• Kerala Tourism wins World Travel Mart Award for exemplary activities during COVID-19

    In a massive affirmation of its exemplary activities aimed at promoting Responsible Tourism during the challenging times of COVID-19 pandemic, Kerala Tourism has been bestowed the  coveted ‘Highly Commended’ Award by World Travel Mart London. 

     Kerala’s Responsible Tourism (RT) Mission received this recognition in the category of ‘Meaningful Connections’. 

    The RT Mission received the award for its innovative work on ‘Wok at Home Videos’ and storytelling audio and video series produced and presented by various Mission units in the state during the pandemic that has posed multiple challenges to the tourism sector. 

    The Work at Home Videos have been developed by RT Mission entrepreneurs with a message to stay home safely during the lockdown but not to despair and to adopt measures to effectively prevent the spread of the COVID-19. The videos also make an impassioned appeal to the tourists visiting Kerala to see their activities as soon as the pandemic-triggered issues are brought under control. 

    “The award proves that the RT Mission is becoming a driving force in sharing innovative ideas and ensuring public participation in the tourism sector,” said Tourism Minister Shri Kadakampally Surendran. 

    Tourism Secretary Smt. Rani George said the Mission has played a significant role in the tourism sector during the pandemic. “This is a morale-boosting recognition that celebrates the best-in-class of global travel and tourism industry,” she added.

    Tourism Director Shri P. Bala Kiran congratulated all the RT Mission unit members in Kerala for this sterling achievement and sustaining tourism activities in the most adverse circumstances. 

    The RT Mission had instructed the members of various units to wash their hands with sanitizer or soap and start their work. They were presented as a video document to engage them during the lockdown period. Besides becoming a marketing tool, it also became an instant hit in national and international platforms. This was followed by storytelling audios about each area and its festivals, followed by the videos on various traditional musical instruments and other folk art forms. 
     
    State RT Mission Coordinator Shri K Rupeshkumar said the Mission received a total of 1,048 audios and videos, all of which were produced and edited by the unit members. These were viewed by thousands of people through various social media platforms. During the World Folklore Day, these videos were aired at the ‘Folkkathone’ programme for 90 minutes.

    “The uniqueness of this recognition is that the RT Mission units are proving that life-affirming activities need to be presented live without exaggeration to be evaluated and recognised by the world,” he added. 

    The award jury said it was the most popular intervention in the world to give confidence to entrepreneurs and tourists who are reeling from the epidemic. “The move sends a message that any crisis can be overcome by working with one mind,” it noted.

    This is the 5th International Award for the Responsible Tourism Mission since its formation in 2017. The Mission has also won three National Awards.

    There are currently 20,017 units operating in Kerala under the Mission with more than one lakh beneficiaries as part of its activities. The units under the mission earned revenue of Rs 35 crore in three years. One of its salient features is that 80 per cent of the total units are headed by women. The Mission, which also runs 140 experiential tour packages, has so far imparted training to 7,000 people. Also, 48 new tourism destinations have sprung up through the Mission's flagship projects Pepper and Model RT Village.

  • Kerala Fin Minister launches the UNDP-powered accelerator programme for social impact startups

     Kerala Finance Minister Dr T M Thomas Isaac has launched Green Innovation Fund, a six-month fund-linked accelerator programme for social impact startups, as a joint initiative of Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), HarithaKeralam Mission and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), India. 

    Along with the Finance Minister, Ms. Shoko Noda, the Country Representative of UNDP, India, was also present in the online launch event. She gave a special address on UNDP’s role in leveraging Innovations for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    Green Innovation Fund (GIF), seeks to support startups working Startups working on SDG goals (Climate change related) by giving them Grant and technical support. 

    In his address, Dr Isaac said, “There are a whole lot of areas which are waiting for some innovative interventions, especially in the high range belts, which are prone to larger and diverse vulnerabilities. GIF is an ambitious experimentation to leverage technology to bridge gaps which may be arduous through our traditional way of working.”  

