View from India: Technology for Governance

The Government, both at national and state level, is either setting up or supporting existing centres of excellence that promote upcoming technologies. The Cyber Security Centre of Excellence initiated by the Government of Karnataka and the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship supported by the Government of India under the technology business incubator scheme are two examples that are in the news.

The newly established Bangalore Cyber Security Centre of Excellence has been envisioned to act as a bridge between the government and industry. Its CEO is Ravikishor Mundada from the Department of ITBST, Government of Karnataka (GoK). He explained: “GoK in its effort to boost the IT sector has decided to create an ecosystem to support emerging technologies like cyber security, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). A Centre of Excellence has been created as a platform for fostering collaborations between the government and industry.”

Groundwork by the core team revealed that every large organisation has a mandate to scout around for the right talent to handle cyber security at different levels. Cyber security risks pervade every organisation, which is why the industry requires professional expertise to address these risks. “Around 40 per cent of large businesses are asked to report to their board on technology risks and cyber security. Cyber security leaders want tech solutions that balance risks, are resilient, usable and offer value for money. Hence, it’s crucial to treat cyber security as a department that performs a business function for the organisation,” explained Mundada.

For this, professionals will have to fine-tune their skills to meet the upcoming demand. The Cyber Security Centre will act as a central hub to meet the needs of Bangalore’s IT industry. It will also facilitate engineering and development programmes for cyber security needs. As of now, the organisation has signed 20 corporate partnerships. A start-up and mentoring programme is also on and by December 2018, about 4-5 start-ups are expected to be on board.

CIE, a deep-tech incubator that turns 10 this year, has put the spotlight on 10 of its most promising deep-tech start-ups that focus on artificial intelligence, machine learning, internet of things, analytics and blockchain. “The 10 start-ups that have been picked up are unique because of the technology and business model for which the supporting eco-system in India is evolving slowly. These are futuristic, solve a real problem and are promising ones,” said Lakshmi Misra, head of incubation and community at the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, CIE@IIITH.

At a glance, these are some of the start-ups selected for showcasing, like Onward Assist, which is building automated diagnostic tools based on computer vision that serve as ‘assistants’ to pathologists, providing valuable insights which in turn will be passed on to the oncologists. Another area where it plans on building dashboards is in the risk scoring of patients.

Then, there’s MerkleTree Labs, a blockchain technology start-up that helps develop various blockchain applications to suit different business needs. Some of the services it offers are smart contracts where the digitised contractual terms implement automatically once all terms are met, tokenisation where sensitive information such as personally identifiable information (PII), protected health information (PHI), and credit card numbers are replaced with an incomprehensible set of characters called tokens, creation of private and secure digital identities and more.

MyAlly assists recruiters facing the typical challenges of talent acquisition by leveraging AI and machine learning. It has developed solutions to co-ordinate the end-to-end candidate selection process from interviews to management of candidates through the pipeline and even automating the process of candidate evaluation. Not only does this reduce time and make the entire process faster, it creates transparency, providing dashboards and customisable reports for leadership so they can grab metrics around hiring speed and productivity at a glance.

In 2016, CIE launched India's first deep-technology focused accelerator programme titled Avishkar, which till date, has supported 12 deep-tech start-ups working on computer vision, natural language and speech recognition, AI, robotics and augmented reality and virtual reality. “For any start-up to be part of our accelerator programme, they have to solve pain points of the real world or create something path-breaking for the future. The start-up is assessed on the basis of innovativeness of the idea, market opportunity and technology feasibility,” added Misra. Prior to deep-tech start-ups, CIE promoted start-ups in media-tech, augmented reality, gaming, fashion e-commerce and logistics.

Based on the learning from Avishkar, CIE has spread its wings, beginning this year, with the launch of a MedTech accelerator programme supported by the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC). Already, four start-ups are part of the first cohort. BIRAC is a Public Sector Undertaking of the Government of India, Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India. Going forward CIE will focus more in deep-tech and medtech start-ups, besides focusing on other verticals like blockchain and media and entertainment.

Looking back, the International Institute of Information Technology-Hyderabad (IIIT-H) decided to promote start-ups and that’s how CIE came into existence in 2008. In 2012, the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India (GoI) recognised the incubation facility as a Technology Business incubator in 2012.

Technology for governance is on in a big way.

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