BUILD YOUR EMPIRE AT ORION CITY
Built on 16 acres of land, Orion City was the first and largest IT park in Sri Lanka, housing companies ranging in all sizes and providing varied IT solutions. Launched in 2009, Orion City caters to the specific needs of the IT/BPO industry, with advanced infrastructure and professional facilities.
Located on Baseline Road within Colombo city limits, it is close enough to draw inspiration from the country’s commercial capital.
The park aims to be a hive of innovation and entrepreneurship, a task it is thriving at from a closer look at its inhabitants – from heavyweights like Virtusa and Pearson, to young fledging startups in different verticals.
With over 6,000 heads currently sitting at Orion City, the IT park has plans to expand further, with an increased focus on the startup community. From co-working spaces to digital offices, Orion City is on the fast track to becoming the most prestigious address in Sri Lanka.
Echelon spoke to General Manager Mr. Milinda Wickremeratne about the success of Orion City and its next phase of growth, and with Head of Marketing Ms. Jehanki Anandha on Orion NEST and its latest offering for startups.
BACKED BY A DECADE OF SUCCESS
Originally built to house IT giants like Virtusa, Orion City launched with office space covering 30,000 square feet. Today, the IT park covers a million square foot of prime property.
Orion Towers is a three-phase project that has come to fruition this year with the opening of Orion Towers Phase 1. Orion Tower 2 will be the second phase and Tower 3 soon after.
At present, the services are spread across several buildings, like a food court, banks, pharmacy, gym and a branch of Oasis Hospital. It’s built on the concept of a city within a city, where everything you need is available within the park.
Orion Tower will be a separate facility in itself. The first level will be a mall – including banks, a laundromat, flower shop, supermarket, shops and a bakery; the second level is a food court; levels three to eight are parking spaces for occupants; the ninth level is Orion NEST; levels 10 to 18 will be office spaces; and finally, levels 19-20 will be a business hotel called Elyon Colombo with 30 rooms and meeting room facilities. The tower will also have a sky garden, a restaurant and a bar.
These services will be expanded across Tower 2 and Tower 3 as well, eventually. The aim is to create an industry-driven environment and a good community for anyone to come in and grow their business.
“With regard to our facilities, it is important to note that the building conforms to all stringent international and local standards and regulations. For example, all materials and parts are underwriter-listed, which meant that it was difficult to source some of them locally. Th e building is designed to conform to BS, ASHRAE, NFPA and all local standards and regulations and is LEED Gold certified. Particular care has been taken to minimise energy costs with the installation of double-glazed curtain walls on the façade and fixing of capacitor banks, variable speed drives, etc, when it comes to services. Prime-rated generators of N+1 capacity, while being capable of being operated 24×7 in case of disruptive power outages, back up the whole building rather than only critical loads as in other buildings. Th e CEB Primary Substation of 32 MVA located within the Park has the capacity to service over 3 million square feet and is fed by two sources namely Kelanitissa and Sapugaskanda, thereby virtually guaranteeing zero power outages in the park,” noted Mr. Wickremeratne.
“We are proud to announce that Orion Tower 1 will be fully operational by August 2019,” he further stated.
NURTURING THE STARTUP COMMUNITY
Initially set up to house big players in the IT sphere, today, Orion City takes its responsibility to nurture startups seriously. By linking IT startups with bigwigs in the industry, also located within the park, it hopes to nurture an environment of collaboration and innovation.
While it is called an IT park, Orion City also opens its doors to a mix of communities, lending its prestigious address to those who wish to collaborate for growth, as well as smaller companies looking to locate within a nurturing ambience.
In terms of service offerings, an address at Orion City does not require a huge investment that most startups can ill afford. Rather, the park provides a gamut of services for its residents – from energy saving systems to enable 24/7 operations and fully serviced spaces, to plug-and-play workstations and expandable offices.
The latest offering for startups is virtual offices, where companies can list under the Orion City address, adding mileage and prestige to their firms, while using spaces within the park for meetings and such.
Orion NEST aims to bridge the gap by providing the strength that startups need to grow.
Continuity is also a key aspect – continuity in terms of business and growing together with bigger companies. Given the success of Orion City, startups can be rest assured that they won’t suddenly be uprooted or displaced.
By creating a nurturing and collaborative atmosphere within Orion NEST, it takes the role of the platform providing networking opportunities for startups and through this, and hopes that these startups get inspired to aim higher and achieve more in their respective spheres. In this light, Orion NEST will also host mentorship sessions for startups, moderated by larger organizations in the park, to encourage networking among companies.
ORION NEST AS A CO-WORKING SPACE
Orion City’s latest off ering for startups is Orion NEST, located within Orion Towers, its newest development. Orion NEST caters to startup companies through co-working spaces and designated seats.
Co-working is a business services model that involves individuals working independently or collaboratively in a shared office space. Th rough Orion NEST, Orion City provides startups and entrepreneurs with equipment, space and services that they could not otherwise afford.
Ms. Anandha, commenting on the Orion NEST prepositions and benefits afforded, stated, “A key benefit of a prestigious address at Orion City is the ability to collaborate with industry giants and innovation opportunities.
The co-working spaces at Orion NEST provide an opportunity for likeminded startups to work in a shared space, encouraging the sharing of ideas and resources to collectively grow the industry. These offices are for startups or entrepreneurs who wish to occupy several workstations on a weekly or monthly basis, or on a longer-term contract of six months to one year. We have shared spaces that range from 4-seaters that can be extended up to 25 seats, for companies that scale during their stint within the park.”
SCALING COMPANIES BY ADDING VALUE
A prime requirement for startups is the flexibility to experiment and grow. Allowing startups to focus on their business, Orion City provides all necessary facilities for operation – from fully kitted offices, commons spaces and a reception, to meeting rooms and even parking spaces.
Th rough this, the park hopes to provide a space and environment where startups can grow and flourish.
“Orion NEST has witnessed startups growing into multinationals within the park itself, even over a span of six months to a year. Companies that started with four-man operations have taken over additional space within the park and grown to sizeable organizations, adding value to the industry, as well as the country. Value additions and providing flexibility in terms of scale-ability of growth has been one of the core successes for Orion City,” Ms. Anandha continued.
For example, Creately is a value diagramming tool designed by Cinergix, a startup company that has been at Orion NEST for the past 8 years and continues to grow. Mobisec, a mobile app development company, is another operation that was a start up, which now occupies a 1,500 square foot office space within the park.
A prime example is perhaps Virtusa, Orion City’s first occupant. Here since 2007, IT giants like Virtusa moving their entire operation to Orion City, followed by Pearson, WNS and Exetel, is a testament to the value the park adds to organizations of any shape and size.