    He mentioned how some municipalities in Kerala transformed into a more enterprising mode by embracing technology.
    GIF is a cohort-based fund-linked acceleration programme where startups will be selected based on the compatibility of their products with the identified problem statements from the high range landscapes.  It seeks to address some of the most pressing issues facing the vulnerable high range communities through innovation. 
    In her special address, Ms Shoko said: “By combining modern technology like artificial intelligence and drones with traditional wisdom of communities, we are working to improve management of natural resources, reduce negative impacts upon the environment and promote green jobs. The launch of the GIF as part of the India High Range Mountain Landscape project is a step in this direction.” 
    In her presidential address, Ms T N Seema, Vice Chairperson, HarithaKeralam Mission, said the outbreak of COVID-19 had made it very clear that our health, our society and our economy not could be separated from nature. 
    MrSasi PM, CEO, KSUM, said: “As climate change brings in exponential changes in the environment there is an urgent need to develop innovative products, services, businesses, organizational models which will bring in sustainable development through behavioural changes and new business models. There is a need to nurture and develop such ideas which could redefine sustainable enterprises in a structured manner.  
    The issues that the GIF will seek to address are recurring natural disaster, human-animal conflict, sustainable tourism, sustainable agriculture, waste management, water andenergy issues etc.  Startup selected for the programme are eligible for fund uptoRs7 lakh. The application window for the selection of startups to first Cohort of GIF will be live from November 8 to December 10. 
    The GIF is part of the GoI-GEF-UNDP India High Range Mountain Landscape project (IHRML). The IHRML Project is a small attempt towards mitigating the effects of climate change and other threats faced by the ecologically fragile landscape of Anchunad and adjoining areas through building an effective collaborative governance framework for multiple-use management. 
    With the able guidance and leadership of HarithaKeralam Mission and the Kerala State Forests and Wildlife Department at the state level, and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) at the national level, the project activities were kicked off in the 2019-20 Financial Year.
    A session to clarify doubts regarding the application process of GIF and problem statements listed will be held on November 12 at 4pm.  
    For more details, contact: k.accelerator@startupmission.in or dhanaj@startupmission.in. 
    KSUM is the nodal agency of the Kerala Government for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities in the state.

  • Kerala Tourism launches Miyawaki forest project in 22 spots

    In a major green initiative, Kerala Tourism has launched a project to create Miyawaki model micro forests at 22 tourism spots in 12 districts across the state.
    Inaugurating the project by planting a sapling at Shanghumukham Beach here last night, State Tourism Minister Shri Kadakampally Surendran said more than 30,000 saplings would be planted in about two acres of land identified for the scheme.
    Creation of micro forests that compare well with natural forests would make the tourist destinations in the state, especially those in urban areas, environment friendly, the Minister noted.
    Pioneered in 1970s by botanist and plant ecologist Dr Akira Miyawaki of Yokohama National University, Japan, the micro forestation model seeks to expand the green cover on the earth by nurturing mostly indigenous species of plants in small patches of land. A Miyawaki model forest can attain growth within five to ten years, whereas a natural forest takes 25 to 30 years to gain the same level of growth.
    The model has been replicated across continents, especially among communities where the pressure on land is heavy. It has proved effective in fending off ill-effects of environmental degradation and climate change by conserving biodiversity, saving plants from extinction, shielding communities from natural disasters and serving as a bulwark against atmospheric and noise pollution.
    Apart from foliage-rich trees that make tourism spots eco-friendly, saplings of medicinal and fruit-bearing plants as well as rare indigenous species are planted under the project.
    Shri V S Sivakumar MLA presided. Tourism Secretary Smt Rani George IAS, Director of Tourism Shri P Bala Kiran IAS, Shri K G Mohanlal, CMD Kerala Tourism Infrastructure Ltd (KTIL) and Prof V K Damodaran, Chairman, Nature’s Green Guardian Foundation, were present.
     

  • CM releases Coffee Table Book on Kerala capital with Raghu Rai’s pics

    Kerala Chief Minister Shri Pinarayi Vijayan today released a Coffee Table Book on Thiruvananthapuram with a collection of images by eminent photographer Raghu Rai for Kerala Tourism as part of the capital city heritage project.

    A stunning visual treat, Thiruvananthapuram-An Artist’s impression explores the city’s culture, heritage and life through a fascinating collection of shots viewed through the lens of Raghu Rai, coupled with graphic descriptions by writer Lekshmi Rajeev. 

    This is a fantastic work that has tapped fully the mesmerizing power of photography to capture the images of the city, the Chief Minister said while releasing the compendium through video-conference. 

    State Tourism Minister Shri Kadakampally Surendran, who presided over the function held at Mascot Hotel, said this outstanding work would add considerable strength to the capital city heritage project.  Dr Shashi Tharoor MP and Raghu Rai joined the ceremony online.

    City of festivals, it was an unforgettable experience to capture the images of Thiruvananthapuram with its vibrant life and culture, Rai said, adding he has plans to write a book on Kerala. 

    A visual statement on the city, the 190-page work encapsulates its history, culture and heritage. While most similar collections have their emphasis on nature, this work has its accent on human life in the city. 

