(Photo: India Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai)
Karnataka is well-positioned as the start-up hub of India, with more than 40 per cent of the country’s unicorns emerging out of the state.
In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, Dr C N Ashwath Narayan, minister for higher education, IT and BT, science and technology skill development and entrepreneurship, talks about how the state is taking affirmative action to enable the growth of future start-ups.
The minister said the state’s newly released IT policy (2020-25) is poised to push innovation to grow beyond Bengaluru – the Silicon Valley of India.
The minister said the policy will enable a remote, distributed labour force beyond Bengaluru, required for the IT industry, to generate more than six million direct and indirect jobs in the sector over the next five years.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
Can you tell us about your ministry’s participation at Expo? How do you think Karnataka will benefit from the world fair that brings together more than 190 countries?
Being part of the Expo 2020 has provided India, and thereby Karnataka, the opportunity to showcase our ancient culture; cutting-edge technology in areas like space; diversity of states and Union Territories; and also developments in sectors ranging from renewable energy to urban communities, health and wellness to food, agriculture and livelihoods; and spirit of enterprise through the participation of leading business groups.
Expo 2020 has been a platform for not only showcasing Karnataka as a leading destination for industries to expand operations, but it has also given us an opportunity to present the mammoth innovation and start-up ecosystem of our state, thereby increasing visibility and opening doors for collaborations.
Government of Karnataka is keen to continue on the path to strengthen relationships with global innovation hubs like UAE on common grounds of technology and entrepreneurship, and platforms like Expo 2020 Dubai will bring us closer to reach the goal.
What are the strengths and weakness of Karnataka’s education system, according to you?
Karnataka has all the ingredients of a quality education system. It is a pioneer in technical education leading the way for the entire country in IT. It has quality higher education colleges, medical/dental colleges and a research ecosystem with many global companies having their research centres in Bengaluru.
The need is to integrate the disciplines, research and industry needs. The implementation of NEP (New Education Policy) will bridge this gap.
How do you think the NEP will positively impact Indian education system and what are the outcomes expected in your state?
The NEP will bring in revolutionary changes in the education system by focusing on the two most important aspects of the education ecosystem — teachers and students.
It aims to bring in a multi-disciplinary education system, which will unlock the creative potential of every individual by imbibing conceptual understanding and critical thinking.
It will mould the student into a well-rounded personality by giving him knowledge, skills and values. It will empower the students to be second to none at the global stage.
Many colleges in Karnataka are not yet ready to implement the NEP. What are the steps you are taking to ensure the new education policy takes effect?
All necessary steps have been taken to create awareness on various beneficial aspects of NEP. All colleges have come forward to implement NEP in letter and spirit.
Can you tell us the steps your government is taking for skill development of youngsters who are looking to migrate?
Technical education (ITI/diploma/engineering) has been revamped to enable our students to compete at the global level.
Curriculum has been redesigned to match global standards. Curriculum at all levels is being aligned to NSQF to integrate skill training with formal education.
What are the developments/training programmes you are implementing in the IT sector considering Karnataka is a technological hub of India?
Every player in the ecosystem has an essential role to play – the government’s role is that of an enabler and facilitator. We provide platforms for the growth of technology and innovation by partnering with other key stakeholders of the ecosystem.
a. Government of Karnataka has ensured that inputs from the industry partners and academic institutions are included in all decisions taken for the growth of the ecosystem.
Vision groups in areas of information technology, biotechnology, science and technology and start-up have been set up to bridge the gap between industry and government and to jointly identify a way forward for ensuring the growth of the innovation ecosystem of the state.
b. We are making the world aware of the potential that exists in other emerging cities. As is evident from the newly released IT policy (2020-25), we are taking steps for innovation to grow beyond Bengaluru.
The policy will enable a remote, distributed labour force beyond Bengaluru, required for the IT industry, and generate over six million direct and indirect jobs in the sector in the next five years. The policy also looks at market development for IT/ITeS companies by easing public procurement norms and hosting events specifically beyond Bengaluru.
We are facilitating the growth of technologies of the future by partnering with the experts – IT Department has set up 8 Centres of Excellence (CoE) in partnership with anchor institutions to encourage development of innovation.
These CoEs have been set up for technologies like data science and AI, machine learning and robotics, cybersecurity, internet of things, agri-innovation, AVGC, SFAL and aerospace and defence.
We have created a platform for knowledge transfer and building international relations through the Global Innovation Alliance programme. We have created partnerships with more than 20 countries leading in technology and innovation, and we have maintained a continuous channel of engagement with these countries. This has opened lot of opportunities of mutual understanding and knowledge sharing of the technologies and innovations of the future.
Can you elaborate on your government’s policies to create one million jobs in the IT sector?
Karnataka’s growth and development over the years may be attributed to ecosystem partners, including MNCs/GCCs, our robust start-up ecosystem with support from incubators and accelerators. Our state is home to premier higher education institutions such as Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Indian Institute of Management (IIM), International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) and several others.
We have been a pioneer in announcing sector specific policies for information technology, biotechnology, electronics system design & manufacturing (ESDM) and animation, visual effects, gaming and comics (AVGC) in order to give push to growth of the technology sectors and innovation in the state.
There has also been tremendous focus by the government of Karnataka in providing attractive incentives to the industries. The end result of most of these policies is increasing opportunities for employment – be it through large industries or even encouraging growth of start-ups.
The Karnataka Information Technology Policy 2020-25 has incentives for large and medium industries to set up operations in Karnataka such as financial support of up to 33 per cent for co-working spaces, lease/rental reimbursement, stamp duty exemption and concessional power tariff among others. There are also special incentives for industries looking to expand operations in emerging cities of Karnataka beyond Bengaluru.
The Special Incentive Scheme for Electronic System Design & Manufacturing (ESDM) Sector 2020 has incentives for ESDM companies such as production linked incentives of 1 per cent of annual turnover for a period of five years, capital investment subsidy, power tariff reimbursement among others
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Karnataka Engineering Research & Development (ER&D) Policy 2020 aims at attracting engineering R&D centres to establish or expand operations in Karnataka by providing rental reimbursements, recruitment assistance and investment subsidy among other incentives
We are also coming out with a new start-ups policy, which will include incentives for emerging as well as growth stage start-up that will aim to increase employment by creating more opportunities for growth
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(Photo: India Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai)