark status updates of its current projects in Kochi and Malta.

SmartCity is actively marketing the development of knowledge based communities, like SmartCity Malta and SmartCity Kochi, to senior CIOs, knowledge workers and IT professionals from some of the Middle East’s most dynamic business and government organisations, as well as developers from the world’s leading IT companies.

Held in Dubai, GITEX TECHNOLOGY WEEK 2008 builds upon the global interest in the Middle East’s ICT landscape by presenting a power-packed week of dedicated trade segments, which includes GITEX Business Solutions, GULFCOMMS and Consumer Electronics. Focusing on the region’s fastest growing sectors – these three distinct, yet closely related segments, deliver focused forums for key buyers and decision-makers from across the region.

On Tuesday 21st October, Claudio Grech, SmartCity Malta CEO, will be delivering a presentation to a series of potential regional operators, explaining how SmartCity Malta is set to become the European ICT and Media destination offering unparalleled services to its partners in the first knowledge-based township in the region.

Commenting on the developments, Fareed Abdulrahman, SmartCity CEO said: “SmartCity Malta and SmartCity Kochi are the first two nodes in a top-tier global network of excellence townships. In the next few years, both of these SmartCity entities will open up a world of opportunities not only for the people of Malta and Kerala, who will benefit from new jobs, but also for the knowledge-based industry that will now have access new markets, talent pools and business partners. This will create prosperous and educated societies underpinned by long-term and extensive networks of life and work opportunities.”

SmartCity aims to create a global network of self-sustained business townships to foster knowledge-based businesses in strategically located destinations worldwide. These townships will harness commerce by providing an environment conducive to business, intelligent infrastructure and advanced support systems. SmartCity entities worldwide, will be home to a vibrant knowledge economy anchored by international, regional and local companies. The SmartCity strategy is based on the successful models of Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City and Dubai Knowledge Village.
SmartCity Malta, developed in partnership with the Government of Malta, has just received permits to begin construction from the Malta Environment and Planning authority (MEPA) and is set to become the leading ICT and media cluster in the heart of the Mediterranean. It will also be the first European outpost of the SmartCity global network. On completion, which is expected to be in 2021, SmartCity Malta will offer a combination of ICT and media office space, hotels, a conference centre, retail, food and beverage outlets, residential units and open public spaces. The USD300 million knowledge based township, which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea, is the largest foreign investment in Malta and is expected to create 5,600 jobs.

SmartCity Kochi is a joint venture between SmartCity and the Government of Kerala, on a site of 246 acres in the rapidly expanding Southern Indian state of Kerala. SmartCity Kochi is currently undergoing the necessary procedures to obtain the SEZ notification from the Authorities. Construction will commence when full approvals are received. SmartCity Kochi will eventually become a regional destination for knowledge-based industries in Kerala. SmartCity Kochi will also host a number of business support services as well as residential, hospitality, retail and recreational facilities. The project has an employment generation potential of 90,000 jobs.

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The South Indian state of Kerala is encouraging UAE investors to set up special economic zones and technology parks.

The state is talking to several leading UAE investors including the SS Lootah Group, non-resident Indian groups and Emaar MGF.

SmartCity Kochi, a joint venture between the Government of Kerala and Dubai's Tecom, is an Rs17 billion (Dh1.28bn) project to develop 8.8 million sq ft of built-up space. Other UAE investors are keen to participate in IT projects in Kerala, a senior government official told Emirates Business.

Dr Ajay Kumar, Secretary, Information Technology, Government of Kerala said: "We are currently negotiating with leading business groups from the UAE like SS Lootah and NRI bodies for joint IT projects in the state. We are offering several key projects with special economic status to UAE investors including a 450-acre technology project in Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital.

He said Emaar MGF, the Indian subsidiary of UAE-based Emaar, is also negotiating for an IT special economic zone in Kerala.

Dr Ajay said the Kerala Government was also considering a plan to encourage small and medium-sized NRI groups from the Gulf region to set up IT parks in rural and semi-urban centres throughout the state.

"The UAE-based SS Lootah Group is keen to have a major presence in Kerala's IT sector and we are not feeling depressed about the current slowdown in the US and European markets, the main source of business for IT outsourcing firms," he added.

Projects includes a 25-acre site in Kollam with special economic zone status. Investors would have to use 70 per cent of the area for industrial operations and 30 per cent for commercial developments such as convention centres, recreational facilities and socio-economic infrastructure.

