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NRI-promoted tech startups score on patents

November 14, 2006 11:17 IST

High-tech startups, promoted by people of Indian origin, are doing serious development work in India. A few have their sales teams too based out of India, thus writing the final death sentence of distance.

Take the case of the $150 million (fiscal 2006) Rambus Chip Technologies, headquartered in California. A developer of chip-to-chip interface technology with 400 developers located at its centres in the US, Taiwan, Japan, China and Korea, apart from India, its MD, Prakash Bare, says: "We have a small capacity with a huge impact in the electronics industry as we focus on how to make chips talk to each other in very high speed."

The company, that is going to power the soon-to-be-launched Sony Play Station-3 with its XDR2 memory system, has so far obtained 539 patents. Moreover, it has another 479 patent applications pending for approval in the US. XDR is said to be the world's fastest data in a dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chip.

Also consider SiRF India, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nasdaq-listed SiRF Technology Holding, and a provider of Global Positioning System (GPS) conductor and software solutions. The $165 million company (2005) has so far been granted 157 patents and many of these have emerged out of its Indian operations. Says Ochinta Sharma, VP, Engineering, SiRF India, "We are creating IPs in basic design semiconductor in the area of wireless and navigation. We are also working on making GPS and Bluetooth single chip design components out of India."

While many of the technology companies have their R&D teams located in India, they had never been geared to India as a potential market. For instance, Xora Software Systems, a US-registered company, has all its 50 developers and 50 customer support executives located in India. But it addresses markets mostly in the US and Australia.

Xora works in the niche area of mobile resource management (MRM), a technology built around the GPS system. Pramod Jajoo, managing director, Xora Software said, "We are not hiring thousands of employees as our requirement is different. We believe in lot of caliber instead of a lot of people." It has over 15 patent product patents pending in its kitty.

Technology firmsĀ  that thrive on creating IPs attract more talent. Many Indian techies are coming back to start their own ventures. A case in point is NetDevices, an integrated networking company that provides services like routing, switching and VPN, co-founded by two former Cisco employees.

"We believe in speed. It took us just three quarters to build a team of 50 engineers and three years to bring out products," said Uday Birje, country manager & vice president - India & Asean, NetDevices Networks. NetDevices employs about 10 developers in the US. Birje says its Indian operations has filed for 10 patents so far.

Bibhu Ranjan Mishra in Mumbai
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