Bengaluru boasts of 27 unicorns in India along with being the largest IT destination in the world. Soon, the city is going to lead the way for startups in the country and the feeling resonated with experts and entrepreneurs at the recently held 22nd edition of Bengaluru Tech Summit.
The theme of the summit this year was ‘Innovation and Impact 2.0’. “Bengaluru is the youngest city and every person here is a techie. The adoption rate is much faster,” cofounder of Ola Cabs Bhavish Aggarwal said during a panel discussion at the summit.
“So, if one really wants to test their product at scale, there is no better place than Bengaluru. It’s a great test market for any technology,” he added.
The focus of the summit was on how innovation and entrepreneurship can be turned into driving forces for the development of the state. Cofounder of online grocery store Bigbasket Hari Menon also seemed to agree with Aggarwal on how the company prefers to launch new services in Bengaluru first.
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“The city has a tremendous amount of early adoption, which actually helps us fine-tune our products and services. If people do not adopt faster, we do not get feedback quickly,” said Menon.
The summit saw participation from 22 countries including the Netherlands, the UK, Finland and Germany. While the conference dealt with various topics, one of the important issues touched upon by startup founders was solutions for Bengaluru’s traffic congestion. Some of the ideas discussed were shared mobility, operating private buses and improved Metro connectivity.
Cofounder of Flipkart Sachin Bansal suggested how the city can follow the likes of China, where urban planning includes several clusters with fast connectivity between two points. “Places such as Mysore and Tumkur could be developed instead of building sister cities which are a thousand kilometres apart,” added Aggarwal.
Will Karnataka’s Regulatory Sandbox Drive Startup Growth?
Meanwhile, the government also plans to formalise a legal framework for a regulatory sandbox to drive the tech startup ecosystem further.
The Karnataka government’s initiative will allow technology entrepreneurs to test the viability of products in a live situation before going for the launch of their startups.
“We are providing appropriate legal framework for supporting innovations. Recently, the state has set up Karnataka Innovation Authority under which a regulatory sandbox will be created,” Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa said at the summit. The idea behind the sandbox is to give a push to the state’s startup industry.
Karnataka will also set up a board that will fund new ventures. The technology development board will provide capital to startups that are in the technology domains like artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data and biotechnology among others. The board will provide research and development along with facilitating the right growth environment for global in-house centres (GICs). Bengaluru has around 1,400 GICs of most global companies.
Till now, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) are the only authorities to have launched regulatory sandbox frameworks for technology innovation.