Karnataka will create 20,000 startups by 2020, Bengaluru Tech Summit kicks off with fanfare
Calling the State of Karnataka as the most innovative, Gaurav Gupta, Principal Secretary for IT- BT and Tourism, Karnataka, opened the three-day Bengaluru Tech Summit today by thanking industry leaders in hi-tech industries such as manufacturing, biotechnology, software, and pharmaceuticals for making Karnataka the preferred destination for investment in technology.
“We have sessions on future of technology and how it can impact the world. There have been sector-specific policies that support entrepreneurs and also have policies to reskill people,” he said, addressing a packed hall at the Palace Grounds in Bengaluru.
The Bengaluru Tech Summit is being billed as the biggest in India with more than 100 startups along with 200 large and medium-sized technology companies exhibiting at the event.
To prove to the world that Karnataka is ahead in making technology inclusive for every stratum of society, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah launched WiFi across 500-gram panchayats (GPs) and said it would be launched across 2650 more GPs across the state.
“Karnataka is a leader in knowledge-intensive industries since India gained Independence. We are the best in digital skills and continue to maintain our leadership in emerging technologies,” Siddaramaiah said. He added that manufacturing is also getting disrupted by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics, and that these are technologies that we need to support. “Our state is future ready and technology must be inclusive for people. Governance is about bridging the digital divide for all strata of society. Startups will bring innovation with technologies across cities and towns,” he said.
Software eating hardware was the broad discussion that the industry leaders and ministers discussed at the inaugural event. The message, however, was clear -- startups will make the greatest impact in Karnataka. Industries Minister R V Deshpande said, “Karnataka will create 20,000 startups by 2020 and mobilise Rs 2000-crore fund for startups and foster industry partnerships.”
Karnataka is setting up centres of excellence in IOT, robotics, cybersecurity, data analytics, and aerospace. Mysorealore, Kalburgi, and Hubli-Dharwad will have entrepreneurship clusters. The state wants young minds to innovate and become entrepreneurs as each of the delegates spoke about finding innovation outside of large companies.
“The tech summit is bigger and better and integrated with the future. It is this future I want to talk about,” Kris Gopalakrishnan, Co-founder of Infosys, said in his speech at the inauguration.
In Karnataka, a lot of work is being done in brain research, software technology, and the sciences. According to consulting firm Zinnov, MNCs are setting up R&D centres here in Karnataka because of its talent. There are more than 456 R&D centres in Karnataka out of the 1165 MNC centres in India. Of the 323000 knowledge workers in the country, Karnataka accounts for 155000.
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“AI and Machine Learning (ML) talent is based here. We are in industry 4.0 and have moved from industry 3.0 which was about the IT services,” Gopalakrishnan added.
Addressing the government, he explained that we need to train people in new technologies and invest in new products and services. “We need to work with startups and put academia up to speed with new knowledge,” he said. He even requested MNCs to champion IT professionals in other parts of Karnataka too, and not just Bengaluru.
The Karnataka government has seized this opportunity and the CM supports all investment that promotes cutting-edge technologies. Karnataka is even big in the gig economy, which flourish in the country in the future. Companies like CoWrks and WeWork are based in Bengaluru and are promoting the freelance economy. “Freelancing is the norm and we have to ready ourselves for that,” Gopalakrishnan said.
His thoughts were aptly seconded by Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman of Biocon.
“Gene editing is a digital technology and there is a convergence of life sciences and software. Karnataka is already readying itself for this revolution,” Shaw said. She added that Bengaluru is the fourth biggest startup hub in the world, with Karnataka accounting for 40 percent of the startups in the country. “Karnataka has 60 percent of the lifetech startups of the 1200 startups in the country,” she said.
The lifetech startup ecosystem itself has created 3000 co-founders in Karnataka. Thirty percent of these entrepreneurs are women. Shaw said that the USFDA approved a digital medical tablet this week where the tablet sits in the stomach and uses radio signals to diagnose problems with the body.
“Karnataka is a global leader in tech and the government is setting up centres of excellence in several technologies,” R Chandrasekhar, Chairman of Nasscom, said. He added that perhaps the only challenge was to be up to speed with the Infrastructure.
While all the leaders present at the event praised Karnataka for producing talent for the tech and the biotech industries, they blamed it for the bottlenecks in the form of bad roads and management of civic infrastructure. For the state to be ahead, it needs to invest in infrastructure jointly with investing in talent.
By 2022, Bengaluru plans to have 250 kms of metro to decongest the city. “We will solve the infrastructure issue and are already working on it,” R V Deshpande said. He added that we are in the age of disruption and EVs are coming. “Karnataka will invest in medtech, robotics, and AI,” he said.
“When we came here 20 years ago, we clearly came here for the talent and we are fostering that talent in Karnataka. Karnataka will continue to be a leader in the hi-tech industry,” Dipesh Shah, MD of the Samsung R&D Institute in India, said.
The chair continued to agree with the fact that policies should be conducive to the growth of talent.
“It is about mentoring and about setting policies that can support new technologies like edtech, medtech, and agritech. Data is the future and privacy of citizens must be protected,” Vanitha Narayanan, MD of IBM India, said.
This week, TCS announced a partnership with Rolls-Royce to build a digital journey with data sciences and AI from Bengaluru. This partnership announces a shift in the mindset from the IT Services business model to an outcome-driven business model by using data to enhance value.
However, in this entire talk about Karnataka being a leader in AI and Machine Learning, the guest of honour from Finland, Anne Berner, said that there should not be protectionism and data should not be owned by a few large companies.
“There should be laws protecting the rights of citizens in the digital world. Interoperability is important along with multi-modality and we have to ensure that startups should be supported,” Berner said. She added that in Finland industries such as AI and Big Data are the key areas of investment.
Karnataka will remain ahead in the technology race because it created the first startup policy in the country in 1997 and continues to invest in knowledge. Like professor S Sadagopan says quoting an old Indian saying, “We only become great with our knowledge and not in the physical wealth that we own in our life.”