This State Govt is Busy Building a Growth Ecosystem for Startups
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Have you ever imagined how difficult it would be for Mumbai, Delhi or even a city like Ahmadabad or Jaipur to upgrade into a smart city? They are either overcrowded without any scope of new construction or almost developed. However, wouldn't it be much easy to develop Amravati, Andhra Pradesh's new capital and a virgin land into a smart city with the help technology?
Andhra Pradesh (AP), along with Telangana, has been on the forefront of the technology ball game, so much so that, the South East Indian state is committed to develop one of its star city - Vishakhapatnam aka Vizag as a fintech valley.Additionally, unlike other states AP is not into incubation centres, instead, the state is looking to develop the market for startups to survive and compete. In a conversation with Entrepreneur Media, JA Chowdary, ?Special Chief Secretary & IT Advisor to Chief Minister, Government of Andhra Pradesh shares the strategy that will help the state to upgrade into a fintech hotspot.
Bottom of the Pyramid
Chowdary believes that technology has created a level playing field between the haves and have-nots unlike the case wherein influential people could only get their things done.
The IT advisor claims the government wants analytics, robotic processes, IoTs and other disruptive technologies to improve the happiness index of the state.
In fact, according to Chowdary, it is only because of the Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu the state is able to leverage the ongoing disruption.
"No politicians can come as close to CM Naidu when it comes to understanding technology. He knows its reach and more importantly, where it can be deployed in the state. At times, even I am stunned at his knowledge," he stated.
The local government claims to have enabled every home in the state with atleast15-20mbps speed through optical fibre technology. Additionally, wherever the networks are not accessible, AP is using Alphabet X's (Google) technology called Free Space Optical Communication (FSOC) to connect people.
He felt, "With these techniques, we are able to implement telemedicine or tele-education application in the true sense. Such applications will help us create a level playing field for the common man."
While embracing technology, the state is cautious about the certain cybersecurity-related loopholes and it believes the blockchain can fill the gaps.
"We are looking at uploading digital assets of 50m population on the blockchain system by end of 2019. The pilot phase of the project was awarded to a company called JB systems, which is based out of Vizag. We are now preparing the RFP and we'll have a hackathon model of selecting the companies," Chowdary noted.
The state is also looking at the various application of internet of things (IoT), data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, etc.
The state government understands there is a shortage in the ecosystem for emerging technologies to flourish. Hence, they decided to adopt the five-Ms strategy to address these issues while developing Vizag as a fintech valley.
Chowdary explains that five-Ms as manpower, money, market access, mentoring and meet-up.
"For manpower, the state has set up International Institute of Digital Technologies, where students will be taught about some of the new age technologies," he said while adding that, "Startups need financial assistance. The chief minister has allocated the INR100 innovation fund for the upcoming players. We are also looking to create another Rs 500 crore fund with the assistance of LPs."
Andhra Pradesh government has also announced a global fintech challenge which includes USD 1mn as a grant. The challenge is attracting startups from Boston, Tel Aviv, Silicon Valley, etc.
"This will be a good opportunity to penetrate in the Indian market, both for business expansion and raising funds perspective. For market access, we have also created India's largest use-case repository with more than 20 players. This is an axiom for many startup companies," he claimed.
Additionally, the government frequently provides mentorship and guidance to startups in need of help. It also organizes conference and hackathons for international players to meet up in the Vizag. The IT expert said, "Such events not just provide access to investors, also boost interactions and collaboration outside the ecosystem."