K-Tech Cradle for Co-Creation & Co-Innovation
Humanoid robots that help school kids learn better. Nano tech that helps treat waste water. An app that makes highway travel fun and safe. Wearables that help improve the health of chronic patients. Paddy analysers, chat applications, augmented reality, portable water filters, a hybrid skateboard and motorcycle, and a logo for the city. The common factor amongst these is that they are innovations spurred by an ecosystem of co-creation and co-innovation provided by 58 institutional partners in Karnataka’s K-tech innovation ecosystem. Internally, linkages are nurtured with incubation centres, technology business incubators and technology-specific centres of excellence. Externally, the ecosystem is linked to all major global innovation hubs through global innovation alliances.
KJ George, Minister for IT, BT & ST, and Large & Medium Scale Industries, Government of Karnataka, says, “Bengaluru is already at the heart of innovative and emerging technologies that have made it India’s IT and Biotech capital. Industries here are developing and using the latest technologies such as nano-tech, robotics, and high-end electronics; this will enable Karnataka to lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution that is driven by Electronics”.
The government has taken up the role of an active catalyst in building a robust ecosystem of academia, experts and entrepreneurs, working to retain its lead as India’s startup capital. “We envision Karnataka as an innovation and technology capital of the world”, adds the Minister.
The first state in India to roll out a multi-sector Startup Policy and an Innovation Policy, Karnataka has also formulated several sector-specific policies to promote startups. Acknowledged as the most pro-active in the country, the Karnataka Department of Information Technology, Biotechnology, and Science and Technology (IT, BT and S&T), offers a host of incentives that amplify Bengaluru’s position as a tech innovator, and encourage entrepreneurs across the state.
The programmes are growing steadily in scale and number, and George points out, “We create and fund several programmes to develop skills and talent to foster innovation in the state. We work with multiple stakeholders in enabling innovation hubs and centres of excellence in industries identified as growth areas such as Electronics, AgriTech, AI/Machine Learning, Biotech, Aerospace & Defence, AVGC and Cyber Security. We envisage K-Tech Innovation Hubs to be the cradle for co-creation and co-innovation for human good.”
Bengaluru Tech Summit
A celebration of success of all contributors of Bengaluru’s ecosystem, the 21st edition of the Bengaluru Tech Summit brings together technocrats, thought leaders, innovators, investors and policy makers across sectors, enabling disruptive interdisciplinary dialogue and collaborations. The theme for the 2018 edition is ‘Innovation & Impact’ and it focuses primarily on Blockchain, AI, ML & Robotics, Intelligent Apps and Analytics, Immersive Experience (AR/VR), IOT, Telecom, Cyber Security, BioPharma, BioAgri, BioEnergy & BioFuels, BioServices, BioInformatics, Investment & Finance, among other sectors.
In the run up to the summit, the Minister led a high ranking team on a road show to Finland, Estonia and France. While the main focus in Finland was startups and biotechnology, in Estonia it was blockchain and cyber security, and in France, it was the incubation ecosystem.
Started in 2017, ELEVATE has served as a instrument for the realisation of dreams of numerous startups by giving grants of up to Rs 50 lakh that helps them in testing their ideas and coming out with products. ELEVATE also provides access to mentors, networking opportunities and incubation facilities to startups across the state. It focuses on sectors such as AVGC, Tourism, Agriculture, Kannada and Culture. This year, the department is giving funds of about Rs 16 crore to 77 startups out of the 246 that pitched at ELEVATE 2018. The selected startups work in varied sectors including IT-ITeS, agritech, ESDM, medical devices, biotech and cleantech. In the past year, funds of Rs 43 crore were given to 176 Startups. Validating the government’s efforts is the fact that most of these startups have not only marked success, but have also secured external investments of about Rs 32 crore.
In 2015, the state introduced the Karnataka Startup Policy (2015-2020) to bolster the robust startup ecosystem of Bengaluru through strategic investment and policy interventions, and to similarly develop other cities in the state. A ‘Fund of Funds’ of Rs 2,000 crore is being invested across multiple sectors, including the growth of 20,000 technology startups, 6,000 product startups, and 25 innovative technology solutions. A dedicated Startup Cell, again the first of its kind in India, assists early stage startups and turns their ideas into proof of concept. The Karnataka Innovation Policy (i4 Policy) fosters innovation across IT, ITES and other knowledge based sectors. It provides a single window clearance mechanism, tax exemptions and other reimbursements, especially for SMEs and startups.
The government’s intent is for tech and tech innovation to spread beyond Bengaluru, and it has set up several centres and incubators in various cities across the state, with mandates that include skill development, mentoring, R&D and commercialisation of technologies with market-ready products.
K-Tech Innovation Hubs
A very interesting project that’s underway is the establishment of K-Tech Innovation Hubs. The department has plans to establish these in several cities to encourage innovation, stimulate entrepreneurship, provide reskilling, create technology based startups, provide employment and fuel economic growth.
