"We Are Taking Innovation To All Over Karnataka" – Priyank Kharge

"We Are Taking Innovation To All Over Karnataka" – Priyank Kharge
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The current period marks the dawn of digitization in India with Karnataka leading the torch. The state’s capital Bengaluru is India’s own Silicon Valley and shows the true potential of Digital India. The state government has been extensively working on helping the startup ecosystem, providing it with policies and technology which is making starting new business ventures easier for everybody.

Realizing the importance of Internet in the development of India, Karnataka government has been setting up WiFi hotspots around the state. Only recently they gave a brilliant solution to an age old problem of manual system of handling land records. The government’s solution to this was Bhoomi system, under which the Department of Revenue set up 177 computerized land record kiosks (Bhoomi centers) and nearly 20 million records of land ownership of 6.7 million farmers in the state of Karnataka were digitized.

That is some brilliant work and with a vision like theirs, we see no holding-up of development. We at had the opportunity to talk to the IT Minister of Karnataka, Priyank Kharge, recently at our Entrepreneur Indian Annual Convention 2016 about his plans for the startup hub of India and we got some insightful answers.

How is Karnataka government encouraging entrepreneurship?

In order to encourage entrepreneurship and startups in Bengaluru, our Honourable Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has come up with a startup policy. This policy envisages to ensure that we have 20 thousands startups, of which 6 thousand startups will be product based startups. We have also stared a startup dedicated cell to encourage the startup in that direction. Moreover, we have sanctioned over Rs 400 crore funding for various sectors.  So anything from agriculture to aerospace, if there is an idea, startup Karnataka is the way to go.

Why we have such a robust ecosystem is, one, because we have all the skill sets and knowledge that is required. The other thing is that we have always been a technology and innovation hub, with an experience of not 20 or 30 years, but about three centuries now. So whether it is Tipu Sultan’s rocket technology or C V Raman led experiments in the city; institutions like Indian Institute of Technology, HAL and NAL etc., so we have a lot of science and science centers behind these innovations.

Traditionally, I feel, we have always been the startup capital of India.

What can India learn from Silicon Valley and vice-versa?

Currently, we are the largest technology clustered in India, but we get a lot of learnings from not only Silicon Valley, but also from countries, such as, Israel and London. And there are a number of things these counties or startups hubs can learn from Bengaluru.

For example, incubation networks that we have are taking technology to Tier II towns, wherein, we are not concentrating everything on one particular sector of Bengaluru. We are taking it all over Karnataka and even to smaller towns, which have been funded close to around $15 million recently. So the learning they can take from us is the expanse that we are going to create.

How important is collaborating with central government?

We do collaborate with the central government very closely. Our first Centre of Excellence – Internet of Things, is first of its kind in India and is in collaboration with the central government.

We would love to collaborate more with the central system, as at the end of the day, it would benefit the startup ecosystem. So whether it is any state government or anybody who is heading the central government, it is necessary for both of them to collaborate to ensure the right kind of delivery mechanism are being given to the startup ecosystem.

Any particular sector Karnataka government is eyeing?

We have been talking to various sectors, especially aerospace and manufacturing.  We have already given our wish list to the Honourable Minster Ravi Shankar Prasad, and we will see how we can together create the best plausible ecosystem in India. 

(With inputs from Sandeep Soni and Sneha Banerjee) 

Edition: November 2016

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