Gujarat's first special economic zone for IT/ITES services is all set to kick start next month.
US based Kendle group, a leading global clinical research organisation with about $ 415 million net revenues in 2009, has firmed up its plans to check into Mindspace, a Rs 1200-crore (Rs 12-billion) IT/ITES SEZ project developed by Mumbai-based K Raheja Corp on Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar Knowledge Corridor.
The developer has also held some initial talks with IBM as a five member team led by Amanda Garland, director, global strategy, IBM, visited the state and the SEZ on an exploratory basis on Wednesday, said government sources close to the development.
K Raheja Corp has been allotted about 93 acres of government land of which 68 acresis notified for SEZ while 25 acres is for supporting activities.
The developer plans to set up about 15 buildings comprising about 10-15 million sq ft of space for IT/ITES.
"IBM is expanding its operations and it is scouting for 4.5-5 lakh sq ft space that can accommodate about 5,000 employees. For this the company is exploring three countries, including Mexico and South Africa. In India, IBM is exploring opportunities in Gandhinagar, Hyderabad and Bangalore. The team has given a verypositive impression of the state," sources said.
IBM already has a presence in Raheja's IT park in Hyderabad and the developer has a good track record with as many as 14 IT parks to its credit, the official added.
When contacted, a senior official of K Raheja Corp declined to comment. A senior government official close to the development meanwhile confirmed that they had given the necessary clearances to Kendle for setting up operations in Mindspace.
Kendle, a Nasdaq listed CRO, said in a recent filing on March 3 that it has received approval from Indian authorities to proceed with development of new operations center in a SEZ in the upcoming Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar Knowledge Corridor.
The new unit is expected to be operational by mid April, it said.
"Continued expansion throughout the Asia/Pacific region is crucial to the future growth of Kendle. The new SEZ operations center will be ideally suited to deliver best-in-class services to our customers seeking high-quality, innovative and cost-effective solutions for their clinical development needs," said Stephen Cutler, senior vice president and chief operating officer.
By 2012, analysts project that more than 65 percent of all FDA-regulated trials willtake place outside the United States, according to Kendle.
This is reflected in the Indian biotechnology market, which is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 30 percent, and the Indian CRO market, which is expected to see growth of 49 per cent annually, according to the company.
Kendle's SEZ operations center initially will house approximately 50 associates and is expected to scale up to approximately 300 associates in the near term.
Having missed the IT/ITES bus in the past, about 15-16 IT/ITES SEZs have been approved in Gujarat state in the last three years or so.
While some players like DLF have scrapped their SEZ status, others like Vascon Engineering have said in the past that their projects have been put on hold. The state government is also in the process of taking back the land it had allotted for Satyam's IT park in Gandhinagar.
About three months ago, Ganesh Housing Corporation Ltd has sought extension of the validity period of formal approval beyond December 19, 2009 for its IT SEZ near Chharodi near Ahmedabad.