It has appointed IKP Knowledge Park, a science park and technology business incubator, to set up five innovation hubs in the state. Up and running is a K-Tech Innovation Hub in Belagavi which provides space and infrastructure, instrumentation, prototyping facilities and business setup support; another K-Tech Innovation Hub also in association with IKP is in Jalahalli, Bengaluru.
In an effort to create the next electronics hotspot beyond Bengaluru and to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in north Karnataka, a K-Tech Innovation Hub in Hubballi has been set up in association with IESA and Deshpande Foundation. This is an Electronic System Design & Manufacturing cluster at the Sandbox Startup. A Very Large Scale Integration Incubation Centre has been established at the KLE Technological University, Hubballi, in association with IESA.
Apart from setting up new hubs, centres established earlier have also been brought under the umbrella of K-Tech Innovation Hubs. These include the New Age Incubation Network (NAIN), and incubators such as the GOK NASSCOM 10000 Startups Warehouse, the GOK Incubator for Tech Startups (GIFTS), the GOK-Mobile 10X Startup Hub and the Bangalore Bioinnovation Centre. The state government has partnered with the central government and private organisations in setting up these incubators focussing on different sectors.
NAIN K-Tech Innovation Hub includes 19 colleges that act as incubation centers to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship the districts of Bagalkot, Belagavi, Vijayapura, Chikkaballapur, Dakshina Kannada, Davangere, Dharwad, Kalaburagi, Hassan, Mandya, Mysuru, Ramanagara, Shivamogga, Tumakuru and Udupi. Mentors from The Indus Entrepreneurs, National Entrepreneur Network, and NASSCOM guide these teams. NAIN has already begun to demonstrate success, and in the three batches that have been selected, a total of 283 projects have been completed with 18 groups forming companies and 2 groups winning patents. Chetana is a programme to technologically empower girls from government schools who top the secondary school examinations, and aims to educate, empower, mentor and support them via workshops and industry interactions, over two years.
Gaurav Gupta, Principal Secretary, Ministry of IT, BT and S&T, Government of Karnataka, points out, “We have ensured that startups get the right infrastructure, at the lowest cost. The state government plans to further strengthen its links with the technology industry, by setting up newer incubation centres and promoting startups.”
The K-Tech Centres of Excellence set up with industry support in different sectors are another mechanism that drives innovation. GoK Nasscom DeITY IoT CoE is the largest deep tech innovation ecosystem in India and provides incubation, funding, acceleration, industry connect and mentoring to IoT startups, helping them build market ready products. The Centre of Excellence in Aerospace and Defence in collaboration with Dassault Systèmes and VTU, Bengaluru, generates specialised engineers; the Centre of Excellence in Machine Learning & Robotics set up in association with IIIT-B carries out high quality research.
The Center of Excellence in AVGC in association with the ABAI is aimed at IP creation and innovation. The Center of Excellence in Cyber Security that is being established in Bengaluru will address skill gaps, build awareness, facilitate innovation and conduct training programmes, and the Semiconductor Fabless Centre of Excellence, to be set up in association with India Electronics and Semiconductor Association, will encourage products such as rural broadband connectivity, microcontrollers for IoT applications, energy meters and electric vehicles.
Placing Karnataka among the top 3 destinations for Data Science & Artificial Intelligence in the world, India’s first Centre of Excellence for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence has been established. This centre is in association with NASSCOM, with whom the government had earlier set up the 10000 Startup Warehouse programme in Bengaluru and funded close to 180 startups.
An Advanced Electronics Test Facility is coming up at Mysuru – Hebbal Industrial Area, under the electronic manufacturing clusters scheme of the Government of India. This ESDM Cluster will enable electronics industries such as medical devices, IT hardware products & sub-assemblies/components, power and energy products, automotive industries and aerospace, to move up the product value chain.
Boosting Agri & Bio Innovations
The Biotechnology Skill Enhancement Programme (BiSEP) has been established to develop talent in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, in collaboration with the Life Science Sector Skill Development Council and CSIR-Indian Institute for Chemical Technology. It enables 18 host institutions in eight districts to focus on collaborations to align skill sets of students to industry requirements.
The most exciting development spans the gamut of life sciences, biotech and agriculture. The state government, through the departments of Agriculture and IT, BT and S&T, is funding 3 new initiatives of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP). The K-Tech Agri-Innovation Centre at C-CAMP will promote deep-science, technology driven entrepreneurship in the agri-sector, the K-Tech Technology Business Incubator will enable C-CAMP to scale up its efforts in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in partnership with the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru, and in the first of its kind by a state government, K-SAP Bio 50 will select 50 high-performing bio startups in the state and handhold them for three years to boost their chances of success and expand their network globally.