In a bid to accelerate the development of artificial intelligence and data science related technologies, the Karnataka government is looking to invest $6.1 Mn (INR 40 Cr) for the construction of a state-of-the-art tech hub.
In an official statement issued by the state government, industry body NASSCOM was named the centre’s programme and implementation partner.
Commenting on the development, the state’s Minister of Information Technology, Biotechnology & Tourism, Priyank Kharge, said, “Karnataka has led the IT revolution in India and has always been at the forefront in areas of science and IT. Our government has played a substantial role in developing a robust startup entrepreneurial ecosystem through its startup policies, startup warehouses executed by NASSCOM and with financial aid wherever required. This Centre of Excellence is the logical next step required to provide the right fillip to areas of data science and artificial intelligence and give a head start to not just the state, but India as a destination to develop global product solutions.”
Dubbed as the Centre of Excellence for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (CoE-DS&AI), the tech hub will be based on a public-private partnership model.
The minister added, “The state government will further support the initiative with a significant share of investment required for initial five years and nonsensitive data which can augment innovation and research in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence across the country.”
As revealed by Kharge, the artificial intelligence and data science hub will also make it easier for corporates to set up their analytics arm in Karnataka. The end goal is to create over 35,000 jobs for AI and data science professionals in the state over the course of five years.
The proposal, as per reports, has already received cabinet approval. The facility is slated for inauguration in January 2018.
Karnataka Government Proactively Supporting Entrepreneurship And Innovation
In the last several years, the Karnataka government has played a major role in bolstering the state’s fledgeling startup ecosystem. The state government’s efforts to facilitate entrepreneurship can be traced back to 2015 when the Karnataka Startup Policy was launched with a vision to stimulate the growth of 20,000 tech startups by 2020.
In July 2016, it launched a number of schemes, which included a $60 Mn fund, and a startup cell in Karnataka Biotechnology, and Information Technology Services, all geared towards bolstering the state’s startup ecosystem. In September 2016, the Karnataka Startup Cell poured $300K (INR 2 Cr) into eight startups in the tourism sector.
In March this year, Priyank Kharge announced a $1.4 Mn fund for women entrepreneurs. Later in May, the state’s agriculture department started a $1.5 Mn (INR 10 Cr) fund for companies in the agritech field. In the same month, the state created a $1.65 Mn (INR 10.7 Cr) fund to support 26 startups in the biotechnology sector. Each winner was given a cheque of $77.2K (INR 50 Lakhs).
In July, the Minister of Industry and Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman revealed plans to set up a Startup Coast in Karnataka, in order to facilitate entrepreneurs in South India. According to reports, the proposed Startup Coast will entail the construction of two innovation centres, a 100-seater workspace in Mangaluru and, up to, five incubation hubs in colleges across the southern part of India.
Around the same time, the state government launched ELEVATE 100, an initiative that aims to identify and support 100 of the most innovative startups in Karnataka. In less than a month, the organisers received nearly 1,700 applications, of which the top 100 startups were selected towards the end of August.
In September, the Karnataka government announced the ‘Grand Challenge Call Five and Call Six’, under the State Startup Policy. The initiative aims to unearth innovative solutions to reduce traffic congestion in Bengaluru city as well as tackle the perennial water scarcity. In the same month, the government rolled out Electric Vehicle and Energy Storage Policy 2017, which is aimed at making the state a hub for the production of alternative fuel vehicles, and bolstering the ‘Make In Karnataka’ initiative.
Speaking about the Government of Karnataka’s efforts to move towards innovation, Priyank Kharge told Inc42, “The Government of Karnataka has always been ahead of the digital curve. We envisaged the IT policy way back in the 1990s, long before any other state government even thought that IT had a potential. The same goes with emerging technologies. Like I said, from services-based industry, we have moved to R&D. From R&D, we are now moving to innovation. When I say innovation, it does revolve around emerging technologies like AI, Big Data, machine learning, animation, gaming, cybersecurity, and so on.”