    Apart from the capital city, the Tourism Department has been implementing heritage projects to protect and preserve historical and cultural assets of Alappuzha, Muziris and Thalassery, Tourism Secretary Smt Rani George IAS said. 

    Shri M Vijayakumar, Chairman KTDC, Tourism Director Shri P Bala Kiran IAS, Smt V K Karthika, Editor & Publisher Amazon Westland and Smt Lekshmi Rajeev attended the function.

  • Kerala opens beaches and parks for tourists, safety parameters enforced

    Kerala is opening its beaches, parks and museums for domestic tourists from November 1, marking resumption of tourism activities in full swing ahead of the annual tourism season, after remaining shut for eight months following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
    In the first phase, tourist destinations and services across the state were reopened on October 10, by strictly adhering to a comprehensive set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to ensure the safety of visitors.
    The services that started  receiving guests on October 10 included house boats on backwaters and personalized boating and adventure tourism spots, which  have controlled access and it is easy to implement the SMS (Social distancing, Mask and Soap Sanitizer) norms. Hill stations were also thrown open, signaling the revival of the revenue-generating industry.
    “Beaches of Kerala have always attracted visitors from all corners of the world on account of their unsurpassed beauty, warmth of waters and cleanliness. It is significant that we are re-opening our beaches, including globally famed sea-side destinations like Kovalam, when the annual tourist season is round the corner” State Tourism Minister Shri Kadakampally Surendran said.
    “The response in destinations and services that resumed operations early this month has been encouraging, with the footfall gradually increasing. The stake-holders have extended their total co-operation to see that all safety parameters are followed. The visitors are also complying with the guidelines issued by the State Government,” said Tourism Secretary Smt Rani George IAS.
    “As we re-open our beaches, Tourism Department officials on the ground are making extra efforts to ensure that the specific guidelines are followed to the last detail,” said Tourism Director Shri P Bala Kiran IAS.
    As part of safety parameters for beaches, which do not have controlled access, directions have been issued to ensure that officials are deployed at the entry points, walkways and open areas, equipped with thermal check, sanitizers and hand-wash facilities. Boards prominently featuring “Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ are being put up and walkways, hand-rails and shelters will be sprayed with sanitisers at regular intervals. 
    Tourism police personnel will be posted, if necessary, to help Kudumbashree volunteers and Life Guards. A register will be kept at the entry for recording details of visitors.
    For parks and museums, online ticket /SMS booking will be explored to the extent possible at the gated entries.  Vehicles will be allowed to be kept at the parking areas to maximum one hour. A register will be kept at all entry points for entering visitor’s name, native place, contact number and time and date of the visit. 
    Strict instructions have been issued for street vendors to follow COVID-19 protocols. Cleaning and fumigation of toilets and restrooms will be taken up at regular intervals. 
    As per the SOP issued by the Government earlier, the visitors to the state will have to follow Break the Chain norms including wearing of masks, use of soap and sanitizer and follow social distancing.
    Tourists coming for visits of less than seven days are exempted from quarantine but they should register in COVID Jagratha portal. If visitors plan to extend their stay for more than seven days, they have to undergo test at their cost on the 7th day at ICMR/ state government approved laboratories. The visitors are advised to avoid travel if they are symptomatic.
    Hospitality facilities, tour operators, tourism transport operators and other services such as hotels, resorts, house boats, ayurveda centres, homestays, service villas and adventure activity centres were instructed to strictly go by the SOPs.

  • Prof. Chandrabhas Narayana made Director of RGCB

    The Government of India has appointed Prof. Chandrabhas Narayana, currently Dean, (Research and Development) at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bengaluru, as the Director of Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB), the country’s leading molecular biology and biotech research and development institute.

    A highly accomplished scientist and inter-disciplinary research leader, Prof Narayana succeeds Prof M Radhakrishna Pillai, who retired as the RGCB’s  Director in August, after helming the Government of India’s facility for over 15 years. 

    The appointment, approved by the Appointments Committee of the Union Cabinet, is for a period of five years.

    Prof Narayana, who specializes in Raman Spectroscopy, has also served as Professor of Chemistry and Physics of Materials Unit and the Dean, Fellowships and Extension Programmes at JNCASR. He holds three international patents, a couple of which are on the verge of commercialization.

    An autonomous national institution of Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India, RGCB ‘s four major mandates include discovery research in disease biology, translational sciences, technology development and training and education.

