When you find the annals of industry in Karnataka there is one name that has been etched in stone. R V Deshpande has been the Industries Minister three times and is responsible for ushering in the Information Technology boom in India. Legend has it that out of the Rs 28,000-crore worth of investments that was pitched in Karnataka, during his different tenures as Industries Minister, he was personally responsible for signing in Rs 18,000 crore. There is this saying in the Karnataka Udyog Mitra that he is the first to arrive in the office and the last to leave late in the evening. He also manages to do two social events a day and meet several businessmen. But, of late, his love has been to make Karnataka the startup capital of the country.
Here are the excerpts of an interview with the Heavy and Medium Industries Minister:
Q: With Invest Karnataka 2016 just around the corner what can we expect for startups?
Minister. Let me tell you that history has been on Karnataka’s side. Sixteen years ago, when we set up an investors meet in Bangalore, nobody realised how big Karnataka would become for the IT industry. Those investments that came in have now resulted in creating a system of talent and meritocracy. Today, several mid-level engineers, those who were freshers then, have become startup founders. The IT industry has gone global and Karnataka alone has close to half of the total IT exports of India. Coming to startups, we have a slew of announcements to help them. Everyone knows about the fund of funds that we are going to announce, and with them we have several schemes already running for bio-tech startups and semi-conductor startups. On February 3 and 4, startups should come and meet industry experts, government officials and talk about their needs. Let me be clear that Karnataka’s startups will have solutions for India, and we expect, with this new policy, that we will again be a pioneer in policy making.
Q: Do you expect any startup from manufacturing?
Minister: Today, manufacturing by definition cannot be considered a startup. But if there is a technology linkage between markets, say, a startup that can enable price discovery from farms to manufacturing in the food processing industry, it’s a great business. Any new company which uses technology, connecting consumers and businesses, is a startup. But there are also product startups. Data collection and analytics is another startup business. Manufacturing is our thrust area; while the larger firms automate they will need ancillaries to make components. We are going to support the entry of many medium-sized manufacturers. Defence is a major thrust area for us.
Q: You seem to want to create a network of smaller cities becoming industrial towns. What are your plans?
Minister: Yes, places like Kolar, Mysore, Hubli and Tumkur have already witnessed manufacturers moving there. I am personally involved in making this a reality because jobs have to be created in all these areas. Also, these regions have good colleges to cater to the industry. I am talking to several colleges to have entrepreneur cells. The government will support these entrepreneurs through their respective colleges.
Q: Karnataka is heavily dependent on hydel power. Do you see us increase our thermal capacities?
Minister: It’s currently a problem because we have witnessed two years of bad rainfall. It is, in fact, a drought-like situation. So I have again cleared coal-based power generation; we will generate 2,000 mega-watts by the middle of this year to help industry.
Q: What do you think of the competition from other States?
Minister. Let me be honest with you. A lot of our IT policies are foundations on which other States build upon. The more the competition the better for our country. I only believe that there are a lot of young ideas out there and need support. I would request all startups to come and witness what Invest Karnataka means to them.
YourStory is proud to partner with the Government of Karnataka’s ‘Invest Karnataka’ that will showcase the strides made in industrial development by the State and will also attract investments from across the world. The event is to be held between 3 and 5 February 2016 in Bengaluru(Register here).
With an aim to provide a digitally enhanced user platform to all the participants in the Invest Karnataka, Global Investors Summit, the Government of Karnataka recently launched the Invest Karnataka 2016 mobile application. You can download the app on your Android device.