Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani said it would allow students and faculty members to take up to a year off to start their own ventures, in what seems to be an encouraging move to nurture entrepreneurship in India.
“In case (a) student intends to take a year off to pursue entrepreneurship on a full-time basis, his application would be routed through the dean for approval…,” said the policy document shared by BITS with its students, a copy of which was reviewed by Moneycontrol.
With this move, BITS is also taking on the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), which continue to dominate the startup and unicorn ecosystems in the country. Moneycontrol had reported earlier that at least one founder of over 73 of India's more than 100 unicorns came from one of the country's 23 IITs.
Meanwhile, according to Tracxn Technologies data, BITS Pilani alumni have founded over 900 startups, with over 13 of them making it to the list of Indian unicorns, including Zeta, MPL, Swiggy, BigBasket, and Groww. Hari Menon of Big Basket, Sriharsha Majety of Swiggy, and Phanindra Sama of RedBus are all alumni of BITS.
The institute recently came up with the ‘BITS innovation and startup policy of 2022’ that would “guide in setting resource plans to achieve entrepreneurship goals of the institute and give momentum to startups and other ventures founded and co-founded by BITSians in India and across the globe.”
Interestingly, the document also allows students, who are pursuing entrepreneurial ventures, to use their address in the institute to register their company with due permission. This facility is available to students whose firms have been funded and incubated by PIEDS (Pilani Innovation & Entrepreneurship Development Society), BITS Pilani's official tech-business incubator.
Not to miss, the policy said that students may also earn course credits for working on innovative prototypes and business models.
The policy also empowers faculty members to take up to a year off to start their own company. “Faculty members may avail either a sabbatical or an extraordinary leave or an earned leave for a maximum period of one year as per the prevailing rules of Faculty Affairs Division (FAD) and may be allowed to work full time for the start-up,” said the policy document.
From the no-attendance policy and various incubation routes to the deferred placement policy and the early-graduation programme, BITS Pilani's progressive innovative approach to tech education has long been talked about. Students believe the new policy reinstates BITS’ entrepreneurial vision.
"Deferred placements only help if you’re starting up in your final year but the option for a year off would help all the students. I think the new policy is a way to structurally and actively enable entrepreneurship on campus," said Utkarsh Choudhary, a third-year student at BITS and the current chief of Conquest, India's first student-run startup accelerator, powered by BITS, Pilani.
The new policy, according to the document, would also help maintain uniformity of various policies and processes across BITS Pilani campuses.