The expected investment for one project is Rs300 crores. In Cherthala, six five-acre units are available and the investment sought is Rs50 crores per project. In the same city there are plans for a technocity – an integrated IT township – covering 60 acres. An 80-acre technocity project in the same city needs hotels, convention centres and recreational facilities worth Rs800 crores.

N Radhakrishnan Nair, CEO of Technopark Thiruvananthapuram, said the centre was undergoing major expansion involving the addition of a further 92-acre section and a 450-acre technocity. He said the Taj Group has commissioned a business class hotel inside the Technopark.

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Smart City Kochi project director

Smart City Kochi has decided not to renew its contract with Baju George, project director and acting company secretary. Mr. George’s contract with the company ended on September 30. Sources in the Smart City said, “His contract ended in September and he decided to move on.” “Currently, Chief Executive Officer Fareed Abdulrahman and Business Development Officer Mithun Beeru are the designated Smart City Kochi officials interacting with the government. When a new project director is appointed, his job would be to develop the project rather than to interact with the authorities,” said sources.

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SmartCity Kochi work awaits notification

Fisheries and Registration Minister S. Sarma has said that the date for launching the work on Smart City can be fixed only after the 136 acres of the project land receives Special Economic Zone (SEZ) notification from the Union government.

The statement dashed the hope that Monday’s director board meeting of the prestigious project would come up with a definite date.

Addressing presspersons after the board meeting, Mr. Sarma, who is the chairman of the project, made it clear that no tentative date had been fixed.

Asked how much time it would take to get the work started, he said that it depended on the time taken to receive the notification from the Union government.

The Board of Approval for SEZs of the Union government had granted approval in principle to 136 acres out of the 246 acres of project land identified at Edachira, near here, in March.

However, the SEZ status gets formally conferred only after the board issues the notification.

Mr. Sarma said the SEZ Commissioner and other officials would visit the project area as part of efforts to issue the notification.

He, however, said the visit would take place only after a settlement was reached on a case filed by a person in the Kerala High Court against displacement.

This, he said, will take a couple of weeks.

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New SEZ policy not applicable to Smart City Kochi: Kerala CM

New SEZ policy not applicable to Smart City Kochi: Kerala CM
Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan today said the new Special Economic Zones (SEZs) policy, formulated by the state government with certain norms and regulations, would not be applicable to the Smart City Project in Kochi.

Replying to questions after weekly-cabinet briefing, VS said ''the new policy will not be applicable to the Smart City and other projects like Techno park, set up by the Government.''

Achuthanandan said since the Smart City and other similar projects were established with the initiatives by the government at the government land and already entered an agreement with the government, the subsequent norms or policies would not be applicable to any of these projects.

The state government had come out with a policy, setting the norms and regulations for establishing SEZs in the state recently, since there was some confusion as to how the SEZ policy could affect the Smart City project, which was approved on the basis of different criteria with regard to utilisation of land area.

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The Rs.15 billion ($350 million) Smart City project, being worked jointly by the Kerala government and Dubai Internet City (DIC), aiming to put Kerala on the global IT map, will not come under the new special economic zone (SEZ) policies, said chairman of the project and state Fisheries Minister S.Sarma.The project would have 8.8 million square feet of built-up space, of which 70 percent would be for information technology and information technology enabled services and would employ 90,000 professionals.

Speaking to reporters here Wednesday, Sarma said the new SEZ guidelines will not be applicable for Smart City. Instead, the rules and guidelines laid down in the agreement between DIC and the state government will be followed.

“The different phases of the project would also be governed by the agreement,” said Sarma.

The minister’s statement comes at a time when early this week Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan cleared 10 SEZ applications subject to 13 conditions put forward by the state government.

The conditions include: no agricultural land will be acquired for SEZ; land will not be acquired for sanctioning SEZ in the private sector; no rebates will be allowed for electricity; Panchayati Raj rules will be applicable; tax holidays will be there only for 10 years; 70 percent of the land will have to be used for industrial purpose and the balance 30 percent for residential apartments; and no apartments can be sold to outside parties.

All labour laws prevailing in the state will also be applicable to these SEZs.

The project is spread over an area of 246 acres, of which 136 acres of land in the first phase of the project was granted SEZ clearance last year.

“The remaining will also be granted SEZ status at the opportune time,” said Sarma.

While much time has elapsed since the agreement to this project was inked in May last year and the foundation stone laid in November last year, the state government appears to be upset with Smart City officials for the delay in beginning construction work.

A overnment official said this issue would be taken up in the forthcoming board meeting of Smart City, slated to take place later this month.

Media reports indicate that the DIC officials are busy with another Smart City project at Malta and that has upset the state government here.

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The SmartCity

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