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, a logo for the city, an artificial cornea, stem cell culture combined with 3D bioprinted skin cells, a smart cradle, a device to monitor sewage water, and last mile connectivity to solve traffic problem through e-mobility.
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.
Disruptive technologies offer huge opportunities to better the lives of people. We want to build on Bengaluru’s strength as India’s IT & Biotech capital, to make it also lead in Electronics.”
– KJ George, Minister for IT, BT & ST, and Large & Medium Scale Industries, Government of Karnataka
Bengaluru is already at the heart of innovative and emerging technologies that have made it India’s IT and Biotech capital. Industries here are working on developing and using the latest technologies such as nano-tech, robotics, and high-end electronics which will enable Karnataka to take the lead in electronics.
The state government envisions Karnataka as an innovation and technology capital of the world, and 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. 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 proactive 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 encourages entrepreneurs across the state.
The programmes are growing steadily in scale and number, and the government creates and funds several programmes to develop skills and talent to foster innovation in the state. It works 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. It envisages K-tech Innovation Hubs to be the “cradle for co-creation and co-innovation for human good.”
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. The policy envisages support to 20,000 technology startups, 6,000 product startups, and 25 innovative technology solutions. ELEVATE- a seed funding program called Idea2poc, 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 concessional tariff for power, stamp duty exemption and other reimbursements, especially for companies in Tier-II cities.
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 LABS
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, Mangaluru and Mysuru.
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, COE in IOT and the Bangalore Bioinnovation Centre. The state government has partnered with the central government and private organisations in setting up these incubators that focus on different sectors.
NAIN K-tech Innovation Hub includes 33 colleges that act as incubation centres to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in the districts of Bagalkot, Belagavi, Vijayapura, Chikkaballapur, Dakshina Kannada, Davanagere, Dharwad, Kalaburagi, Hassan, Mandya, Mysuru, Ramanagara, Shivamogga, Tumakuru and Udupi. Mentors from The Indus Entrepreneurs, NASSCOM, IKP, Deshpande Foundation and other ecosystem partners would 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.
Bengaluru has 7,504 startups with an average valuation of $3.4 million and attracts more than 6,000 investors.
The Department of IT, BT, Science & Technology of Karnataka supports tech incubators and here, Minister KJ George & Principal Secretary Gaurav Gupta get a close look at the 3D Bioprinting at the Next Big Innovation Labs, incubated at the Bangalore Bioinnovation Centre.
Karnataka was the first state to have a startup policy in the country. Bengaluru has been an IT capital, an electronic city and a silicon city, and it is now the startup capital of India, with over 6000 startups located here. This shows that a good ecosystem has been developed, and it was adjudged the 4th largest startup ecosystem in the world. Our policy encourages investment in startups and the numbers are really encouraging. Nearly USD 32 billion investment has come into Bengaluru and Karnataka.
– Deputy Chief Minister Dr. G Parameshwara, who holds the portfolio of IT, BT, Science & Technology, among others
The K-tech Centres of Excellence set up with industry support in different sectors are another mechanism that drives innovation. GoK Nasscom MeITY 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 Centre of Excellence in AVGC in association with the ABAI is aimed at IP creation and innovation. The Centre 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-II and Tier-III 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 three 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.
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.”