    Born in Bengaluru to Keralite parents, Prof Narayana earned his PhD from the Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Science, after completion of his Bachelor’s and Master’s in science from Regional Institute of Education, Mysore.  Before joining as a faculty member at JNCASR, he did his Post Doctoral Research at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

    Though a trained condensed matter physicist, Prof Narayana developed a keen interest in Biology soon after joining JNCASR. Subsequently, his group pioneered in the use of Raman Spectroscopy in drug-protein interaction for drug screening applications and diagnostic applications.  His projects proved to be trendsetters in inter-disciplinary research. 

    Along with biology, he also kept his keen interest in physics and chemistry, and his has been one of the well-known groups in the country for use of Raman Spectroscopy in the areas of Physics, chemistry, and biology.

    He is coordinator for two major Synchrotron projects for India-- The Indian beamline at the Photon Factory, KEK, Tsukuba, Japan and the PETRA III, Hamburg, Germany.

    His Light Scattering Laboratory at JNCASR looks at Physical properties of Materials using Raman spectroscopy, Brillouin Spectroscopy, x-ray diffraction under high pressures and temperatures. The research encompasses Condense Matter, Chemistry, and Biology.  

    Prof Narayana has been the recipient of several coveted honours including the Material Research Society of India bronze medal, Sir C.V. Raman Young Scientist Award (Karnataka Government), C.N.R. Rao Oration award , Sheikh Saqr RAK-CAM Senior Fellow, MRSI-ICSC Super Conductivity and Materials Science Senior Award, Mizushima-Raman Lecture Award  and Platinum Jubilee Lecture Award of the Indian Science Congress. 

    Fellow of National Academy of Science, India, Royal Society of Chemistry and of Indian Academy of Sciences, Prof Narayana has published over 175 research papers in International Journals and four Chapters in Books and has an H-index of 35.  His publications include Nature, Cell Press journals, Advanced Functional Materials, Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (USA), Physical Review Letters, Angewandte Chemie, Chemistry and Biology, Physical Review B and Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.

    Prof Narayana has been visiting professor to leading institutions around the world. He also serves on the board of editors of International Journals including Journal of Applied Physics (American Institute of Physics), High-Pressure Research (Taylor and Francis Publishers), The Journal of Biomaterials and Nanobiotechnology.

    He is member of several governing and advisory bodies and board of studies of leading universities and higher education institutions in the country.  

  • KSUM women startup summit: Bioscan enters global round of She Loves Tech

    Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) concluded itspioneering six-day programmewith a ‘Women Startup Summit 2020’ that made a clarion call for launching businesses that can improve the living standards of common people.
    State IT Secretary MrMohammed Y Safirulla, while inaugurating the Saturday event, said new-age entrepreneurs should make greater use of modern technology that can resolve issues such as waste management and water shortage.
    The prize-winners at the summit should not lose time in hitting the market with their innovative gadgets, he told the 750 delegates at the event the KSUM organised in association with Startup India, TiE Kerala and Indian Women Network of Confederation of Indian Industry.
    Kerala State IT Mission Director DrChithra S announced the winners and felicitated the change-makers at the summit. KSUM-incubated Riafy Technologies of Kochi was declared the Best Inclusive Startup, while IIMK Live of Kozhikode became the Best Inclusive Incubator.Sahrdaya College of Engineering and Technology, Kodakara (Thrissur district) was chosen the Best Inclusive IEDC.
    Federal Bank Executive Director MsShaliniWarrier highlighted the importance of artificial intelligence (AI) in future technologies. AI has enabled her bank’s recruitment wing to bring down expenditure by 75 per cent, she added. 
    The most-awaited competition named ‘She Loves Tech India 2020’ saw close to 100 participants vying for honours with their women-friendly products. Bioscan Research Pvt Ltd qualified for the international level, while the runners-up were Spookfish Innovations, *** AI, Infinite Circle Inc and *** India Pvt Ltd. The event also announced the winners of Hackathon.
    At ‘She Loves Tech’, 12 entrepreneurs presented their products to invite potential investors. As many as 28 entrepreneurs got expert advice from KSUM’s Investor Café.
    The summit, which aims to boost female presence in entrepreneurial ventures, held sessions on the chances women get in launching technology startups and the challenges they face in the process.
    The speakers included She Loves Tech Co-founder Virginia Tan, Startup India Hub Chief Aastha Grover, Tech Ready Women Academy founder Christie Whitehill, India Angel Network Cofounder PadmajaRuparel, Pure Living founder Lakshmi Menon, Open Financial Technologies Co-founder Deena Jacob, media person RekhaMenon, Chemmanur Academy Director AnishaCherian, Cognizant AVP Maya Sreekumar, Amazon Strategic Initiative Head DeeptiDutt, AWE founder SeemaChaturvedi, Adobe Head of ProgrammesGarimaBabbar, Meena Accenture Interactive MD T J Lightwala and Sunrise Hospital MD ParveenHafeez.
    KSUM is the state government’s nodal agency for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities.

