IT & ITES News

Karnataka IT Minister Dr CN Ashwath – The New Indian Express

Express News Service

Beyond Bengaluru clusters — Mysuru, Mangaluru and Hubballi-Belagavi-Dharwad — are expected to contribute over $10 billion towards the state’s IT industry by 2030, and have the potential to generate 10 lakh jobs and establish over 10,000 startups. However, with two major events — ‘Invest Karnataka 2022’ Global Investors Meet (November 2-4) and 25th edition of Bengaluru Tech Summit (16-18 November 2022) — coming up, the city is still struggling with basic infrastructure issues. In an interview with The New Sunday Express, IT & BT Minister Dr CN Ashwath Narayan said infrastructure in every Tier-1 city is under pressure and Bengaluru is no different.

Public sector lender SBI has opened its first exclusive branch for startups in India in Bengaluru under an MoU with the Karnataka Digital Economy Mission (KDEM). What kind of support will the government provide to the entire startup ecosystem?

Today, of the 57,000 startups in India, Karnataka is home to 19,000, and this number will continue to grow. By 2025, India’s digital economy will touch $1 trillion and Karnataka is expected to contribute $300 billion to this target. This can be achieved as we have a balanced IT, ITeS, Sciences and Technology and Biotechnology ecosystem.

Also, Karnataka is the only state that gives seed funding to startups to promote technological innovation. It has also built a network of institutions such as centres of excellences, global captive centres and global innovation centres that apart from providing adequate incubation infrastructure to startups also accelerate their development through industry, financial and marketing mentorship. Bengaluru’s total VC funding (2017-2021) is $21 billion as compared to the global average of $4.5 billion. If you take the share of FDI (foreign direct investment), with 37.55 per cent, Karnataka is the top state that received the highest FDI equity inflow in FY22.

Apart from Bengaluru, the focus is now on Beyond Bengaluru clusters. How are they performing and contributing to both the startup and tech industry?

The state government has signed an MoU with the Israel-based International Semiconductor Consortium (ISMC) for semiconductor fab manufacturing in Mysuru with an estimated investment of Rs 22,900 crore, which is expected to create 1,500 direct and 8,500 indirect jobs.

Moreover, after identifying the strength of each cluster, for instance Mangaluru has a robust banking industry, the state has created sector-specific infrastructure best suited to the region. Therefore, Mangaluru hosts and has expansive scope for fintech, while Mysuru besides being developed as an ESDM (electronics system design and manufacturing) hub, will also become a cybersecurity cluster. Hubballi-Dharwad, on the other hand, is known for its focus on the foundry and the automobile sectors.
Beyond Bengaluru clusters are expected to contribute over $10 billion towards the IT industry by 2030. More than 300 startups have been already onboarded under the Beyond Bengaluru Start-Up Grid.

The Bengaluru Tech Summit (BTS) and Global Investors Meet will be held in November. Will the present macroeconomic headwinds and recession fears impact investments?

There will be little or no impact on the Global Investors Meet. Companies have been showcasing strong performance and markets are strong. I believe both the BTS and the Global Investors Meet will be successful in terms of investments and collaborations. Many companies will invest in the state.
In BTS, we expect to attract over 50,000 visitors, including 350 domain experts, 10,000 delegates, 2,000 startups and 400 exhibitors. This year, the summit will also have a Metaverse experience zone and Lab2Market programme.

What kind of initiatives the government has taken to support the new technologies such as block chain, AI, Web 3.0 and cyber security?

In the last five years, there has been great focus on technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Web 3.0, Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, data analytics and cyber security. The state’s IT Polic 2020-25 framework has stressed on facilitating and supporting disruptive businesses in the startup ecosystem, especially in the areas of new technologies and innovation.

Bengaluru has been attracting investments, but the city’s crumbling infrastructure is a concern. What is the solution ahead?

Infrastructure in every Tier-1 city in the country is under pressure and Bengaluru is no different. The government is making investments to sustain it, but the real solution is to decentralise the investments to other parts of the state.

Also, the government has taken all possible measures — be it public transportation, suburban rail network, Peripheral Ring Road, Satellite Ring Road and so on. The public transportation system too has been scaled up. The entire 13,000 km road network in Bengaluru will be completely developed by December-end. We are trying to do things effectively, and the money has also been earmarked. But due to Covid and monsoon, we are facing challenges in implementation.

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