How Andhra Pradesh is gearing to become a startup hub

16th Dec 2017
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It is a bright Saturday morning, and it is a packed room at ITC Gardenia, Bengaluru for the sixth edition of MobileSparks - Building for the Next Billion.

After a interesting talk by Jason Wang - VP for Emerging Market and MD, SHAREit India, who illustrated the importance of India as strong market, Shri J A Chowdary, Special Chief Secretary & IT Advisor to Hon’ble CM, Government of Andhra Pradesh took to the stage to explain how the new state of Andhra Pradesh was a startup on its own.

Being an entrepreneur himself, Chowdary was one of the co-founders of PortalPlayer and pioneered the development of the chip that went into the first generation of Apple iPod.

The iPod story took PortalPlayer to a successful IPO and it was later acquired by visual computing giant NVIDIA.

JA Chowdhary, Special Chief Secretary & IT Advisor to Hon’ble CM, Government of Andhra Pradesh

India a growing consumer base

Chowdary began his talk by emphasising why India is changing. He said:

“My first office was in Bengaluru in a small space above Texas Instruments on Miller’s Road. From the 90’s I have seen India emerge and grow to become a top consumer market. When we set up PortalPlayer, it was important to set up an office in Silicon Valley. At that time there was no VC funding, market or consumers. We just had a small back office.”

Today, India is a different world. There are products being built for the Indian audience because it is a large consumer base and technologies are being built here.

The launch of many programmes by the government to bring more people under the banking purview has resulted in the transformation of rural economies, making even the next billion a big consumer base.

Chowdary also spoke on the reverse knowledge transfer that is now taking place. “The best innovators are coming back to India and setting up companies here,” he said. “Governments are competing with each other to help the startup ecosystem," he added.

Why Andhra Pradesh?

When Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu called Chowdary, he was engaged in organic farming at a village in Andhra Pradesh. The CM told him,

“Ours is a new state, we don't have capital or infrastructure, in that sense, we are a startup state, and to build this startup state we need to bring in innovative companies and help them succeed in Andhra Pradesh. And for that, the government will make it easier for businesses to set up.”

1. Focus specifically on fostering technology and innovation 

Since Naidu has always been a big believer in technology being a key driver of growth, he focussed on setting up processes, helped by new technologies and innovations.

The key pointers of the AP innovation and startup policies include - establishing over 100 incubators and accelerators, setting up incubation space, and helping over 5000 companies and startups to be incubated.

2. Focussing on a unique - AP driven 5M strategy- Manpower, Money, Meetup Events, Money and Market Access

Since AP is a new state, the government believes it needs set up the right support system to help startups grow and develop. Understanding that technology is fast changing and transforming, it is important to have manpower who can work and understand the new forms and kinds of technology.

“The need for deep technology and digital is important and for that, the government has opened IIDT, a government accredited institute focussed on deep technology,” said Chowdary.

To also help bring more manpower, it is important to bring in R&D centres - AP now has cybersecurity R & D centres, by an Israeli company, R&D for cryptology, blockchain technology and centres of excellence. By 2019, the team is looking to set up one million square feet of incubation space, to encourage and develop innovation centres.

“Being an entrepreneur I understand how important money is. While funding for a new state is a problem, the AP government has committed a Rs 500 crore fund for all companies, that set up in Andhra Pradesh.”

The government is also setting up monthly meetup events to help startups meet different people in the ecosystem, with whom they can network and learn from. In terms of mentorship and market access, the government is working with different corporates and well-established startups to mentor and talk to people in incubation centres.

“Since AP is a new state, the market needs newer, innovative and different products for its people and consumers. Apart from this, the government is also looking to becoming a Blockchain technology state by 2019," concluded Chowdary.

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