Karnataka IT minister Priyank Kharge details govt roadmap to elevate the state's startup ecosystem

The Government of Karnataka aims to provide mentorship, incubation, networking opportunities, access to the right markets and VCs, and funding to startups, said Priyank Kharge, the Karnataka IT minister.

Karnataka IT minister Priyank Kharge details govt roadmap to elevate the state's startup ecosystem

Saturday September 23, 2023,

4 min Read

After a power-packed keynote on the third day of TechSparks 2023, Priyank Kharge, Minister, IT, BT and Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Government of Karnataka, shared a slew of initiatives that the state government has put in place to elevate its startup ecosystem.

Kharge put forth a five-point plan comprising setting up a skill advisory committee, creating centres of excellence, formulating a global innovation alliance, helping startups build in areas beyond Bengaluru, and reaching out to corporations, MSMEs, and startups to ensure higher ease of doing business.

The minister also urged startups to focus on value and solving real-life problems.

“In the last couple of years, we seem to have lost track—we are chasing valuation and not value. When you are solving a real-life problem, the gestation period is longer, but that is where the big deal is," said Kharge, in a fireside chat with Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO, YourStory, at TechSparks 2023.

Government initiatives

The state of Karnataka has been propelling startups for years, said the state IT minister. In December, the Karnataka cabinet approved a state startup policy for 2022-27, which aims to stimulate the growth of 25,000 startups by 2027.

The Government of Karnataka has several initiatives to boost startups, including the Elevate programme, Women Entrepreneurship and Rural Entrepreneurship Programme, Public Procurement Policy, and creating centres of excellence, which act as incubators, the minister said.

Kharge added that the government is also creating a platform for startups to help them have direct access to venture capitalists.

The Government of Karnataka aims to provide mentorship and incubation, access to the right markets, networking, and funding to the startups, said the minister.

“The government is also ready to be your first customer. It is not just funding, it is about the entire journey of an entrepreneur; we want to ensure they are successful,” Kharge remarked.

Beyond Bengaluru, an initiative anchored by the Department of Electronics, IT and BT, is designed to ensure that startups and industries are set up in Tier II towns such as Hubli, Mangaluru, and Belagavi. This sector-specific focus would allow startups in different industries such as agriculture, biotechnology, and aerospace to grow in specific towns.

The state will focus on developing information technology (IT) services and manufacturing capabilities outside Bengaluru, the state IT minister said.

Commenting on the semiconductor industry, Kharge said the next semiconductor revolution in Asia will take place in Karnataka, and not just Bengaluru.

"We have already invested close to Rs 8,000 crore to aid manufacturing. We will ensure that the state grows evenly and sustainably,” he added.

Facilitating direct reach to the govt

To help startups to reach out to the government directly, the government is coming up with a robust channel to reach out to the Minister of IT directly, said Kharge.

For the time being, startups can register with the startup cell and place a request. The new mechanism is expected to be announced next month.

Spirit of entrepreneurship

Commenting on the spirit of entrepreneurship in Karnataka, the minister said it has not happened overnight.

"It has been burning for the last 500 years,” Kharge said, during his keynote address at the 14th edition of YourStory’s flagship event Techsparks 2023. 

“We moved from being the call centre of the world to IT services, to become an R&D hub. From research and development, we have moved on to become an innovation and invention hub. Of Fortune 500 companies, 400 have their R&D centres in Bengaluru," he added.

Speaking about the mission-driven journey of politics and what keeps him resilient, Kharge said it is definitely a struggle. However, he added that it is very rewarding to see the government policies and work benefitting others. 

“The biggest motivation is the people themselves. I get a lot of energy from people who are in my constituency, work with me, and entrepreneurs. As long as there is a willingness to learn and be the change, it keeps you motivated,” Kharge remarked.

“Talking to entrepreneurs is how I know what are the changes needed, what changes in policies are needed,” he added.

Edited by Swetha Kannan