  • Odox opens unit in Cyberpark Kozhikode

    Cyberpark Kozhikode got another IT company functioning from this week when Odox Soft Hub LLP opened its office in the 45-acre campus.
    The company, which focuses on Odoo ERP Platform and CRM software Solutions across industries, has global clients, its directors Mr Sidheeq K, Mr Moosa P, Mr MuhammedNiyaz and Mr MuhammedShiyas, said after the inauguration on Monday.

    Mr. Harris PT, President and Mr. Abdul Gafoor, Secretary, CAFIT (Calicut Forum for Information Technology) besides MrNireesh C, General Manager of Cyberpark were present during the occasion.

    The company has nine employees. It will be recruiting another 15 employees in the coming days, they added.

    Odoo, as a software for business management, is an all-in-one solution for business needs.
    Last week, on October 19, Sapling Creations set up its office in Sahya Building of Cyberpark, where the Kerala government is making efforts topromote IT/ITeS in the northern part of the state.
    Earlier this month, Cyberparksaw the induction of UK-based computing and IT services company John and Smith Solutions LLP that works to provide real-time experience to students in the upstate universities of Kannur and Calicut.
    Since summer 2020, the 2009-founded Cyberparksaw the inclusion of four companies: Technaureus Info Solutions,D4 Security Solutions serving largely oil and gas industries in the Middle East, eRE Business Solutions that specialises in Saas and Techlogica IT DT Solutions with expertise in end-to-end ERP solutions for business evolution and growth initiatives.

  • Three Startups from Kerala win National Startup Awards

    Three startups from Kerala made it to the list of winners of the first edition of National Startup Awards announced today in 32 categories across 12 sectors.
     NAVA Design & Innovation and Genrobotics Innovations, which were incubated by the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), were among the awardees along with God’s Own Food Solutions, also from the state.
     Minister of Railways and Commerce & Industry Mr Piyush Goyal declared the results at a virtual felicitation ceremony in Delhi on Tuesday evening. Conceived by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), the awards are in recognition of outstanding startups and ecosystem enablers that are building innovative products or solutions.
     KSUM said the honours won by the Kerala startups proved the efficacy of the state government’s support to nascent companies showing promise. “The awards have come for their commitment to solve social issues,” KSUM Chief Executive Officer Mr Sasi P M noted. “Such recognitions will inspire more startups to toe similar lines in the future.”
     NAVA won the award in recognition of its solar-powered device for toddy extraction. Capable of improving the efficiency of toddy-tapping by 72 times, the device facilitates cutting, beating and collection of the beverage. Its use cuts the number of climbing the palm to a mere three from what is manually 270 over a three-month period. The machine has earned NAVA patent rights in 28 countries where it is being used.
     Genrobotics earned recognition for its product named Bandicoot, billed as the world’s first robotic scavenger that cleans manholes and helps stamp out manual scavenging.The 50-kg pneumatic-powered and remote-controlled robot, which was developed in 2018 by fouryoung engineering graduates, can be sent down a manhole, where it would remove sewage by spreading its arm capable of 360-degree motion. Designedwith the help of Google launch pad, Bandicoot is easy to operate, equipped as it is with auser-friendly interface.
     The 2015-founded God’s Own Food Solutions won the award in the food-processing sector for its patented green flour product named jackfruit365, which the jury noticed has “streamlined the organized market for Indian Jackfruits”. Having created clinically-proven solutions to control diabetes and reduce chemotoxicity, the product had its test results showing a significant blood-sugar reduction in 996 out of 1,000 patients during 90 days.
     The awards were in the sectors of agriculture, education, enterprise technology, energy, finance, food, health, industry 4.0, space, security, tourism and urban services. They are also meant for scalable enterprises, with high potential of employment generation or wealth creation and those demonstrating measurable social impact, the Ministry said.

    KSUM is the nodal agency of the Kerala Government for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities in the state.

