View from India: Initiatives to fast-track growth of Karnataka’s IT-BT industry

The 25th edition of the Bengaluru Tech Summit (BTS) 2022 concluded last week. Here are some of the key takeaways.

The State of Karnataka, the IT hub of the country, is on a mission to promote faster and more inclusive growth across the IT and biotechnology (BT) sectors through investments and initiatives. Basavaraj S Bommai, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, has announced that six new cities will be set up in Karnataka to ensure that the know-how of technology and its services percolate into various parts of the state. The upcoming cities have been visualised as being well planned with high-tech facilities. Furthermore, newer cities could join the dots in terms of connectivity as well as open out new vistas for employment. This in itself can add to the growth of the IT-BT industry, besides encouraging newer start-ups.

A move in this direction is the announcement of a dedicated Startup Park. This multi-modal park could help promote various spheres of the startup eco-system ranging from agri tech to aeronautical technology. As well as this, a Knowledge and Technology City will be developed. Both projects will be established near the Kempegowda International Airport.

It’s not without reason that Karnataka has become a forerunner in the IT-BT industry. Many initiatives have favoured the growth of the IT-BT sector: some of the milestones include a rather favourable Information Technology Policy 2020-25 as well as the Bengaluru Helix Biotechnology Park. The presence of K-Tech Innovation Hubs and Centres of Excellence (CoE) has opened out channels for innovative thinking. Then there’s the ARTPARK – the AI and Robotics Technology Park – which is the first of its kind in the country. These specialised dedicated spaces could unleash new ideas and encourage individuals to pursue unexplored vistas. IAn interdisciplinary approach, and smart and futuristic solutions, could be some of the expected outcomes from these hubs. Understandably, Karnataka has begun to fast-track its activities. Dr CN Ashwath Narayan, Minister for Electronics, IT, BT and S&T, Higher Education; Skill Development, Entrepreneurship & Livelihood, Government of Karnataka, indicated that the state government has set a target of achieving $300bn digital economy by 2025.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology and Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India (GoI), has announced that GoI has committed an investment of $30bn in electronics and semiconductors. Of this, $20bn will be invested in electronics manufacturing and design, and $10bn in semiconductor manufacturing research and design. Such investments can help morph India into a semiconductor manufacturing hub as well as strengthen its position in the electronics value chain. The increased demand comes from electric vehicles (EVs) and mobility, along with smartphone and high-tech next-gen devices. This could open out opportunities in manufacturing, packaging, verification and design.

Another highlight of BTS 2022 is that startups showcased some of their innovative products and solutions. They are multi-disciplinary, diverse and sector-agnostic ranging from IT/ITeS, agri tech, med tech, healthcare, clean tech, artificial intelligence (AI), edu tech, block chain, Internet of Things (IoT), cyber security, EVs and electronics system design and manufacturing. The products and solutions include electronic-based devices using AI and IoT for healthcare; EV charging; seamless billing solutions; solid waste management and effluent water treatment. The portfolio has also extended to apps to prevent fraudulent transactions, authenticate fabric, real-time augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) experience and deep-tech-based platforms for quality assessment.

Here are some snapshots of a few startups.

Faunatech Solutions works in the agri-tech space. Fauna, its offering, is a smartphone-based handheld diagnostics platform. Monitoring cattle health is crucial for agri produce and Fauna could fit the bill. It is for the early detection of critical diseases as well as screening the quality of milk at the farm level and reducing the usage of antibiotics.

Eye-grabbing designs through one-of-a kind templates is not everyone’s forte, and ads and banners may sometimes be weighed down by these challenges. Sivi.AI has understood this. The startup uses AI to turn ideas and text into visual designs for campaigns, Google display ads, social posts and website content. These are editable designs.

Drona Automations has decided to work in the clean-tech segment. It has set its goal on addressing problems right from sewage to space. It may seem a tall order, but the company has set out on this task by providing customised robots. For instance, its Horizontal Sewer Pipe Cleaning Robot (HSPCR-1) can travel inside pipe sizes ranging from 3in to 5in and clean them. This robot can also be used for descaling and sludge removal and inspection of sewer pipes.

Small businesses have big struggles when it comes to clearing formalities before they can venture out into the market. Bohni Tech Pvt Ltd has stepped into this arena. Though it comes under the IT-ITes sector, it is relatively unexplored. The Boni App is for businesses such as street vendors to register easily; they can add their product and services and begin to receive orders from customers as well as market themselves better to customers.

Perceived Design Pvt Ltd has found its calling in the edu-tech segment. The focus is on real-time experience, which, it is believed, can fill the gap between what the teacher communicates and what a learner perceives. This view has led the company to arrive at proprietary XR Technologies and Design Vision. Its offering, perceiv.io (3D-AR-VR), enables teachers to create XR Content, XR Lessons and XR Assessments in a few clicks.

The state has nurtured many of these startups through support incubators such as K-tech Innovation Hubs, CoEs and Technology Business Incubators (TBIs). Some of them are also recipients of the government’s Idea2 PoC (Proof of Concept) ELEVATE Grant-in-aid seed-funding programme for startups.  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually inaugurated the 25th Bengaluru Technology Summit (BTS 2022). The event was organised by the Department of Electronics, IT, BT, S&T, Government of Karnataka.

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