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TechSparks 2017 kicks off with a big bang, Priyank Kharge says entrepreneurs matter

TechSparks 2017 kicks off with a big bang, Priyank Kharge says entrepreneurs matter

Friday September 22, 2017 , 4 min Read

Stating that Karnataka remains committed to startups, IT and BT Minister Priyank Kharge in his keynote address says every entrepreneur and every idea 'matters'. 

Priyank Kharge, Minister, IT and BT, Sci-tech and Tourism, Government of Karnataka.

Priyank Kharge, Minister, IT and BT, Sci-tech and Tourism, Government of Karnataka, kick-started TechSparks 2017 on Friday, September 22, with a quote by famous playwright George Bernard Shaw.

Quoting Shaw, he said,

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

Speaking at the eighth edition of YourStory's flagship annual event, Kharge said: “All of you do matter, every single idea matters and the Government of Karnataka is committed to policy and execution.”

The two-day event will see conversations and idea-sharing across a gamut of areas, including financial technology, e-commerce, fashion, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things.

Presenting the welcome note, Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO of YourStory, emphasised on the theme of Make It Matter, and said it was important for startups and entrepreneurs to realise they do matter in the scheme of things.

Shradha Sharma, Founder, CEO YourStory

Kharge said the state was supportive of the startup ecosystem. “We are the only state government to disburse Rs 35 crores to startups,” he said. However, he cautioned entrepreneurs to introspect and not become “reckless” and “fancy” that often leads to cash burn.

“Even after funding, startups run out of money quickly as they indulge in reckless spending.”

Allowing ideation, fostering innovation

The state government recently concluded Elevate100, a programme where more than 1,700 applications were received. Of these 1,700 applications, 100 startups were fast-tracked to be part of a mentorship and funding programme organised by the government.

“Any platform should connect startups to governments and corporates. How do we provide an environment for fearless entrepreneurs to succeed? These are the questions I ask myself,” Kharge said. He added that if he, as a minister, needed to be a winner he had to ensure that he was a leader in innovation.

“We are trying to go beyond Bengaluru and reach all other cities in Karnataka. The policy allows ideation and this fosters innovation,” he said.

The minister also said many states announce tech parks, which give tax incentives, but don’t foster entrepreneurship.

There are 7,200 startups in Bengaluru alone, of which 4,000 are registered by the government of Karnataka. The Government of Karnataka has invested in 61 startups so far.

A packed hall at TechSparks 2017 inaugural session.

“I have a lot of pressure to ensure that startups don’t fail,” he said. Talking about what plagues startups, Priyank Kharge said, that is because:

  • They may not build the right product or service.
  • Startups are not connected to the ecosystem of professionals to guide them through compliance and legal counsel.
  • Corporates are not giving them a platform.
  • They spend money recklessly on marketing and lifestyle.
  • They lack the knowhow regarding how to shut down when things do not work out.

The Karnataka government is changing all this by incorporating changes in the tender process to allow startups to access business from government projects. Till now only large companies, who can drop pricing of services, were allowed to participate in the tender process.

Helping the ecosystem evolve

The Government of Karnataka will set up an AI, Machine Learning and Big Data Centre, powered by corporate giants likes IBM, NVIdea, Intel and Microsoft, by the end of the year. It also has plans to set up a cyber security centre by the end of 2017 and a large EV manufacturing facility by the end of the financial year.

 “Entrepreneurs are the change. Being an entrepreneur is a difficult thing, for being the change you will encounter a lot of problems. It is a very lonely journey,” said Kharge, encouraging founders not to give up.

The audience, which was enthralled by the minister’s diction, quizzed him about accessing the Government of Karnataka’s startup programme. “My email is accessible and I will ensure that everyone gets access to government,” Kharge replied.

The government is active in places other than Bengaluru as well. “We run a new-age incubation network for engineering colleges, offering up to Rs 40 lakhs for 10 experiments. We have closed 180 projects, incorporated 60 companies and have 12 patents,” Kharge said.

He also told the audience that centres for hardware and electronics are being set up in Belgavi, Hubli, Mangaluru and Gulbarga.

He joked that if this pace of execution has to continue, his government should be voted back in.

“A lot of states copy our policy. But the IT and the startup ecosystem is thriving in Karnataka and we plan to stay ahead,” Kharge signed off.

There's a lot happening over the next two days at TechSparks, India’s premier startup conference and showcase. Here's why you must attend TechSparks 2017!