  • Kerala CM launches key projects to make investment process smooth

    Toll Free No, upgraded single-window portal and e-news letter to further enhance EoDB
    Seeking to further enhance the of Ease of Doing Business in Kerala, Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Pinarayi Vijayan today launched a dedicated Toll Free Call service, Investment Facilitation Centre and the updated version of the single-window clearance portal to make the investment processes fast, efficient, effective and transparent. The Chief Minister, through video conference, also unveiled the e-News Letter” Investor Konnect” of the Department of Industries and Commerce, strengthening the communication channel with leaders of industry and related fields. 
    These projects, launched as part of Invest Kerala 2020 campaign, come in tandem with a series of efforts by the Government that had simplified, rationalized and fast-tracked investment rules and procedures in the last four years. The launch of the new projects fulfils the commitment made by the Chief Minister before leading industrialists at the Global Investors Meet ASCEND 2020, held in Kochi in January this year.
    ‘’The interventions and initiatives of the State Government in the last four years have transformed Kerala into an ideal investment destination. Investors themselves have acknowledged this and the efforts of the government have yielded concrete results,” the Chief Minister said on the occasion.
    “Unfortunately, Kerala had for quite some time suffered from an impression that it was not an investor-friendly state, though that was not entirely based on the objective situation. But that has changed. Now the investors enjoy total confidence in Kerala,” the Chief Minister said.
    Noting that no industrialist in the state would now complain of disruptions by workers, the Chief Minister said whatever unhealthy practices that existed in isolated pockets had been resolved by taking the Trade Unions into confidence.  If such tendencies lurk their head again, the authorities should take stern action, he added.
    Asserting that Kerala offered the best investment ambience and opportunities in a wide range of sectors, Hon’ble Industries Minister Shri E P Jayarajan, who presided over the function, said manufacturing of health and medicinal products and devices was an area that would offer great scope in the post-pandemic period.
    Noting that the recent Ease of Doing Business ranking of states by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) recently was not based on a scientific assessment, Shri Jayarajan said the state government had written to the Centre about this.
    Dr K Ellangovan IAS, Principal Secretary (Industries), said the services being launched would make the investment process in the state more expeditious and hassle-free. 
    The Toll Free number--1800 890 1030—set up by the Department of Industries will provide all information on investment related queries. Linked to a Call Centre hired for the purpose, the facility will also provide handholding support and act as a channel for investor community to access information.
    The Service of the Call Centre, to be provided in Malayalam and English, will be available from 8AM to 8PM on all working days. The Call Centre will record the called contact details and the query, in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and the status of the queries resolved/ unresolved/ forwarded to line departments will be captured. The Call Centre will share the daily, weekly and monthly report to the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC).
    The dedicated Investment Facilitation Centre set up in KSIDC will receive, track and resolve all investment related issues. A one-point centre for all investment related matters, it will serve as the back office for the Single-Window Board and the proposed Investment Bureau. It will be managed by a mix of KSIDC staff and experts outsourced. 
    The upgraded version of Kerala Single Window Interface for Fast and Transparent Clearance portal (KSWIFT 2.0) will considerably reduce the strain of physical interaction by entrepreneurs for securing licenses and clearances. 
    Launched in 2019, K-SWIFT had on-board 16 departments and agencies in the system for issuing as many as 33 licenses, clearance and permits. Since entrepreneurs have been demanding that even the renewal of licenses be made available in the K-SWIFT platform, KSIDC and NIC had worked together and revised the system to include renewal of licenses in 16 Departments. This will allow existing industrial units to register in the portal and get the renewals for the licenses and permits issued through the corresponding line departments.

    The newsletter series Investor Konnect aims at strengthening the communication with leaders in various fields, investors, foreign consulates and embassies, trade bodies and other key stakeholders. It will provide the updates on events, changes in policies, new schemes, reforms and all other relevant information.
    It will carry forewords from the Chief Minister, Industries Minister, details about Invest Kerala digital platforms, recent events, investor success stories, achievements of the Department, know your rules, message from MD’s desk. 
    Investor Konnect will be mailed to more than 2000 select entrepreneurs in the state and outside, and made available on the Official websites of KSIDC, KINFRA and Department of Industries and Commerce. 
    Shri APM Mohammed Hanish IAS (Secretary Industries), Shri M G Rajamanickam IAS (MD, KSIDC), Shri V R Premkumar IAS (Director, DIC), Shri Santhosh Koshi Thomas, MD, KINFRA, and Shri Suraj S, CEO KBIP, were present.
    Representatives of industry and trade bodies CII, FICCI and KSSIA also attended the online meet.

Kerala Fin Minister launches the UNDP-powered accelerator programme for social impact startups

 Kerala Finance Minister Dr T M Thomas Isaac has launched Green Innovation Fund, a six-month fund-linked accelerator programme for social impact startups, as a joint initiative of Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), HarithaKeralam Mission and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), India. 

