Microsoft Project Vikas to enhance efficiency of around 1,000 A'bad-based pharma SMEs .Pharmaceutical manufacturing clusters in Ahmedabad received a booster dose in form of the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC) and Microsoft India's joint initiative 'Project Vikas', aimed at building their skill and increasing efficiency and reliability. Under this project, launched in Gujarat on Wednesday, Microsoft India will provide support through its customised software to around 1,000 Ahmedabad-based small and medium scale units engaged in pharma sector.

Microsoft India, with help of its two local partners – Soham Computers and Enzen Technologies Pvt Ltd, will help small scale pharma units in their routine operations. In Gujarat, after Ahmedabad pharma cluster, Microsoft will soon take care of Surat-based diamond clusters. However, designing solutions for the project is still being worked out.

"Project Vikas focuses not just on driving IT penetration, but also skill and capacity building, helping the clusters to increase their efficiency and reliability," said Rajiv Sodhi, director, emerging geographies, Microsoft India. "It is about giving choice to the customers, both on how they want to use the software, and how they want to pay for it. Some customers prefer not to make upfront investments or maintain an IT staff – so a hosted model works best for them, while some unit prefer an on-site solution," said Sodhi, adding that the project aims at enhancing efficiency in the SMEs through IT application, so company first tried to understand the need of each cluster and then customised solutions that suits with the need.

"The objective of project Vikas is to improve competitiveness of SMEs through offering IT solutions for operations and innovations," said Sodhi.

Launched in 2006, the project is being implemented in about 10 SME clusters across the country including Tirupur (textiles), Ahmedabad (pharmaceuticals) and Pune (automobiles). It would identify SME-suitable solutions such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and facilitate implementation.

A month ago, Microsoft India had launched the project for the pharmaceutical manufacturing clusters in Hyderabad.

Test at Mercury Lab successful

Vadodara-based Mercury Laboratory Ltd, which was selected for the as a case study for the project Vikas has give thumbs up to the new software solutions of Microsoft.  “After installing Microsoft software in July 2008 at the company, there is significant improvement in efficiency along with reduction in wastage. We expect to save around Rs40-50 lakh by the end of this financial year thanks to this project,” said Raju Shah, managing director of Mercury Laboratory Ltd. The company employs around 650 people. Following installation of the software, much improvement in communication was seen, he added.

Web portal for pharma SMEs

After announcing launch of project Vikas for small pharma units at Ahmedabad, Microsoft India has also launched a web portal This initiative is launched in partnership with Indiamart, one of the largest visited web portals. This will help pharma SMEs to connect with manufacturers at national and global levels. Project Vikas, initiated by government of India and Microsoft India, will not only enhance IT penetration amongst the SMEs but will also help in skill and capacity building, which will in turn, increase their efficiency and profitability.