Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A win-win for county: Five Indian companies join incubator

Rockville center beat out other East Coast locations

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This story was corrected on July 21, 2008, from its original version.

After winning out over other East Coast locations, Montgomery County officials celebrated Monday the successful wooing of five Indian technology companies to establish a pilot office in the Rockville Innovation Center.

County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) and Pradeep Ganguly, the county’s director of the Department of Economic Development, were joined by Indian business and embassy officials in welcoming the companies to the Rockville Town Center incubator, which houses 26 companies in nearly 23,000 square feet.

The companies — Jiva Internet Solutions, Alliance Infotech, PT Puretesting Software, Interra Information Technologies and Heuristics Informatics — are members of the Indian Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council. County representatives first met with council executives during a trade mission to India in November.

‘‘On the East Coast, we considered New York, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland,” Nalin Kohli, the council’s immediate past chairman and president of the Association of Small and Medium Knowledge Industries in India, said in a statement. Kohli developed a pilot program to identify companies that could benefit from being in the United States.

‘‘It was a difficult choice, but we were very impressed with Montgomery County and by the county executive’s decision to send a delegation to meet with our members in New Delhi last fall,” Kohli said. ‘‘We are very happy with our decision, and now as [association] president, I want to extend this same type of initiative to India’s biotech and defense Industries.”

Vanit Kumar, Jiva’s CEO and managing director, said Monday, ‘‘When we came to know about this opportunity to open an office in the U.S., this was the ideal platform we were looking for.”

Jiva, which provides call center and Web-enabled information technology services and products, has 100 employees in Andhra Pradesh, and already did $450,000 in U.S. sales last year, according to county information. Heuristics, of Haryana, which provides IT consulting services, did $600,000 in U.S. sales last year.

‘‘Interra IT has focused our U.S. business development activities in the Midwest and West Coast and due to limited resources, had not been able to extend this activity to the East Coast, particularly the Washington, D.C., area,” Asoke K. Laha, managing director, said in a statement.

The five companies, which signed an initial six-month lease with a month-to-month agreement to follow, will use one office in the cooperative venture. The office will have two employees, including a marketing executive and a support staffer, to provide marketing, sales and business development services, Ganguly said.

Kohli, echoing remarks by others Monday that the pilot program is seen as the beginning of a growing business relationship between the county and India, said each of the five companies will eventually have ‘‘10 to 15 employees” in the county and their own offices.

‘‘We are certainly delighted to welcome these companies to our Rockville Innovation Center, and look forward to their growth and success in the months and years ahead,” Leggett said.

Since 2000, Montgomery County’s Business Innovation Network, which includes its four incubators —with one in Germantown to come online in the fall — has graduated more than 85 biotech, informatics, telecommunications, information technology and related advanced technology companies, plus business services companies. The companies have created more than 1,800 jobs and occupied more than 500,000 square feet of commercial space in the county, according to county information.

‘‘The addition of these five IT services companies from India will help add to this success,” said Ganguly, who added that Matrix, an IT company from Great Britain, is to move into the Rockville Innovation Center next week.