Along with the Finance Minister, Ms. Shoko Noda, the Country Representative of UNDP, India, was also present in the online launch event. She gave a special address on UNDP’s role in leveraging Innovations for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Green Innovation Fund (GIF), seeks to support startups working Startups working on SDG goals (Climate change related) by giving them Grant and technical support. 

In his address, Dr Isaac said, “There are a whole lot of areas which are waiting for some innovative interventions, especially in the high range belts, which are prone to larger and diverse vulnerabilities. GIF is an ambitious experimentation to leverage technology to bridge gaps which may be arduous through our traditional way of working.”  

He mentioned how some municipalities in Kerala transformed into a more enterprising mode by embracing technology.
GIF is a cohort-based fund-linked acceleration programme where startups will be selected based on the compatibility of their products with the identified problem statements from the high range landscapes.  It seeks to address some of the most pressing issues facing the vulnerable high range communities through innovation. 
In her special address, Ms Shoko said: “By combining modern technology like artificial intelligence and drones with traditional wisdom of communities, we are working to improve management of natural resources, reduce negative impacts upon the environment and promote green jobs. The launch of the GIF as part of the India High Range Mountain Landscape project is a step in this direction.” 
In her presidential address, Ms T N Seema, Vice Chairperson, HarithaKeralam Mission, said the outbreak of COVID-19 had made it very clear that our health, our society and our economy not could be separated from nature. 
MrSasi PM, CEO, KSUM, said: “As climate change brings in exponential changes in the environment there is an urgent need to develop innovative products, services, businesses, organizational models which will bring in sustainable development through behavioural changes and new business models. There is a need to nurture and develop such ideas which could redefine sustainable enterprises in a structured manner.  
The issues that the GIF will seek to address are recurring natural disaster, human-animal conflict, sustainable tourism, sustainable agriculture, waste management, water andenergy issues etc.  Startup selected for the programme are eligible for fund uptoRs7 lakh. The application window for the selection of startups to first Cohort of GIF will be live from November 8 to December 10. 
The GIF is part of the GoI-GEF-UNDP India High Range Mountain Landscape project (IHRML). The IHRML Project is a small attempt towards mitigating the effects of climate change and other threats faced by the ecologically fragile landscape of Anchunad and adjoining areas through building an effective collaborative governance framework for multiple-use management. 
With the able guidance and leadership of HarithaKeralam Mission and the Kerala State Forests and Wildlife Department at the state level, and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) at the national level, the project activities were kicked off in the 2019-20 Financial Year.
A session to clarify doubts regarding the application process of GIF and problem statements listed will be held on November 12 at 4pm.  
For more details, contact: k.accelerator@startupmission.in or dhanaj@startupmission.in. 
KSUM is the nodal agency of the Kerala Government for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities in the state.

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Kerala Tourism launches Miyawaki forest project in 22 spots

In a major green initiative, Kerala Tourism has launched a project to create Miyawaki model micro forests at 22 tourism spots in 12 districts across the state.
Inaugurating the project by planting a sapling at Shanghumukham Beach here last night, State Tourism Minister Shri Kadakampally Surendran said more than 30,000 saplings would be planted in about two acres of land identified for the scheme.
Creation of micro forests that compare well with natural forests would make the tourist destinations in the state, especially those in urban areas, environment friendly, the Minister noted.
Pioneered in 1970s by botanist and plant ecologist Dr Akira Miyawaki of Yokohama National University, Japan, the micro forestation model seeks to expand the green cover on the earth by nurturing mostly indigenous species of plants in small patches of land. A Miyawaki model forest can attain growth within five to ten years, whereas a natural forest takes 25 to 30 years to gain the same level of growth.
The model has been replicated across continents, especially among communities where the pressure on land is heavy. It has proved effective in fending off ill-effects of environmental degradation and climate change by conserving biodiversity, saving plants from extinction, shielding communities from natural disasters and serving as a bulwark against atmospheric and noise pollution.
Apart from foliage-rich trees that make tourism spots eco-friendly, saplings of medicinal and fruit-bearing plants as well as rare indigenous species are planted under the project.
Shri V S Sivakumar MLA presided. Tourism Secretary Smt Rani George IAS, Director of Tourism Shri P Bala Kiran IAS, Shri K G Mohanlal, CMD Kerala Tourism Infrastructure Ltd (KTIL) and Prof V K Damodaran, Chairman, Nature’s Green Guardian Foundation, were present.
 

