When the going gets tough, instead of going under and shutting the shop, get up and give it another try. Indian Telephone Industries (ITI), country’s first public sector unit founded in 1948 and a premier telecom company, is an apt example of this spirit. The telecom revolution in India which led to private players entering the market has hit ITI extremely hard as it was the main telecom equipment supplier to BSNL and MTNL. But, instead of counting its losses and cashing out, ITI has decided to attempt another chance at launching itself but this time by taking help of the growing Indian Startup Industry.

The 68-year-old Indian telecom firm, which has received fresh infusion of funds from the government, has now decided to venture into telecom equipment required by the defence sector and work with startups in the area of IoT.

The telecom will be soon launching its very own Centre of Excellence for Internet of Things (IoT) so that it can easily engage with startups working in the area and together they can cater to the growing business opportunities in the Indian subcontinent. The 20,000 sq feet CoE will help the company in exhibiting its product under MoU with partners and startups.

Talking to Deccan Herald, ITI Chairman and Managing Director S Gopu said, "IoT is a business vertical where lots of our products and services can be aligned with our existing capability. The CoE will help us exhibit these solutions." He also added that the company is focusing on IoT as part of reinventing itself.

"We want this CoE to exhibit the technology prowess of ITI along with other partners and the main areas include smart health, smart transport, smart infrastructure, smart environment, smart water and waste management, among others. We have also tied up with startups to come up with solutions in this front, said Gopu to DH.

He also added that the company already has 20 MoUs in this area and is planning to exhibit the solutions in digital form or play card live demonstration. Gopu also revealed that ITI is currently participating in tendering process of smart city projects so that municipal authorities can come and experience their solutions.

According to the company, they are home to a huge telecom manufacturing facilities setup which startups in the country can make excellent use of. As of today, ITI is closely working with 22 startups including famous names like Cardiac Design Labs, Citrus Platform Solutions, Hanbit Automation Ltd, Yuktix Technologies Ltd etc. Most of the startups belong in the smart city technologies and IoT space. ITI helps the startups in manufacturing prototypes and even provide them a helping hand into getting in the market. The company is currently tying up with these startups on a revenue sharing model rather than going for a stake in the equity as the company believes the previous model helps them in pushing themselves in helping the startups to succeed.

In addition to this, under the Indian government's Swachh Bharath Mission, ITI is associated with the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) to install feedback devices at the public and private toilets so as to regularly monitor and maintain their cleanliness. In order to manufacture these devices, ITI is partnering with several startups and the volume of this business can help ITI in significantly turning around its fortunes.

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