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CM releases Coffee Table Book on Kerala capital with Raghu Rai’s pics

Kerala Chief Minister Shri Pinarayi Vijayan today released a Coffee Table Book on Thiruvananthapuram with a collection of images by eminent photographer Raghu Rai for Kerala Tourism as part of the capital city heritage project.

A stunning visual treat, Thiruvananthapuram-An Artist’s impression explores the city’s culture, heritage and life through a fascinating collection of shots viewed through the lens of Raghu Rai, coupled with graphic descriptions by writer Lekshmi Rajeev. 

This is a fantastic work that has tapped fully the mesmerizing power of photography to capture the images of the city, the Chief Minister said while releasing the compendium through video-conference. 

State Tourism Minister Shri Kadakampally Surendran, who presided over the function held at Mascot Hotel, said this outstanding work would add considerable strength to the capital city heritage project.  Dr Shashi Tharoor MP and Raghu Rai joined the ceremony online.

City of festivals, it was an unforgettable experience to capture the images of Thiruvananthapuram with its vibrant life and culture, Rai said, adding he has plans to write a book on Kerala. 

A visual statement on the city, the 190-page work encapsulates its history, culture and heritage. While most similar collections have their emphasis on nature, this work has its accent on human life in the city. 

Apart from the capital city, the Tourism Department has been implementing heritage projects to protect and preserve historical and cultural assets of Alappuzha, Muziris and Thalassery, Tourism Secretary Smt Rani George IAS said. 

Shri M Vijayakumar, Chairman KTDC, Tourism Director Shri P Bala Kiran IAS, Smt V K Karthika, Editor & Publisher Amazon Westland and Smt Lekshmi Rajeev attended the function.

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Kerala opens beaches and parks for tourists, safety parameters enforced

Kerala is opening its beaches, parks and museums for domestic tourists from November 1, marking resumption of tourism activities in full swing ahead of the annual tourism season, after remaining shut for eight months following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
In the first phase, tourist destinations and services across the state were reopened on October 10, by strictly adhering to a comprehensive set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to ensure the safety of visitors.
The services that started  receiving guests on October 10 included house boats on backwaters and personalized boating and adventure tourism spots, which  have controlled access and it is easy to implement the SMS (Social distancing, Mask and Soap Sanitizer) norms. Hill stations were also thrown open, signaling the revival of the revenue-generating industry.
“Beaches of Kerala have always attracted visitors from all corners of the world on account of their unsurpassed beauty, warmth of waters and cleanliness. It is significant that we are re-opening our beaches, including globally famed sea-side destinations like Kovalam, when the annual tourist season is round the corner” State Tourism Minister Shri Kadakampally Surendran said.
“The response in destinations and services that resumed operations early this month has been encouraging, with the footfall gradually increasing. The stake-holders have extended their total co-operation to see that all safety parameters are followed. The visitors are also complying with the guidelines issued by the State Government,” said Tourism Secretary Smt Rani George IAS.
“As we re-open our beaches, Tourism Department officials on the ground are making extra efforts to ensure that the specific guidelines are followed to the last detail,” said Tourism Director Shri P Bala Kiran IAS.
As part of safety parameters for beaches, which do not have controlled access, directions have been issued to ensure that officials are deployed at the entry points, walkways and open areas, equipped with thermal check, sanitizers and hand-wash facilities. Boards prominently featuring “Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ are being put up and walkways, hand-rails and shelters will be sprayed with sanitisers at regular intervals. 
Tourism police personnel will be posted, if necessary, to help Kudumbashree volunteers and Life Guards. A register will be kept at the entry for recording details of visitors.
For parks and museums, online ticket /SMS booking will be explored to the extent possible at the gated entries.  Vehicles will be allowed to be kept at the parking areas to maximum one hour. A register will be kept at all entry points for entering visitor’s name, native place, contact number and time and date of the visit. 
Strict instructions have been issued for street vendors to follow COVID-19 protocols. Cleaning and fumigation of toilets and restrooms will be taken up at regular intervals. 
As per the SOP issued by the Government earlier, the visitors to the state will have to follow Break the Chain norms including wearing of masks, use of soap and sanitizer and follow social distancing.
Tourists coming for visits of less than seven days are exempted from quarantine but they should register in COVID Jagratha portal. If visitors plan to extend their stay for more than seven days, they have to undergo test at their cost on the 7th day at ICMR/ state government approved laboratories. The visitors are advised to avoid travel if they are symptomatic.
Hospitality facilities, tour operators, tourism transport operators and other services such as hotels, resorts, house boats, ayurveda centres, homestays, service villas and adventure activity centres were instructed to strictly go by the SOPs.

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